I’ll be honest, it’s a bit of an adjustment to get used to living in an apartment again.I haven’t been a flat dweller since 1999. Although luckily the diminished space hasn’t been much of an issue. It’s given me an opportunity to get in touch with my inner Thoreau – simplify, simplify!
The hardest thing to deal with has been having neighbors in rather intimate proximity. Shared walls, competing for parking spaces, and a strange passive aggressive relationship with the recycling bins are things that I’ve reluctantly accepted as part of my current reality. I will say that most of my building-mates and close neighbors have kept pretty much to themselves. This, in case you’re just joining the party, is exactly how I like it. Awkward small talk with strangers does not make a showing on my list of Things I’d Like To Do Today. Of course, once I got the puppy, everyone wanted to pet him. But that’s acceptable for he functions as a social buffer. People give him love and perhaps exchange a brief pleasantry with me, then go on their merry way without forcing me to suffer extended, uncomfortable chitter-chatter.
Caveat. You knew there was going to be one.
Enter The Beautiful Couple. TBC moved into the apartment above me a few months after I settled in. For the first week or so I never saw them, but boy did they make their arrival known. I was convinced that an elephant and a rhino had taken up residency. Thump. Crash. Bang. They even walked loudly.
Then I met them. And they sport neither trunk nor horn. They’re absolutely… well, beautiful. Even their names are uncommonly cool . (While I know the likelihood of them stumbling onto this and connecting it to me is astronomically poor, sorry not sorry, I’m still not telling.)
TBC are in their early 30’s and a perfect example of opposites attract. She’s brunette, quiet and classically elegant. And that’s about all I know of her, for she almost never speaks to me beyond a perfunctory hello. He on the other hand is a ruggedly handsome, outgoing ginger, sporting the regionally requisite beard and plaid flannel. Maybe because we most often meet whilst taking out our respective dogs, he feels we’re part of the Canine Clique, thus making us insta-pals. Perhaps he’s just the kind of guy that’s comfortable talking up strangers. Whatever the reason he always, always pulls me into the dreaded chit-chat.
Ever my suave self, I’ve been able to transition the uncomfortable small talk into a less graceless neighborliness. (Say that 5 times fast.) Well done, we might congratulate our socially awkward heroine. So you’d think.
The problem is, it appears that his and my amicable, if benign, acquaintanceship rubs her wrong. It started at Christmas when our dogs exchanged gifts. Yes, you read that correctly. My puppy gave their dog a rawhide, and he gave Derpy Dog a ball. Trifling tokens of doggie camaraderie. She went from distant to downright frosty overnight. Ack. Worse, he’s completely oblivious of her displeasure and in a blundering (albeit charming) innocence, continues to make it worse.
For example. Last weekend I unexpectedly encountered them at the top of a mountain. It was a beautiful day for a hike and I found a great option for Derpy Dog’s first climb. As we crested the top of the rise, there TBC was holding hands, admiring the view, a picture of outdoorsy romance. He, however, clearly spoiled the moment for her by dropping her hand, waving exuberantly to me and redirecting their dog to come greet us. He couldn’t see her face, but I felt the painful jab as she glared daggers into my heart.
The Green Eyed Monster is an ugly beast. I realize, because I’ve been her, that she’s reacting not to my actions which are uncensurable, but to her own insecurities. Still, at the same time there’s an indignant inner voice that wants to scream, get over it; nothing illicit is going on here! I empathize, but does that mean I have to give up engaging with the one person in my neighborhood who has made the effort to draw this flower away from the wall just to assuage her self doubts?
And this is why I introvert.