I moved into my coop on November 20, 1997. Not that it’s an important date, but the only real estate, I had an interest in, prior to that, were two cemetery plots in Queens. Trust me; I had nothing to do with buying them.
The building was constructed in 1929, just before the crash. Not too many buildings were constructed during the depression, so it’s one of the last of the pre-war apartments. Pre-war in the city (Manhattanâ€™s always called that) means World War Two.
Okay, the history lessonâ€™s out of the way, and never to be given again. My 630 Square feet, or three rooms, one and a half baths, of prime city real estate, is as sound proofed as an apartment without foam and acoustic tiles can be. My apartment on 63rd Street off Fifth had the fore-mentioned before I rented it. I suppose the madam entertained, and didnâ€™t want the neighbors hearing.
I donâ€™t know why exactly. The building had been constructed in the early 1920â€™s, the ceilings were twelve feet high, and I could usually only hear the people right next door. And anybody who was conversing in a bathroom on my line. People forget that bathroom heat pipes carry sound.
Maybe, she was being thoughtful, as prostitution no matter how high end is illegal. There were only sixteen apartments on six floors, and for most of the time I lived there everybody knew everyone else is business. Though, most people were friendly, nobody would ever dare ask personal questions, except when deep into their cups. It wasnâ€™t proper.
People in my building, now keep to themselves. Itâ€™s much larger, and a typical New York Coop. The only time I hear any noise on my wing is when Iâ€™m waiting in the hallway for the elevator. My friends joke that Iâ€™m the noisy neighbor. Until recently I was the only person on the wing not to listen to classical music all the time. Iâ€™m much more the rock, blues and alt/almost anything type.
In the morning I could hear the young girl upstairs get ready for work. She had that fast eager step only young girls seem to have. I never did as I was the get-up-at-five, and stare at myself without seeing, for two hours type. My apartment is the only one on the line to have a bath and a half, and the large one isnâ€™t in the bedroom, but off the living room.
I never minded hearing her. It was a nice way to get up, as my job didnâ€™t begin until ten. I hadnâ€™t needed an alarm clock in years as I was used to getting up very early
I wasnâ€™t really aware that she moved out. It was the fall of 2001; I had left my job and had much on my mind. I donâ€™t know when I became aware of the constant late night noise upstairs. Somebody was constantly falling; it was loud and would begin around two AM; then he would go into the bathroom, puke for a good hour, and then fall back his way to bed. I became scared that he would hurt himself, and couldnâ€™t sleep until he fell asleep.
Promptly at eight thirty the building workers would come into my apartment to fix the bedroom that had been almost ruined by one too many floods. We would get memoâ€™s saying â€œbe vigilant and watch the pipes before they burst.â€ Now I donâ€™t know about you, but I have no idea how to watch pipes that are behind walls for floods until they actually began flooding. My bedroom floor has pipes under it. This is probably the only thing that I have learned from the Super in the Five years that heâ€™s been here.
Nobody could explain these memo’s to me as nobody understood them.
Fernando, the doorman, and my source for all building gossip then, told me that Wyatt, who owned the apartment, had been living somewhere else but was asked to leave shortly after 9/11 as his constant falling from being drunk had posed a security risk.
I decided to wait out the winter until the work in my apartment was done. Then I would go to sleep at 3:30 AM as I had been and sleep late in the morning. But after a lifetime of getting up early; I couldnâ€™t sleep late. And I love to sleep.
I had nightmares every night so getting up early really wasnâ€™t a horrible thing. But I was constantly tired; in mourning for my city and my mom who had died a month after 9/11.
Eventually he had the bedroom carpeted; and the falling was muted. I grew used to it; and began sleeping almost full nights. He would wake me up half the time when he was puking. He made a sound that drove me crazy. I almost recognized it; should have known it, but couldnâ€™t place it. The bathroom pipe would amplify any noise.
Over the past two years, heâ€™s been coming home earlier. Some days he doesnâ€™t go out at all. (I can hear his motivational tapes in my bedroom bath,) and he plays music loudly. That never bothers me; the tapes bother me as the voices are so familiar yet so unknown. If it were just a bit louder I would hear it, block it out and never think about it. He still falls and pukes constantly.
I have a combination coffee grinder, and maker. One morning the grinder had just finished and the coffee had begun to brew a noise. I heard a very distinct â€œmoo.â€
â€œThatâ€™s strange,â€ I thought â€œRiverside Park doesnâ€™t have cows. Wait a sec, my apartment doesnâ€™t face Riverside Park, even if it did have a cow spending the night, and the noise came from the other side.â€
Then loudly and distinctly, I heard a series of moos. Itâ€™s his puking noise. One of the bigger mysteries of my life had just been solved. Now if I could just figure out the tape he plays.