I don’t “like people.” I’m not a “people person.” It has been said that I am April Ludgate in the flesh. If you didn’t watch Parks and Recreation, then perhaps you remember the part Ally Sheedy played in The Breakfast Club. It’s also been about 25 years since I’ve lived in an apartment so I forgot about the dynamics. And because of dogs and aging backs, I thought a first-floor situation made sense.
So we have this neighbor directly above us. He appears to have an outdoor job and it’s summer in Tucson so he gets up at around 4:10 to 4:15 am every morning. It literally sounds like he’s up there doing CrossFit. The floor joists squeak like he’s about to land in my lap. He’s always dropping things on the floor and slamming drawers. It’s obnoxious as hell. He finally leaves at around 5:15. One morning, my thought process included two options: I was either poking a hole in the ceiling while making my point or taking my boy for an early-morning jaunt.
Since realizing I don’t have to be chained to a cubicle in order to work, my schedule has become super manageable. I work onsite for a client for a few hours in the middle of the day. This gives me the flexibility to work with the bf on our own projects and not be dominated by the clock. I can make this ass-crack-of-dawn thing work. Trying to be positive here!
I was immediately struck by how different the neighborhood felt in the early morning hours. The air smelled different to Sherman and he showed extreme interest in objects he typically ignores. That particular morning, a convenience store about a mile down the road was taped off with officers gathering evidence in the parking lot. The red and blue lights looked so pretty in the barely pre-dawn light…not at all jarring as in full darkness. Another mile or so into our route, a fire truck and ambulance with lights on hit the sirens as soon as they exited the neighborhood.
CrossFit Neighbor’s wakeup time is just a few minutes early for my comfort zone. Like, I can see but not well enough to guide Sherman around broken glass with confidence but the temperature is glorious. June is the worst month of the year in Tucson. So even when we had a week of 117-degree highs, we could do three miles and not die. Some mornings, we were lucky enough to pass by the park and golf course just after the sprinklers ran and the wind was just right so we got that extra cool breeze.
That first morning especially, I wished I had my phone to capture the images but in this neighborhood, I don’t carry anything of value. There are increasing numbers of homeless sleeping along our route and in the park we pass by. The storm drains and washes are extremely unsafe during monsoon season so folks move to higher ground until things dry out again. One morning, we passed by a man asleep on the sidewalk. Having just been rudely awakened by CrossFit Neighbor, I tried to get by him as quietly as possible. As we came back around on our way home, he said “good morning” to Sherman. I’ll take that guy over people who make a wide arc around dogs every day of the week and twice on Tuesday.
I’ve been noticing an awful lot of real life lately. There was a woman sitting on the side of a road heading toward the Tucson Mountains with her back against a guard rail the Monday after we lost Lulu. No shoes, knees up, head in hands. For a moment, I considered stopping but my frame of mind was likely just as bad considering what had transpired the day before.
The very next morning, closer to the mountains, I glanced at a pickup parked on the shoulder with the hood up and the driver making a call. When I drove by again that afternoon, the truck was still there with its hood up but the driver was gone. The following morning, I was passed by a Pima County Sheriff Department truck with a dog kennel on the back… lights on and hauling ass. The deputy stopped behind that parked pickup with the hood up, joining another PCSD vehicle. The addition of the K9 unit made me worry the driver never reached his destination.
Similar things have undoubtedly been going on around me all along and I’ve just been blissfully oblivious. I wonder why I’m noticing them now. Has the volume increased exponentially or has my perspective changed?
That first morning, Sherman and I returned home before the sun had fully risen. CrossFit Neighbor had already left for work. Flipping the script, I was able to lie down and go back to sleep.
Thanks for the wake-up call, asshole. Hope you enjoyed your day.