Sunday, March 1, 2009

An end to an era

I woke up this morning to birds singing and fresh air. The second time in nearly 11 years. The first was yesterday. Jimmy and Sue Taylor from downstairs moved back to some trailer park in Indiana on the family farm last Friday. After nearly 11 years of loud homicidal conversations starting at 4 am, the smoke from 2 x 2 packs a cigarettes a day wafting in through the bathroom cabinet and living room windows and the exhaust from the succession of Jimmy's clunkers filling our lives ... well, I can see rainbows and unicorns and pots of gold and fluffy clouds and clear skies and hear angels singing.

And oddly enough, we're going to miss them. Jimmy's bar fight stories were a hoot,
of course, only after living here a year or two when I realized they we're not going to kill us in our sleep because our baby sitter parked in the driveway for 10 minutes to drop my daughter off. Jimmy had a temper.

"I done did kill amman for touching my leather jacket back in Texas. Can't go through Texas anymore".

They were in their 50's or 60's and had lived in our apartment for 20 years until the Northridge
earthquake and then moved downstairs while repairs were done in our place. Jimmy said the stairs were killing him. He'd come and go from his apartment 5 times an hour to work on his car or his weekly garage sale of stuff he'd find in the alley. They lived in our building a total of 31 years. With rent control, they probably paid $400 a month for a 1 bedroom in a prime area of Santa Monica.

Jimmy and Sue would work the carnival when it was in town (St. Monica's and St. Anne's have a carnival every year) and sometimes drove far to work it for extra cash. They collected disability checks.

Sue had all her teeth removed about 5 years ago. I'd see her sometimes pan-handling out in front of the Post Office on Wilshire Blvd. The first week we moved in she came to my door asking for food and money. I knew I had to establish boundries from the get go and said "no". She never asked again. She had the maturity of a 12 year old, a good heart and never wore a bra. Her uniform was leggings and an oversized t-shirt with a cuddly animal pic on it. She loved hand-held video games and stuffed animals. And had for years been talking about taking my daughter to Universal Studios. That was never going to happen, but I was never going to say that - volleyball tournaments always messed up that plan ;)

Jimmy stopped during his hair black about 6 years ago. It was long and grey. He mostly wore jeans a t-shirt, leather jacket and boots. Occasionally, he'd wear short shorts from the 70's and let his very unfit physique hang out. You tried to avert your eyes, but it was like a train wreck and you always looked and then regretted it.

They used to complain about my daughter making too much noise. I always told them that I'd get her to stop dancing in her room when they stopped smoking. That usually shut them up for a bit. They mellowed over the years. Jimmy grew more and more gleeful when talking about moving back home. Santa Monica wasn't a good fit for them. He'd catch me getting in my car and would go on about how he fixed something or other on his car to be able to make that trek across country or that he was waiting for the next check or ...

I gave them a photo of us ... they asked me for it. An end to an era. It is truly amazing how nice it is not to wake to yelling and cussing and the tv blaring at all hours ... even if it was muffled by the floor.

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