Head Title BiDesign

Denise Stoughton | Designer

Apartment Dwelling Disorder

Apartment-living is different than house-living in many ways. Not least of which is literally having neighbors on top of you. As a noise-sensitive lover of zen-living, I’m hyper-vigilant about ensuring my environment is visually, acoustically, and spiritually balanced (insert pitying chortle here). Upon moving into my humble abode, I thought I’d hit the apartment-dwelling-lotto as the two-bedroom apartment above me was mercifully vacant. I enjoyed the blissful tranquility for as long as the universe would allow. One ordinary day, which started out like any other, the inevitable happened: An enormous moving truck pulled up.

Apartment Dwelling Disorder Denise and Tula

Movers efficiently marched a long line of brand spanking new furniture into the apartment upstairs. I know it’s wrong (and possibly illegal) to judge someone on the basis of good or bad decorating taste, but I did. With an arched brow, I scanned the line of fabulous furniture and sighed a deep sigh of decorating-diva relief. Surely, the owner of these lovely belongings would make a wonderful neighbor.

I anticipated running into the stylish newbie soon and hearing a certain level of activity from above, but there was neither a sighting nor a peep. Three months passed: Still nothing. I became curious about the occupant: Part-time resident? Secret lovers’ hideaway? Eventually, I questioned my own sanity. Had I hallucinated the march of the glorious furniture? That would be so like me! I was reminded of my time in New York when I had a roommate who paid rent for two years, but never spent a single night in the apartment. Her name was Stella Rockers. I was sure it was an alias, and sometimes, I wasn’t sure she was even real,... but the checks kept on coming (that’s a story for another time!). Whatever the reason for the coveted silence, I thought, “Girl, you really have hit the apartment-dwelling-lotto!”

Apartment Dwelling Disorder Denise and Tula w/ Eye Cover

However, as we know, the universe has a funny way of waking you up. Quite literally, as it turned out. At four in the morning. On a workday.

So much for my perfect “enviro-Zen-ment”. I was jolted out of a blissful sleep by an aggressive, male voice speaking rather loudly on the phone and became acutely aware of my upstairs neighbor for the first time. Did I mention it was four in the morning?

I not-so-patiently endured the loud chatter for a good ten to fifteen minutes before leaping from the cottony comfort of my bed, half-crazed, to hunt down and kill this guy - good decorating taste be damned. I launched up two sets of stairs and pounded on his door, ready to give him a piece of my mind (not a good piece - not something I’d need later. Like if there was an old, shriveled up piece,...).

Apartment Dwelling Disorder Denise and Tula Close Up

Through the door, I heard the person say, “Someone’s knocking at my door. I wonder if I’m being too loud?” Umm, yes. Yes, you’re being too loud when someone has to get their ass out of bed at 4:15 am and come knocking.

The door opens, and it’s,... a woman? For real, people, she sounded like a man from downstairs! So much for my bad attitude and bravado. I’m stunned into silence.

Sans the phone and smiling genially (did this perp think tossing the weapon and cooperating with my questions would make them less culpable?), she says, “Oh, was I being too loud?” in her new (to me) lady voice.

“Gee, not at all, I just thought I’d come on up at 4:15 am and welcome you to the building in my bare feet, pajamas, and frizzy hair look,” said no one ever. Between clenched teeth, I managed to respond in clipped syllables, “I hear every single word.”

Apartment Dwelling Disorder Denise and Tula Collage

By way of full explanation, man-lady states, “Oh, sorry – I’m on East Coast time.”

Aha! I knew her, and once upon a time, I was her. Still, I wanted to slap her hard enough that she’d be back on the East Coast in less than a New York minute! I’m sure I gave her that oh-my-god-I-can’t-even look before trying unsuccessfully to toss a solid mass of tangled, bedhead hair over my shoulder and performed an awkward, about-face down to my apartment.

I returned to bed and pretended I might actually go back to sleep. Instead, I ruminated over ten different, bitchier, and better responses that I could have said to East Coast man-lady-with-great decorating-taste and possibly would say next time I saw her. Right now, she just needed to nama-stay out of my way.

The next day, much calmer, I became fascinated with man-lady’s “I’m on East Coast time” statement. I thought about the not mutually exclusive feelings of being super annoyed about her sheer inconsiderateness and weirdly knowing I’d just met a kindred spirit.

Suddenly being angry about the entire situation seemed futile and funny, and I laughed at myself. Surely, I must have been quite the site in my match-y, match-y, perfectly-pressed, Ralph Lauren, pastel pajamas trying to act all badass. What was I thinking? I practice yoga, drink Chai Tea, clip coupons, and rescue dogs. Can you be type-A and zen? I’m sure if anyone will understand, it’s “East Coast man-lady” in the apartment upstairs. We’re bound to be the best of neighbors because that is just so New York as well as part of life here on Bainbridge Island.

Apartment Dwelling Disorder Denise and Denise

After this incident, another two weeks went by before I bumped into “East Coast” in the hallway. We had a good laugh, she apologized profusely, and we introduced ourselves properly. For those who don’t believe the universe has a sense of humor: Her name is Denise! Yep, I can’t make this up. Denise and I are planning on going out for drinks in the very near future, and my apartment-dwelling experience is all the more interesting for having her around. She’s a pistol!

Bainbridge Island Design