I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Getting along in a crowded world

And why might this be on my mind this beautiful sunny Sunday morning? Because of the sleep I didn't get because of my noisy neighbors. I don't have air conditioning (hardly anybody in the Pacific Northwest does because you only need it for a short time every year), so I sleep with the windows open and a fan to move the air through the apartment. Although I have other tenants next to me and under me, at the present time we have been blessed with very considerate neighbors.

But across the large expanse of back yard, there are private homes. And last night after 11:00pm, I was awakened by voices coming from somewhere outside. At first, I thought it was someone arriving after being out on a Saturday night, but when I looked outside I could see through the trees that the neighbors two houses down had started a bonfire and were apparently going to be there for some time. I was right: by midnight the guitar music got louder and the voices morphed into raucous shouts as people became more and more inebriated as they sang. There couldn't have been more than five or six people, but the noise was impossible to ignore. I closed the windows and got some relief.

Every few hours I would wake and realize that it was warm in the bedroom and would tentatively open the window again. Still going strong at 2:00am when I finally gave up. It wasn't until around 4:00am that I opened the window to blissful silence. These are the same people who just a week ago woke us by mowing their lawn before 7:00am on a Saturday. They must work a regular schedule and try to cram everything into the weekend, with little consideration that other people might be sleeping.

We have been here in this same apartment for three full summers, and this is the first time I've experienced this from these neighbors, so I am hopeful this will not be a regular Saturday night event. After all, the world is truly becoming more and more crowded every single day, and we all need to be more considerate of our surrounding neighbors. There's little to be done about a party in a private back yard around a bonfire, but I couldn't help but think of all the other people who would be bothered by that noise as well.

We live in a rented apartment and could move away if necessary, but what about the people who own their own homes and live right next door? One of my blogging friends lives in Vancouver, B.C. and owns a condo, and she deals with a fraternity that moved in right next door. She complains but cannot do anything much about the constant noise on the weekends. So I count my blessings and hopefully tomorrow night I'll be able to make up my sleep deficit as the revelers return to work. What gets me, though, is that in a world with so many people, this problem will only become worse as time goes on. There will be no safe quiet places left except in the wilderness. We humans are populating the planet to the detriment of most other species.

When I was a young girl, I remember reading about the population explosion and how many people would be living in the world by the turn of the century. Well, that was fifteen years ago now, and the exponential growth of the world population really boggles my mind. In 1960, the world population was 3 billion people, and as of 2012, it reached 7 billion. Seven billion people! No wonder we have such problems getting along in our own little corner of the world. I forget sometimes that there are fewer and fewer places to get away from it all, since I'm blessed with the ability to drive to vast expanses of wilderness every week. My town of Bellingham has somewhere around 75,000 people at the present time, but like everywhere else, it's expected to continue to grow in size. Well, all those people have to live somewhere, I tell myself.

This is a very beautiful part of the country, and we are incredibly fortunate to have not only plenty of fresh water to drink but also varied abundant food choices. There are places in this country that don't even have that, and in crowded countries like India and China, the problem is much, much worse. Economic inequities exacerbate the problem, and even though I live on a fixed income, I have the wherewithal to enjoy whatever restaurant I choose, to buy pricey items now and then, and basically keep my head above water. It makes me feel very fortunate indeed.

My sister and I often think of our mother, who would mention the problems that we would be facing, and that we would be around to see the worst of them, but she wouldn't. And now here I am, older than my mother ever got a chance to be, and realizing that there are blessings to be had in old age, and one of those blessings is that I won't be around to see the world when it reaches 10 billion people (2050). That is about five times more people than there were in the entire world when I was born. No wonder things have changed so much.

Gosh, I didn't mean to get started on this depressing subject. It was those noisy neighbors who got me to thinking about the crowded world we share. I could have written about the beautiful place we hikers visited on Thursday, with waterfalls and bubbling streams, abundant flowers and sunshine. But no, I was still feeling grumpy this morning when I woke from unsettled dreams and interrupted sleep. Today there are only a few things I need to do, one is watering my garden and weeding it a little, before it gets out of hand. And my friend Judy and I will be going to the movies to see Iris, a documentary about a 93-year-old style maven. We'll probably have dinner together afterwards, and I'll come home to my comfortable apartment and catch up on my sleep.

