Was it St. Hildegard of Bingen or Julian of Norwich who said, “Hell is other people?” I’ve always believed I enjoyed a past life as an English anchoress visionary mystic living with a cat or 12 in some 14th century hut, spending my days in sun-infused silence, engaged in my contemplative obligations.
Alas. In this lifetime, like most other artists, writers, musicians, and addicts, I am a certified, and often certifiable, highly sensitive introvert. The whole point of hanging out a “Writer For Hire” shingle and freelancing from home is that it allows us to be alone, quiet, independent, undisturbed, contemplative creatives, right? At least that’s the primary pay off for my cats and me.
I had to make a residence move two months ago. I vacated a lovely, modern, well-kept home in a very quiet, private community, populated mostly by “mature” humans who were not allowed to shoot firearms for kicks or let their cats and dogs run free or bark incessantly, lest they be severely admonished by the POA.
And now I live in hell. Other people’s hell.
Despite offering what I believed was a very blunt and clear description of my lifestyle (work-from-home-24/7-full-time writer), needs (privacy, quiet, solitude, peace, 24/7 hermit recluse), and wants (LEAVE ME ALONE) when interviewing with my current landlords, I’ve had to, shall we say, “reinforce and assert my boundaries” several times in the last two months.
There was the firing off of the new shotgun yards from my (open) living room window while I was engaged in an online interview – with audio. Despite being assured that the two dogs living next door would “never be on my property,” of course they visit daily, much to the displeasure of my two cats. The cats are also not overly fond of the four cats next door and the two seeming strays that regularly pee on my tires and scent mark our front door.
After a day that found me struggling to write every single word and delaying my beloved walk until late afternoon, my landlord popped over unannounced for the third time. I sorta lost it. When he decided to drive his Subaru through my front yard a few evenings later, I totally lost it.
And then there was the night two weeks ago when the cats and I ran to the windows to see what was causing massive amounts of noise in our back yard. Naturally, it was a drunken neighbor riding his tractor right toward our house. Apparently, cutting my grass with his heavy equipment struck him as a helpful and neighborly thing to do.
Don’t get me started on the constantly yapping, maniacal barking dogs that surround me, or the really loud traffic noise from the road in front of me. Don’t those screaming children playing outdoors know that I am within hearing range and trying to write?
I’d already asked one set of kids to please not use my front yard as a short cut on their travels, but last weekend when one young boy cut through twice, I lost it again. I truly became that archetypal crazy neighbor cat lady screaming through the window:
HEY! You kids! Get off my lawn!”
Sort of a far cry from:
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
-St. Julian of Norwich
Writer Bio: Laura W is surrounded by unpacked boxes eagerly anticipating a move before winter.