Last weekend, on Saturday (which was also Day 4 of our virulent stomach flu, and the day my nerves had been whittled to wee shreds by days of getting puked on, feeling puke-ish, not leaving the house, and generally having my sanity tested), we got new neighbors. They started moving in at midnight on Friday night and kept moving things up the stairs and around the apartment until 2:30am. Sometime in there, I was puked on. I didn't sleep much that night, and then again Saturday night, when they again chose the hours between midnight and 3am as prime moving time. Who were these people moving in at this odd hour?, we wondered. And then we met them. On Sunday morning. On the porch. And it all became clear.
They were Dudes. Dudes in their twenties. Dudes with earrings. Dudes who move into their new pad between midnight and 3am. We met two of the three total Dudes, all of whom are still in or recently graduated from college or grad school. One "has a job, but we're not sure what it is." And, they informed us, we are going to get a fourth Dude, once they "get some wood and tools and stuff and, like, build a wall and make another room." Seriously? As we strolled away with our baby who goes to sleep at 7pm, we turned to each other and said, "Wow. It really couldn't be much worse, could it?" I mean, as neighbors go, I can't think of who I want to leave beneath less than three to four Dudes.
I joke, but I am pretty much devastated right now. I am someone who goes to a lot of trouble to curate and consciously create my personal space. Sometimes to my detriment, the aesthetics of my home really, really matter to me. I've harangued the husband into installing dimmer switches in every room to achieve the mellow lighting effect I prefer in the evenings. I cook and bake things that create inviting smells to waft through our home. I buy candles and create fruit and veggie and flower arrangements, and frame photos I love to make this space ours. I keep it as clean as is quasi-sane to maintain with a toddler and a dog. I love to have good music playing and I love silence. I am very purposeful about what I bring to my space. So, to suddenly have these Dudes appear and have an immediate impact on my living space, one which I have no control over, irks me to my very core.
I am aware that the most telling word in the sentence above is "control." That I can't control this Dude situation is what bothers me the most. I can't control when and how loudly they play their music, I can't control when they choose to hammer things or vacuum or dance or have a parade of small elephants in their hallway (which is what I am pretty sure was happening last night). I can politely inform them of our schedule and what we'd appreciate from them in terms of consideration and quiet, and I did so last night as sweetly and humorously as I could when I was home alone and they were hammering and nailing with a vengeance just after I put the baby down. They were not pleased with my entreaty, and this interaction left me with shaking hands, a pit in my stomach, and an immediate need for a very large glass of Cabernet. We can call the cops, I suppose, if things get really bad, although in a neighborhood where shootings and property theft happen with some regularity, I am not sure that the Dudes are really going to be at the top of their list. Inevitably, what we're going to have to do is learn to live with this thing that is very much out of our control.
The husband can do that, no problem; he's hands down one of the most tolerant and flexible people I've ever known. Me, well, I'm admitting it to all of you now: living with things that aren't in my control just isn't my best thing. This, of course, flies in the face of all common sense about parenting. Once you get pregnant, even, life starts being completely out of your control, and the sooner you get hip to that notion and learn to be happy with it, the better your life is going to be. Most of the anxieties and ruts I've faced in the past year or two can really be traced back to me feeling the need to control a situation that I can't, whether it be our housing or employment or childcare. There is so much that has happened that has left me feeling not at the wheel of my own life, and it really takes it out of me.
I know I need to make a change for my health and the health of my family, and I've been working on it. Still, I can't help but feel like the Dudes are some sort of parable for me right now. I wanted to live in this eclectic urban place. I grew up in the suburbs and always felt fenced in there and like I wanted to make my life in a more colorful space. So here I am in a city neighborhood surrounded by people of every stripe: the great lesbian couple next door, the Puerto Rican party house out the back door, the artists who make installments in their front yards, and the Dudes. I'm worlds away from the quiet rows of tidy Tudor homes that made me feel suffocated as a wild teen. I'm living the bohemian life that I had always imagined might appeal to me. And with this comes a visceral need to let go of the quest for control.
You can't have it both ways, the saying goes. If I want my life to be an adventure, it is going to come with elements I can't control. I need to let go, but I don't know how. Do you? Dear readers, have you figured this puzzle out? I came across a quote awhile back that really resonated with me, and I tagged it on to the bottom of a post in December, but want to put it out again now: