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Debra Kirouac

The Pros and Cons of Condo Living


Less than two years ago I bought my first home – a 1,000 square foot, two-bedroom condo boasting an exposed brick wall and custom mantel around a wood-burning fireplace. The view of the treetops is pretty spectacular: in winter, the verdant backdrop turns all-white, rivaling even the most picturesque New England vista in February. As spring and summer roll around, I enjoy watching everything come back to life after its winter dormancy, and the fall brings with it spectacular bursts of red and orange as the leaves turn color right outside my sliding glass doors. 
These are the “pros” of condo living: Gorgeous scenery, both inside and out.
Having neighbors in close proximity is both a blessing and a curse. I’m thankful my son and I reside on the top floor so we don’t have to hear the Frankenstein’s monster-like footsteps of anyone above us. And since a lot of the building is brick, the noise level is blessedly low, although sometimes as I lie in bed at night I can hear the young couple downstairs “laughing.” When I sit on my couch, the sound of repetitive, shockingly-loud sneezing sometimes permeates my solitude. Those are courtesy of the lightning rod across the hall. 
These are the “pros” of condo living: I am lucky to live in a relatively-quiet building.
But let’s get back to that neighbor across the hall. For this article, she will be known as “The Dumpster-Diving Nurse,” or “DDN,” for short. 
These are the “cons” of condo living: Interloping neighbors who’ve escaped from a David Lynch film.
Let me preface the following with this: I know I am not perfect, but I do try to be respectful of people’s space and time. I have made some faux pas before: one time (okay, okay, several times) I left a garbage bag filled with dirty cat litter outside my door to take to the trash the next morning. “Luckily” for me, DDN caught me one afternoon as I schlepped about 8,000 bags of groceries up the spiral staircase, my son trailing behind me. She proceeded to block and reprimand me for the aforementioned garbage which, she said dramatically, caused her to “nearly pass out.” After she finished recreating how she basically “got the vapors,” I apologized and never did it again. 
DDN is a Renaissance woman. Not only does she yell at the small children who sled joyously – and within inches of her dormant “garden” — on the only hill in the complex during the winter months, she also finds time to feed the feral condo cat who roams the property. Conversely, she also yells at anyone who accidentally lets the cat inside the building. This makes no sense to me, especially on those cold nights when she lets the cat into her condo. I once caught her holding this adorable ball of mange outside the building, speaking baby talk and thanking it for “sleeping with me last night!”
These are the “cons” of condo living: Mental illness.
One evening I tried to get into my building, but that furry feral feline blocked the door. I tried to move it gently with my foot, and it responded by biting my toes. When I complained to management, I was told he’s kept onsite to help with pest control, and, if it happened again, to “throw snow at it.”
These are the “cons” of condo living: Going against my gentle nature to assault a pathetic, feral cat in front of my seven-year-old son. Way to teach empathy!
DDN and the elderly couple downstairs, whom I liken to “human chimneys,” given their penchant for chain smoking indoors, like to gossip. If I leave a couple empty plastic bottles outside my door, they get rearranged. I thought I was imagining that one – perhaps hearing things – until I was told by management that DDN does, in fact, raid the communal garbage bin daily. Sometimes she even RETURNS items to people, asking if they want them back.
These are the “cons” of condo living: Sometimes, garbage comes back. 
This motley crew also likes accusing me of, say, leaving random containers of Sanka (coffee) on the rickety bench outside the front door where they inhale pounds of nicotine during the warmer months. Um, do I look like I drink SANKA? (I actually prefer “Brim.”) I’m sorry, but WHAT YEAR IS THIS?!
Late last summer, DDN found herself at my doorstep yet again – this time, to hand me more random, tiny vegetables from her garden. She greeted me with, “I hope I’m not bothering you; you just seem so unapproachable.” She ended our little tete-a-tete by telling me that my son’s bike, which rested against the railing outside my door, was a “fire hazard.”
These are the “cons” of condo living: As one of the youngest inhabitants, I get accused of random things. And I have to keep throwing away tiny vegetables with questionable origins.
One of the human chimneys once said to me, apropos of nothing, “I hope you never yell at me the way you yell at your son!”  I was too shocked to even respond to that one. Meanwhile, the feral condo cat roamed the property, deciding to use my sliding screen door – you know, through which I watch those aforementioned seasons change – as the world’s largest scratch post. 
These are the “cons” of condo living: Eavesdropping, judgment and destroyed property.
Would I recommend condo living? There are pros and cons to every living situation; houses bring with them nutty neighbors as well. At least in a condo, if I died of scurvy or rickets, DDN or the human chimneys would immediately smell the stench and call the coroner. They don’t have time for that crap!! My recyclables would then be neatly rearranged as my orphaned cat snacked on tiny, poisoned produce.
Top photo: Bigstock