(Please note: this is not my neighbor. This is a stock image of someone else’s annoying/endearing neighbor.)
My neighborhood is loud. My neighborhood is so loud that in the month leading up to the 4th of July you could easily see 20 commercial firework displays within a mile radius. And I don’t live in a park. People here just love the hell out of America. Or fire. Does it really matter?
Tonight when I sat down to get some paint moving, I heard my neighbors next door. I live in a freestanding house, but my neighbors are literally spitting distance. They are lovely people, originally from Guatemala and I have been forcing them to practice Spanish with me since we first moved in. I told them then, “Quiero mejorar mi espanol. Podemos practicar?” And, god love them, they have practiced with me whenever we are both outside at the same time for the last ten years. Once when I had a friend visiting who didn’t speak Spanish my neighbor easily slipped into excellent English and I was both embarrassed and grateful that she had been willing to Spanish it up with me for so long.
So, back to tonight’s project. The rough materials? Two cardboard shoe inserts, some jewelry separators and my old standby – acrylic paint. But as I started gathering all my business, I heard singing from next door. Now I never hear much from next door except some unfortunate sinus clearing once a day.
That’s not completely true. For a few years there was an epic New Year’s Party which involved all of the furniture being hauled outside to make room for dancing, but we’ve all gotten a bit older and the lights have burned out so the last few years have been quiet. But tonight, tonight is different. Because we are so close it sounds like the singing could be in the back bedroom (if we were so lucky as to have a back bedroom.) Normally, that would bug the hell out of me. It would start the diatribe about how I am faking it living in the city. Actually, I should be in some small college town where everyone looks and acts the same. That would mushroom into how insensitive people are that they don’t consider the consequences of their actions. If I got to chew on it a little bit more, I could turn it into the failure of both parents and the educational system. But that didn’t happen tonight. I didn’t even have to talk myself out of the rant. Because the first thing I thought when I heard the singing was, “That is so sweet.”
It’s not one person singing over there. It isn’t a bunch of children. They aren’t singing karaoke or singing to a record. Someone is playing a guitar. They’re intermittently clapping and they all sound happy. No one who lives there is in a band. This isn’t something to get ready for a hot open mic Wednesday night at a coffeehouse. It is just a bunch of regular people singing, just to sing.
During this artistic thaw I’ve been going through I didn’t realize how angry I have been at people making and creating things. Annoyed by bad guitar playing. Horrified by hackey stand up comics. Completely dismissive of anyone’s writing. If nothing else comes of this blogging experiment, I hope it will serve to humanize me a little bit more with all the other peeps out there just trying to do something for the fun of it. Because when I heard that whole crew of my vecinos belting out those tunes it made my insides light up like my neighborhood on June 27th… or thereabouts.