I do hope that you have a wonderful week, filled with love, laughter, and plenty of rest. My window is open and I hear nothing but the occasional bird chirping away on a lovely, sunny morning. My tea is gone (I just took the last sip) and I'm ready to begin my day. Be well until we meet again next week, please.


Gigi said...

Good grief, that IS inconsiderate. Don't you have noise pollution laws there? Here, I believe, after a certain time, you can call the police to complain. Of course, that doesn't always fix the problem.

Have a great time with your friend and here's to a good, uninterrupted night's sleep!

Linda Reeder said...

For several years we had a large Samoan family living nearby. They liked to live outside, weather permitting. Just downhill from us, their conversation and laughing and music carried right up into our open bedroom window until late in the night. I know what you experienced.
They eventually overpopulated themselves, inviting more and more family members to move in until they brought themselves all down and lost the house. It still sits empty, owned by some bank somewhere.
I don't miss their noise, but at least it was happy noise. I don't know where or how they are managing now.
We are going into the city for another soccer match today. I am looking forward to some much needed rain this week. I hope it happens.

Marty said...

This post echoed my Friday night.
We live on a dead-end street, surrounded by woods. Unless the neighbors down beyond the woods decide to get loud - this only happens about once or twice in a year - all we usually hear is birdsong, chipmunk chucking, owl hooting, and the occasional scream of a fisher cat.
We've just returned from a quick trip down to see our daughter and her family in New Jersey. We stay in a hotel when visiting her - this works out better than my 6'3" husband and me on her futon.
The hotel was practically empty except for the group that was also staying on our floor. At two a.m. they returned from wherever so they could yell to each other in the hall and bang their doors upteen times for a half hour or so.
I'm always surprised by the inconsiderate behavior of other people in hotel hallways.
Still, have a lovely week. :-)

Teresa Evangeline said...

I've always liked the rules at campgrounds: quiet time between 10:00 and 7:00. Overall, everyone honored this and the nights were quiet. It seems there will always be those who live an egocentric life without thought of those around them ... I hope this was a one time event for your neighborhood.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Well Inagree the world is more crowded but my childhood as refugee in NE Germany brought us in very close proximity with all sorts of people having to share space. There were many ruined buildings all around. And I can imagine the thousands now living in refugee camps stuck for political reasons. But I know humans are survivors and learn to adapt. Noise drives us folks a bit crazt now because we have come to enjoy peaceful times and opted to live in a quiet lifestyle. We are accustomed to that. But think back to earlier times in your life. Parties, crying infant or sick child or sibbling? We just managed.
As for crowded spaces in the future, looking at housing in Europe Japan and Hong Kong I would say the people are deaf to noise and just live with it.and they have done so for a long time.
But I do appreciate that you were disturbed and understand how it can annoy and hope it is not of a repetitive nature for you.

Tabor said...

I do think people have a right to be a little noisy in their back yard with friends, but after midnight it is time to be quiet and talk lowly! We even get concert noise out here in the woods, only 4 times a years, but enough to find the booming base sound most annoying.

Rian said...

I too understand being annoyed by late night noise. Our next door neighbors are really nice people, but do have friends over for parties once in a while and of course they use their backyard pool area - which is adjacent to our bedroom window. It can get noisy on occasion as DH and I are usually in bed by 10. But we adjust. He can probably snore through anything and I pack up and move to the den to either watch TV or doze on the sofa until things quiet down.
And yes, you do live in a beautiful part of the country, so count your blessings, and close your windows on those few annoying occasions...
And have a wonderful Sunday! (no rain here today - yea!)

Far Side of Fifty said...

The worst sounds we have are a speedboat zooming up and down the lake...probably water skiing on Saturdays and Sundays during the day and Fireworks down at the lake. I wish the boats no ill will but sometimes I pray they run out of gas. Fireworks are Illegal in Minnesota so that really gets my goat. BUT those are all far off sounds...my brother and my nephew are both quiet, they are our closest neighbors. Years ago when we lived in town I worked nights so those Lawn Mowers in the early morning really irritated me, and it seemed as soon as one neighbor was done another would start. Perhaps some earplugs would help:)

Anonymous said...

Can't you call the police? There is a law against disturbing the peace. I have called the cops twice so far, because the woman next door was screaming and yelling.

