by: Patrick Gill
I am serenely shitting in the chintz and rusted luxury laden half bathroom, with the padded powder blue toilet seat, matching sink basin, and gold fleck laminate counter tops.
Then there is noise, it rides the immoveable summer air, flattening into the other side of my shared wall with those loveable bros next door. Country Roads, take me home, to the place, I belong. West Virginia, mountain Mama– that is on repeat, just the chorus. They shout-sing it three more times, before launching into the bass thump and whine of Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop”.
Walls of various thickness and acoustic quality are the side effects of renting an apartment in a building that was converted from a warehouse, to an office, yet originally was a bank or a theater, one of the buildings so that’s old and has passed through so many hands that you don’t question whether or not it has ghosts ; The type of apartment where everything breaks after a year, when you are supposed to leave because the lease ran out and your landlord won’t fix anything.
Bigger than my problems with the thin galley kitchen without ventilation and the living room window that popped off the frame and never could close—was the noise. I don’t care what it was before, this place was converted from a Noise Factory.
It wasn’t just that the bros who had a party, that they would kindly invite us too, every two weeks—in the summer it was twice a week. It wasn’t just the drum playing drug dealer whose drum set was right above my bed, who only seemed play these drums around midnight. Nor her sub letter who shifted couches and chairs and every piece of furniture near nightly. It’s wasn’t the 3 o’clock on Friday and Wednesday afternoon bottle-hitting-bottle crash that rose from the emptying recycling cans of the L and L, nor bottles being broken by drunk Cubbie Bros in the pay parking lot just outside my bedroom window.
It’s wasn’t our apratment’s Friday night FratBeats.com playlists blasting, don’t you dare fucking judge me for that, or the Saturday morning ritual of hung over resurrections to the sounds of Beyonce live at Glastonbury– that night we would hear in the alleyway someone try to sing “Love On Top” at the top of their lungs in an octave three floors too high. It’s not Sunday Funday, I don’t have time for that shit, but all of my friends declared this apartment as grand central station before their liquid brunch. It’s not the fifth time my roommate watched JJ Abrams’ Star Trek with surround sound screaming and all I can shout is “LENS FLAIR LENS FLARE so much Lens Flare, I am blinded, where’s Simon Pegg, I’m hungry”.
It was, that as bad at keeping all noises out, those walls were so terrific at keeping every noise in. The chalk white corners reflected the wails after they passed through doors and windows—motorcycles tearing apart Clark, queens on the corner with clattering heels and high noted conversation, the unyielding groan of the broken toilet and buckling floor, the clap and roll feet spilling from other floor’s apartment. With each pass through my body, the echoes were blunted, still they shook my sweat.
On hot nights, we didn’t have AC, so even the chime of the bus and train would eat through the thick boiled air and I couldn’t sleep through it. I became bag eyed, weak armed, with such a thick tounge that I lost my ability to articulate exhaustion.
Eventually I would get up. I learned to shake till sound came out, I would join the chorus. It’s damn near impossible to not adapt to something as pervasive as constant sound.
At the end of summer and the second year of my lease, I was shitting again, and I heard John Denver. Country roads, take me home, to the place, I belong; West Virginia, mountain Mama, Country Roads, Take me home. I don’t know, if they hear me sing along or not, and I don’t give a fuck, I always hear them. We make the noises of this factory as we operate in our own designs. The more you listen, the easier it is for you to imagine a rhythm.