Apartment People - Or People Meant to Be Apart.

Apartment people sitcoms never promised or even hinted at the increasing levels of human intimacy that would enter my life upon moving into my funky new apartment. 

Bunches of Friends dining and socialising are not what I refer to here. 

It seemed like a little slice of modern heaven with a dishwasher, until upstairs moved in.

Ideas of urban heaven came crashing in like bombs from the sky. No, I hadn’t moved to a war zone, I refer now to the morning dump of my upstairs neighbours.   

Seriously? No more privacy, even in the loo? There was no episode of Friends to prepare me for this. I was prepared for passing strangers in the hallway, for sharing driveways and footpaths, even midnight parties and loud music, but the pipes behind my bedroom wall resound the rumblings of upstairs plumbing with a rush of just too much information.

Perhaps I shouldn’t’ write about such things as toilet noises, but if it’s socially acceptable to build homes projecting the echoes of ones private and personal habits, then I shall write.  Otherwise the social veil, through which we pretend we cannot hear, may be at risk of becoming thinner and thinner, leaving us no space in which to be alone, even in the smallest room.

It would initially appear, as far as auditory privacy goes, the ground floor might be the place to be, if not for the clogs—OMFG!

'Clogs' are the name I give to any kind of shoe or slipper when worn on a floating timber floor, suspended over my (particularly waking) head.

The communal door situation is worse. Is the entire building industry afflicted by hearing loss?

My facebook friends insisted I do something about it. Post-it-notes on communal doors might be my friend, but will probably not help me make any: 'Please turn handle and close door quietly.' After I place the signs, I'm mentally trapped in my apartment in social anxiety, until I sneak out and remove them. I imagine my neighbours might call me 'door bitch.' I turn up the ‘doof doof,' turn on the exhaust fans, buy a set of industrial ear-muffs and lots of ear plugs.

I have questioned builders on why apartments aren’t better soundproofed. The answer, of course, is cost. I wonder if we can afford the extra tensions created by noise pollution. In an overstimulating world, many of us desperately need a place of peace and tranquility to calm down each day.

High-density living is becoming more prevalent in Australia, yet people still need the idea of a quiet cave to escape a hectic world. I challenge designers and inventors to come up with economical sound solutions that builders actually want to use. I hope to see apartments that are actually true to their name, giving people living close together, the illusion of being apart.    

The extra noise does not take away all of the advantages of living simply.  Here, I am a recovering Tree Changer. I need to remember that everyone here is still more quiet than the pack of white country cockatoos I left breakfasting on a fruit tree, next to my old bedroom window.   

In a noisy world, a quiet place to be is golden.

Leanne Margaret © 2014

EDITED 2024: I moved to a better apartment in 2022. It's a big concrete building that absorbs most of the sounds my neighbours make. The traffic is far below me. I needed to elevate myself to a higher floor. Life is amazingly peaceful, and I'm quite a different person – the person I used to be before I experienced eight years of noise torture. Noise torture is how I now describe those years in my former apartment.


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