Regarding the population explosion, I think wars, famine, and natural disasters will kill off a lot of people. So, I am not worried.

Glenda Beall said...

Your post gives me one more reason I don't want to live in a city. I love my rural life, my quiet neighbors and the ability to open my windows and hear only the night creatures when I am trying to sleep.
Once we had a family with three small boys living across from us and they drove my husband nuts. The boys had a go cart and when they got home from school they spent hours driving round and round their house, the sound was awful. Around four o'clock was my husband's quiet time on the deck - the same time the boys chose to ride.

Now we have three quiet ladies living there and if they plan to have a party, they invite us. I love the quiet of the woods around my house and the sounds of birds singing.

Elephant's Child said...

I finished my first cup of tea with this post, nodding my head in agreement all through it.
Sigh. I am sure that if you, or any of their other neighbours, had a similar party on a weeknight, the noise makers would be the first to complain.
The inequality and the noise in the world bother me. A lot. How I wish more of us could look at the world as a community, and step away from the us and them mentality.
Another thought provoking post. Thank you - and a wonderful, love, laughter, quiet and nature filled week to you.

Arkansas Patti said...

I knew there was a reason to love my air conditioner besides creature comforts. It provides a great white noise plus with closed windows, all is quiet. I agree that they should have toned it way down as the night wore on but probably by then the alcoholic cloak of invisibility was surrounding them. Might not hurt to check you local noise ordinances to see if you have recourse. Hope you got caught up.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, A very good Sunday afternoon to you. I really don’t know how you do it, but every week you seem to be able to publish a post that I find a pleasure to read and something to look forward to. Almost always I find myself saying yep… yep …yep as I read through and agree with what you are saying. You are so right-on about the noise issue. There are all kinds of noise disturbances and I’ve found that most often the offenders appear oblivious to how they are disturbing others around them. I’m wondering, being a “far-side-of-fifty” person, if this is all a part of the new culture where some younger people have simply not been taught basic manners and civility. I certainly don’t want to point a finger at all younger people … that isn’t the case, but more often, and probably because I’ve been lucky enough to survive this long, it is the younger ones that seem to be causing the noise. A little common courtesy can go a long way. I surely hope the issue with your neighbors will not be a summer-long event. Take good care and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Red said...

I don't think we'll ever make 10 billion. We are destroying our planet with global warming. I see many changes that will destroy people or prevent growth in population. There's going to be a lot of competition for available resources and space. we'll fight over it. We won't take care of out fellow man.

Rita said...

Living in an apartment can be very noisy at times. Parties, cars with booming music, kids screaming & fighting, adults screaming & fighting, lawn maintenance crews, vacuum cleaners, blenders, movies playing like they're at the theater, apartment doors slamming, car doors slamming, people calling to each other across the parking lot or down the hallways, and even the garbage truck comes before dawn sometimes. Construction is going on everywhere and they start very early in the morning, too. I think that's why I like to sleep with a fan going in open window weather and I always turn on my white noise machine before I go to bed all year round. Fights and parties are the worst for interrupting sleep during the night. I am expecting the senior building to be a lot quieter. I hope. ;)

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Been there, listened to that guitar music at three a.m. You have my sympathy! A night of disrupted sleep is the pits.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Since it only has occurred this once I have to wonder if perhaps it wasn't a grand celebration. Maybe the end of chemo or a child finally graduating from college after 10 years. Or a wake? Who knows, so glad it doesn't occur often. With the quiet you experience on your lovely hikes in the mountains, I'm sure your ear is tuned to much more beautiful sounds.

I wish I could keep my windows open as you do. We only get a short window in the spring before we have to turn the AC back on and close up the house until maybe November (if it doesn't get too cold too quickly.)

You bring up some great points in regard to population, but I like best about you said is that with all the people that have joined the world, no wonder things are changing. I will relay to my brother who just wants things to stay as they were, sometime ago. Enjoyed this.

Daniel Roberson said...

Incidents like that truly happen, and I know that many people can relate with your experience. I guess one solution for it is for the law makers in your place to implement a certain time limit about until what time you can play music whenever you're holding a party at home, just so that sleeping neighbors will not be disturbed. Well, I hope that it doesn't frequently happen, and that you're getting a decent sleep now. Have a great day, Djan! :)

Daniel Roberson @ Mark Bentley PA