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Apartment for Rent

Our tenants moved out yesterday. While their decision to move and the suddenness with which they emptied the apartment surprised us a little, the impulse to separate their lives from ours was an impulse we shared. Like a cloying girlfriend, her breaking up with us saved us the trouble of breaking up with her.

We recognize that “firing up” is not the biggest deal in the world. Although it isn’t something that Stephanie and I have chosen to do recreationally, we are constantly surprised to discover how common, how casual, and how accepted it is among our friends and neighbors. Nonetheless, we don’t want the choices of others to override the choices we’ve made for ourselves and our family.

After three separate episodes of our living room being filled with the aroma of burning hash, and after addressing it with our neighbors each time, the dissolution of our living arrangement was clearly necessary. So clear in fact that they started moving out even before the conversation we had with them last evening.  That conversation, however, was positive  and (I hope) left each of us with positive feelings about the other. They decided to move out when they realized that their lives were having a negative impact on ours, and that as a result we’d probably be asking for their keys soon anyway.

In chit-chatty conversations after we had resolved the Big Issue, we told them that we had been otherwise glad to have them, and we acknowledged that the noise the children made in all their youthful exuberance must have been inconvenient at times. The speed and degree with which they agreed with us let us clearly understand that it must have been a big issue. It must be pretty bad to live underneath all of that.

This echoes some of the feedback we have gotten from our previous tenants and from some of our guests who have stayed with us over the summer. It isn’t as if we let the boys play WWF or re-enact Gulf War shock and awe. There is no rope swing tied from the ceiling fan, but God bless ‘em, they can’t resist the impulse to chase each other around the living room and kitchen, and I don’t doubt that it sounds like the thundering of ten thousand head of buffalo scarring the plains. Toys get dropped, structures built of cake pans are toppled, closet doors and toiled lids are slammed, and toddlers fall down. This is our life, and we live a lot of it in our house.

Solutions are elusive. We’ve talked about installing some kind of soundproofing in our floor: an expensive option. We’ve talked about turning the space into a bed and breakfast, a hair salon, or a day care. We’ve considered remodeling it to make one large house and let the kids rumpus all they want downstairs. And we’ve talked about maintaining the status quo while making sure prospective tenants are clearly forewarned. Each idea has its merit, and some ideas are more expensive (and impractical) than others. In the meantime we’ll be posting an ad on Craigslist soon.

And all of this causes us to face the fact that living so closely with others involves all kinds of complexity. Living in relationship is a difficult thing to do. Each of us is a flawed person, and we have no choice but to deal with other flawed people. The results can be alternately sublime or disastrous. Clear communication and heaps kindness are required to get along, so these are the ingredients we strive to pour over each new relationship.

Posted on Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 12:54PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | Comments3 Comments

Reader Comments (3)

I guess that was bound to happen. I can't imagine smelling that stuff (don't even know what the smell is like).

Good luck with your next tenant.
January 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDad
We are fortunate enough to occupy the first floor of the house we rent. But I've been in the basement digging food from the freezer when the girls chase each other, as they do daily. Though only 21 and 30 pounds, they sounded like elephants. I couldn't believe how much rucus two little beings can make. But they are kids, and you can't stop them. And, I figure, they are quiet by 8 pm, so how bad could it be? We are also lucky because we don't have anyone renting the upstairs apartment right now. Just before the girls and I moved in, there were 4 children living upstairs. I love our apartment right now. But will I still when there IS someone upstairs and we have 3 kids instead of 2 and we have to share a small driveway and all the other little things that go along with sharing space with others? Good luck in your decision.
January 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarissa
"...the noise the children made in all their youthful exuberance..."

Sounds that only their Grandparents could truly cherish and enjoy hearing.

Just something to think about.
January 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMom (Lizabeth)

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