I had occasion to be in another Texas city yesterday. I drove around, looking at houses for sale and for rent. I found a gorgeous early 20th century neighborhood with a stately array of variations on the grande dame manse. I also found a little 1900-ish brick house which was begging for my touch. Unfortunately, the two neighborhing houses were begging for my torch, they being of the apocalyptic white trash variety, so perhaps it's best the little charmer was not on the market. That's not unhealthy, is it, that I wish the neighboring houses would just vaporize?
I sold a house in an historic district once because of the unsavouries who'd rented next door. The owner lived in the big house at the end of the block, and was in the process of snapping up every bit of property in the district she could acquire. She thought it was a good idea to rent the house next door to me to a group of 21 year old men. The porch rail was strewn with gem-like glass bottles - classy! - emerald greens, clears and browns, mostly, labels such as Jack Daniel's weathering to a suede-like white in the harsh Texas sun, wresting free from the bonds of anchoring glue and flapping gently in the wind. These young men would get home from what must have been fine establishments in the neighborhood of 2:30am, and then the party would start.
Have you ever seen how a tuning fork works? One strikes the end of the tines against a hard surface then holds the bulb at the base against a wood surface such as a piano lid, and the wood acts as a sound board and the volume is amplified dramatically. Well, these old houses are much like the case of a piano, the wood acting as an accellerator to the sound, my all-wood house fairly thrumming with the vibrations of their bass. Oh, but they loved their music!
This was irritating to the degree that the prim and proper schoolteacher across the street was driven to cursing. One day, she said to me "I'm just so sick of their-- their-- *sputter* their shit."
Madam! Such language!
One weekend, after something like 12 continuously throbbing hours of party central, I went across the street to the enraged neighbor and asked her if she would join me in complaining to the police-- they said the complaint of one person would have no teeth in having the occupants or owners cited for disturbing the peace. Schoolteacher said "well, I would complain if it bothered me." Spineless.
I walked back into my house andphoned the realtor in town and said "please bring a sign for my yard. Now."
So, anyhoo, now I have this really noisy neighbor again. I hear the tires on the pavement at all hours. I never realized that was the real noise of a roadway-- would always have sworn it was the engines of the vehicles. Occasionally there is a jake-brake (what jerky driver goes fast enough through busy downtown expressways to NEED a jake-brake?) and then the whole din is occasionally punctuated by the ululations of emergency vehicles. What brought the tires thing home to me was last week when the world was enshrouded in ice and things were so starkly quiet. The handful of motorists on the expressway picked their way gingerly along, and I slept SO well...
The traffic begins picking up more heavily at about 5am. It's like a ceaselessly churning artery, pumping vital fluids through the city. I know it's a necessary evil, and there are many legitimate reasons for people to be out driving in wee small hours, but the expressway certainly makes for a very bad neighbor...
Don't worry: I won't burn it down. I'll just move.