I live in one of the, if not THE, wealthiest neighborhoods in Seattle. As a renter, obvi. But it is a privilege to walk my kids down beautiful tree-lined streets with craftsmen mansions on either side, dreaming of what we’d do if we ever won the lottery. It’s a great neighborhood to exist in. But I have found my fare share of rich person entitlement. People have asked me on several occasions if I’m “from the neighborhood” and which streets I live on. I get the feeling they are wondering if I’m a home owner/renter/passing through. I’ve been asked if I’m the nanny while at the park, and it’s clear on Halloween that we are not part of the cool kid club of parents who hang out and drink on the stoops while their kids run up and down the block. What a life.
There is also some wealthy-neighborhood silliness, like the constant hum of leaf blowers, as everyone’s lawn service descends onto the block rain or shine, whether their are leaves to blow, grass to mow, or not. Right at nap time, even on Sundays.
And living in an apartment has its sacrifices. Dealing with partying neighbors at 10pm in the summer when everyone’s windows are open and you’re gritting your teeth because “They are going to wake up the kids and oh my god it is SO LATE when is this going to END.” Old people stuff.
We live on the back end of the apartment building with views of Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains over the roof tops of these very large, million dollar homes. Directly behind our building is an ally where kids ride their bikes or play basketball, homeowners have access to their garages and backyards, etc. And I can hear everything that happens in these homes’ backyards. Every pool party, every barbecue, every lost dog, argument, shrieking child. And mostly it is nice. The neighborhood sounds.
Last week at some point I kept hearing voices and it would jar me awake, thinking it was the kids waking up. I think one of the neighbors was having a camp out in their backyard. Then on Friday night I kept waking up to the sound of music. I didn’t realize how late it was until I heard a woman yell out, “It is ONE AM can you PLEASE BE QUIET!!”
I’m going to operate on a hunch that this was a mom. I recognized the frazzled, desperate, frustrated tone. It wasn’t just that the neighbors across the ally from us were being loud and keeping her up, they were also keeping up the kids, preventing them from falling asleep, etc etc. Fae has been teething all week and has been up every 45 min multiple times a night last week and this weekend. Gabe slept through, but I could hear the other babies in the building start to wake up. At 1:00am.
It was three men, clearly drunk, listening to a really, really loud exercise video? Or something? It had blaring music accompanied with a female voice’s encouraging instructions. They were fucking around in their garage with the garage door open. And when they heard someone yell down (Trust me, they heard, we all heard, because of the homes and the brick building we live in everything is amplified), they turned the music UP. Now these are not college kids, they are not lone wolfs, these are dads- at least one of them is. The people who live in that house have two kids, a boy and a girl, and he sometimes plays basketball with them in the ally.
And in that moment I felt like…. you fucking rich fucks in your fucking giant house. What? The kids are at camp? You’re having a boys’ night in? And you don’t give a fuck about anyone else but yourself? Ok, so you live in your perfect capital hill house, in the most ideal neighborhood, and you think your actions don’t impact anyone else? Better yet, you just don’t care. You know they do, but you don’t give a single fuck.
When we’ve been looking for homes, our agents will often warn us about being near apartment buildings because of resale. And yes, people in apartments can be noisy because everyone shares walls and floors and ceilings. We’re all crammed in here and I’m sure the neighbors are intimately aware of any disagreement Kamel and I have. Just like I know all about my landlord’s mother in law. But it has been a rare thing to experience overt unneighborly behavior.
I’ve lost my point in a sea of frustration. Nice neighborhoods don’t make nice neighbors. And the entitlement of wealthy white men is suffocating me at every turn this summer. There is no reprieve, not even when I’m sleeping.