the neighbourhood

Our new street is noisy.

This is not a complaint. The noise is friendly and human-scaled: cats crying from windows, children calling back and forth, bits of conversation from smokers on balconies. Couple of cars now and then. Elm leaves rubbing against each other in their masses.

At our old place, the noise had a distinctly different quality. Cars were parking and departing constantly on our street, so that the sounds we heard were stacatto and abrupt. A door slam, an engine cough, a drunken yell at night. The empty insect-ridden prairie that lurks behind the image of our city was particularly close to the surface there, always rising up and stealing the calm and lightness of the day. Not so here, though, where the trees are older and the peak-roofed houses crowd together. Most of the people on our block are members of young families who get tax breaks for settling down in the neighbourhood. It's part of the city's plan to rid the area of its prostitutes, skinheads and meth labs.

So it turns out the house directly across from us is a meth lab. Apparently no one opens up crack houses any more. The place is a striking sky-blue with an unpainted wooden door that makes it look condemned. People come and go at all hours, announcing their presence with sharp whistles or strangled yells. The whistling is so commonplace that I thought a strange bird had settled in the area. A displaced kookabura. When you whistle a skinny girl in cutoffs pulls open the door and lets you in.

According to the former tenant of the apartment, she once saw somebody fall out a window on the second story into the alley. Fortunately the gang of skinheads next door came out and took care of the guy.

I absolutely fucking love our new place. With a meth lab and skinheads across the street, I'm going to forget the theatre and haul a tub of popcorn onto the balconey.