Monday, September 14, 2015

The OddHouse

Some days, life hurts my ears.

Due to the echo-y dwelling I've lived in since June, there is not one spot within the four walls to find silence. I've closed multiple doors, have turned on fans, ran the dryer. The backyard is no real sanctuary, since the windows are usually open, and noise bleeds right through.

Over the past several years, there have been multiple tenants in this strange house we've owned, about eight groups in varied formation who've moved in, and then moved out. The track record hasn't been great: Two renters had to be hospitalized for depression, several suffered mysterious health problems, at least one miscarried, and multiple couples divorced.

Only one, the longest-staying, seemed unscathed by the place. I think the toughness gained from their having been in the military might have had something to do with that.

"The place should've never been built," said the last tenant, a feisty senior citizen with a distinct Chicago accent who moved out with his wife before the syndrome could set in. I was surprised at his comment. Someone was finally saying out loud what I'd thought all along.

"It's an afterthought," he'd gone on, "Look at the shape of the yard and this unusually long driveway. The builder wanted to make an extra buck, and cut space off the yards of the houses on either side."

I looked to my left and to my right, and it was undeniable.

I truly used to think that maybe the place was haunted, had some weird vibes, and swore I'd never live here, yet life's sort of I am. These days, I'm not sure about any hauntings...I now think the root of the other tenants' problems was simply the bizzaro floor plan. Rooms right on top of one another, narrow hallways, off-centered windows and walls that create mental noise on top of physical noise. The place is just kind of off, and adding volume to the mix doesn't help.

I don't blame the others for going a little bonkers, lacking the option of being alone with themselves; most souls need solitude. When souls don't get that, the human body tends to rebel.

Gagging the chief offender is probably all kinds of illegal, but in weaker moments I've thought about that, while whispering strong suggestions to "cut it" without being heard. (Door closed, yelling into a pillow).

"I can't stand a quiet house," several friends who've grown up in big families have said.

Well, I grew up in a big family, too, and I can stand the quiet just fine. I can stand it so well that when I house and God-dog sat for my youngest sister for ten days, I hardly went outdoors. The absolute, uninterrupted peace was what I'd been craving since birth.

"C'mon, Ame! Don't just sit there!" my older sister used to say, "Let's go do something!"

Yet being away from what I viewed as an insane, useless scuffle in the common area of our growing-up house was my version of doing something. I was actively avoiding the over-activity.

That didn't mean that I was antisocial, boring, or unimaginative. That didn't mean that I was lazy or lacked ambition. In those cases, I'm recharging my batteries so I can dive back in with renewed energy. I'm more than happy to be around people. I'm usually one of the last to leave a good party, I've been known to unknowingly close restaurants with small groups of friends, and I love encountering new and interesting personalities. But I need my downtime, too, and if I don't get it, I don't function.

Honestly, I'm wary of people who have to be "on" all the time, and who have a serious aversion to being alone with their thoughts. It takes a whole heckuva lot more energy to try to outrun yourself than to just take some time and sort stuff out. And, not news: that plan won't work.

So, for now, I'm thinking of those who've bravely gone before at this super-wonky "OddHouse", not even wanting to ponder what the winter hibernation months will bring. And I'm praying for peace on earth, which in turn will nurture goodwill towards men.

And...I'm ear-plugging it.