I am thankful this morning to be surrounded by friends, near cottonwood trees filled with tanager, goldfinch, and warbler. Mostly, I am thankful for the glorious, restful nights of sleep I have experienced since leaving Massachusetts.
I haven’t written for over a month, the longest stretch that I can recall since the inception of “ranger m goes to Alaska” nearly two years ago. There are reasons for this lapse in writing—the business of life, starting a new job, working to finish required assignments so that I can move on to become a doctoral candidate.
To be completely honest, the main reason that I have not written in several weeks has been the deterioration of my emotional and physical wellbeing. In March and April posts, I made mention of the inhospitable conditions at my residence in apartment 4A at 586 Merrimack Street. These were gentle, comedic references to city life and the sounds from the tenants in the apartment above me, who seemed wholly unaware and unconcerned about the impact of their loud way of being on their neighbor in the apartment below.
Since that time, I have literally been kept awake for hours each night or woken up every one to two hours. It got to the point where I actually thought I might lose my mind altogether. I have heard about how difficult it is for first-time parents with a restless infant. At least, there is a beautiful baby to love despite sleep deprivation.
For me, there has been no love. Only hours of dog barking day and night when my neighbors are not at home and crashing sounds, loud voices, music and television blasting at all hours of the night and early morning. If it is quiet and I dare to go to sleep early, I am woken up not long after. If I stay up and wait until I pass out from exhaustion, I am still woken up at 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am, etc.
Ear plugs and running my fan for hours has accomplished little in the way of muffling the sounds from above, and my initial efforts—replete with a thank you card and chocolates—to kindly request they tone down their noise had only fleeting success.
Not wanting to cause too much trouble, I hesitantly contacted my landlord, who had already been described to me by colleagues at work as the “slum lord of Lowell”. To my surprise and relief, he responded that he would take immediate action. Well, his idea of immediate action had little effect on the noise level, which continued and escalated to the point where I finally began to take refuge a few nights a week at my parents house when I began to experience complete emotional collapse.
Out of my mind after weeks of trying to communicate with my landlord, who offered another apartment available June 1st but never found the time to actually show it to me, I gave up and gave my 30 days’ notice to move. This seemed reasonable, especially given the extreme circumstances.
I had initially contemplated the idea of trying to survive until my lease would terminate at the end of August. I mean, really, how difficult could it be to put up with sleepless nights and noise for a few more months? Each evening when I would return home to noise levels that would drive the most patient of people to the brink, I gave up. It was simply too much.
I have jokingly talked about the Northeast region of the United States as one where people are quick to take legal action for the smallest of incidents. Truly, most of the people I have met on my return journey to Massachusetts have offered a warm welcome, support, and kindness.
I suppose that I should be thankful to my landlord for offering the fullness of the Massachusetts cultural experience by first verbally consenting to allow me to break my lease due to the circumstances and then quickly retracting, with mention of taking legal action. This mention was brief and has not yet been repeated. While I clearly hope that it does not come to this, I imagine that my visit to Massachusetts would not be as complete or authentic without the threat of legal action.
I look forward to terminating my tenure at 586 Merrimack Street and finding emotional and physical harmony once more in a good night’s rest. At the end of entropy, balance will hopefully be restored for at least a little while.