An open letter to the neighbour I have not met

Dear girl who lives in the apartment below,

I haven’t met you yet but I feel over these past four months or so I’ve really gotten to know you. Weird huh?

You and I aren’t so different – I hope one day we may be friends as we really seem to have a lot in common:

I laugh a lot. You laugh a lot. Yours is really loud laugh but I think that’s a good thing in a laugh.  Mine can be loud sometimes too, I’m sure of it. Your laugh, however, arrives at unusual times –like 3am on a Tuesday morning. I suppose that’s good in a laugh; being spontaneous and unexpected. I like unexpected laughs. You know sometimes I laugh when I’m not really listening properly to someone. You ever done that? Like you’re not listening at all, you’re just sort of watching their face and listening to the rhythm and melody of their voice and then there’s a pause and you think that’s your cue for a laugh, so you do but as your overly loud laugh escapes you suddenly realise … NO – this is not where I was meant to laugh! But it’s too late now and they get all upset because they were talking about their divorce / the cat they ran over / how they lost their job / cancer / palm oil and now you look like some sort of sadist – kinda like how you come across when you burst into really, really loud laughter for a really, really long time at 3am on a Tuesday morning.

I am clumsy. You are clumsy. Sometimes I think my clumsiness is endearing in that romantic comedy Meg-Ryan-Goldie-Hawn-esque way … I walk into things and trip over things and fall up stairs. It is sometimes hilarious, often embarrassing, but it just is. And I hear that you, too, have the same issue. I can hear you falling over and tripping over and dropping stuff … Usually at 3am in the morning. Which is another major difference I suppose. I mean, I have fallen over at 3am but that had nothing to do with clumsiness and was not really endearing at all …

I like sex. You like sex. And I am happy that you are getting such GREAT sex – as you tell us, very loudly, at 3am. I understand this. Absolutely. I’m all for self-expression. But I do wonder if the aforementioned ‘self-expression’ has to sound like a hippopotamus with a loud-speaker? And if it does, which is fine if that works for you guys, does the hippo have to have a frickin loud-speaker at 3am?

I like to talk. You like to talk. I can get loud when I talk. Like, I get on my high-horse and just GO and no-one can get a word in and … well, I’m sure you get it. Your vocal projection, however, is something else! I wonder if you are even conversing with someone in the same apartment / building / suburb. That kind of vocal endurance is impressive – maybe you’re an actor too? That’d be something else in common huh?

I like to slam doors to make a point. So do you.

I like to listen to music. So do you.

I like to sing. So do you.

I like to jump and run. So do you. (I do prefer to that outside but whatever)

I like to sleep. So …

Nope, there it is – the deal-breaker. “But why?” you ask, really, extremely, unnecessarily loudly …


Because as much as I  like late nights and staying out and drinking and having fun and so do you … When I get back to my place, my APARTMENT, in a BLOCK OF APARTMENTS, all in VERY CLOSE PROXIMITY, I like to be aware that there are people living REALLY CLOSE-BY, like REALLY, REALLY CLOSE-BY.

Because I do not like your


clumsy antics


sexual encounters


hippopotamus impersonations

loud voiced, one-way conversations



falling over

door slamming

bad singing

big stomping

I do not like anything except sleep at 3am on Tuesday morning…

Please be more considerate.

Kind regards,

The girl who lives upstairs


two a.m.


Avril Lavigne covering The Beatles. A small child screaming for his mother.

The cat. Scratching at the door.

Sirens. Sirens.

The wind.

An avocado falls out of my head and onto the page. It splits in two.



I don’t even like avocado. I like how they look in the fruit bowl. I consider decorative, plastic avocado.

The people below come home. Voices. Humming softly. Chatting. Or fighting. They fight a lot. In the mornings there are post-it notes of desperate, passionate love on their front door. In the evenings torn post-it notes of despair litter the parking lot.  Sad confetti.

The possums fight. Or have sex. Or both. I wonder if they take their cues from the people who live below.

The people above move furniture around all night. They are insomniacs. They are dancers. They must clear room to practice their salsa, their foxtrot, their hip-hop routine at seventeen past two in the morning. It isn’t their fault they cannot sleep. They have to do something.

Sirens. Sirens.

A truck on the highway. Or is it a freeway? The pipes hum. Toilets flush. Lights switch on. Off. On. Off. Stilettos strike the footpath. Something falls. Or someone. A match is lit. A car broken into. Maybe. A twenty-one-past-two-in-the-morning snack is made. I was very comfortable in bed. I had found that perfect position for sleep. The music continues. The possums continue. I feel an ulcer on the tip of my tongue. In a few hours the man with the leaf-blower will start leaf-blowing. He always starts at six. On a Tuesday. He is very reliable.

The kitchen table is full of mail but none of it is mine.

Mark James Lilley. He used to live here. I have his mail.

Maria Giovangulous. She used to live here.  I have her mail.

Kevin Chan. He used to live here. I have his mail.

I wonder if they all lived together. I wonder if there was some kind of house-share-love-triangle which didn’t end well and thus led to me living in Mark, Maria and Kevin’s old place.

The fridge is humming.

The kitchen window is open. Possums come into the kitchen and play at being human. Worry about what to cook for dinner. Drink too much. Ignore the ever-growing stack of dirty dishes.

The fruit bowl is empty. That worries me. I need more fruit. Tomorrow. Apples.