There were indeed a number of factors to consider and this move would be a pretty big change for this city boy. But the part that required no thought whatsoever was the prospect of having almost no neighbours… and almost no neighbour noise. That part sounded like heaven to me.
I could write a book about my dealings with noisy neighbours, having experienced the good, the bad and the ugly over the last 30 years.
When we pick a place to live, there is always a package deal of pros and cons to consider before signing on the dotted line. No matter how perfect a place may seem, there will be irritants for which patience and some degree of compromise will be needed on both parts.
And just like anything in life, nothing is really certain nor permanent. Great neighbours, as well as the lousy ones, come and go.
As much as I enjoyed my last house for 19 years, it wasn’t without its moments of blaring stereos, roaring cars, screaming kids, disobedient dogs, industrial vehicles and 3:00 a.m. parties, but that’s life in the city when you have neighbours. Part of that package deal was ideal proximity to transit, shopping and an abundance of cultural events.
It didn’t matter if “quiet enjoyment of premises” was supposed to be a reassuring clause in each of my apartment leases or in the big book of condo rules, but someone’s urge to make noise always seemed greater than my craving for the calm to recover from the roar of city life.
I could certainly overlook the occasional loud party, family function or epic-scale musical event once in a while, when “quiet enjoyment of premises” was the norm. But when I have been jolted out of bed regularly by late night war movies on surround sound, or my glassware was clinking in the cupboards from the pounding dance club beats next door (even on “school nights”), I strained to find my accommodating spirit.
Whenever it was brought to the occupants’ attention, gently suggesting that this was perhaps too loud for the walls that we shared, only to be met with self-entitled “my home is my castle” arguments, there was a cumulative effect of exasperation with neighbours over the years.
To the neighbours who gasped and said they weren’t aware that it was too loud and instantly turned down the volume, I extend my heartfelt thanks.
In most of the places I have lived, the roar may not have been constant but in the grand scheme of things, the moments where decibel readings were at their lowest were rather fleeting. I yearned to make them last, savouring early Saturday and Sunday mornings to read or to write, to sip my coffee, and always wishing those moments of serenity would last well into the afternoon. But they rarely did.
I would be lying if I said I never blared music. I definitely did in my late teens and early 20’s and I completely appreciate the sensory experience of feeling the music. I sometimes wonder if the noisy neighbours I encountered were karmic payback for those I might have inadvertently offended so long ago.
Now, in the new place, the tables have turned. Calm is the norm and the moments of loud noises are the exception… and I love it… every last second of it.
Whether I am taking a stroll around our property or just walking to the mailbox, the absence of ambient noise still has me stopping to take notice.
I sometimes find myself tuning my ears like the Bionic Woman’s Jamie Sommers listening more closely to the surrounding quiet, and realizing that all I hear is more layers of deep quiet.
I have caught myself unexpectedly sighing deeply, not out of boredom or exasperation, but rather as deep relaxation set in as I let go of my suburban apprehension of never really knowing when the next loud neighbour noise will start. I would like to think that this is my new reality, and I remind myself to appreciate every moment (just in case).
With farmers’ fields surrounding us, of course we have heard agricultural equipment from time to time, but those moments are greatly outnumbered by the days where all we can hear is the breeze rustling through the trees and the birds singing their joyful songs of summer.
We do have neighbours, but not to the extent like I have lived with before, and after one month, I think it would be fair to say that we are all of a similar mindset when it comes to maintaining the “quiet enjoyment of premises”… at least I hope so, and I pray I didn’t just jinx it.
We have already noted some of the trade-offs we have made, being farther away from shopping, from our cultural events as well as living with occasionally irregular Internet connectivity. That is the package deal for this dwelling.
My appreciation for the calmer quieter moments could also be due the fact that I am close to the middle line between extrovert and introvert. Although I have no problem expending extrovert energy in my daily work life, I need time of introversion to balance things out, to be able to do it all over again the next day.
However, with my countdown clock to retirement officially ticking away with an approximate date in mind, it makes me grin from ear to ear to think that this degree of silence may indeed be the background music to which my retirement ambitions as a writer will play out. That would truly be the best retirement gift after a busy work life of noisy bus commutes, open concept offices, ringing phones and screeching dot matrix printers.
I don’t know if it is the sounds of life in general that have worn me out, or is it that city noise has progressively gotten louder. Either way, I have come to treasure how the absence of noise is the soothing antidote to a life that seems filled with it. For this reason alone, country life seems to agree with me.
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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,