Friday, December 07, 2007

tinned sardines

Sometimes I forget how odd we humans can be. I fail to see the strangeness of a situation, because it has become so familiar.

Last night I was washing my face in the bathroom when I heard beside me a low, restrained cough. It wasn't an intruder. It was our neighbour Keith, whose master bedroom is a mere four metres from our bathroom.

All at once, I felt the sheer ridiculousness of urban living wash over me. I felt almost sheepish, thinking about my home. It struck me as fantastically bizarre that, with all the space on Earth, I have chosen to live in a wooden box, next to hundreds of other wooden boxes, in the middle of a veritable ocean of wooden and brick boxes. I live so close to the nearest house that I can hear my neighbour cough quietly in his bed. It's ludicrous.

I understand why, from a practical point of view, we humans have tended to congregate together. Now that we no longer till the soil and raise livestock to be self-sustaining, most of us need to live near other humans for employment. And with people grouped together comes the infrastructure we have come to rely on, such as roads, power and water. In cities and towns we find schools, law enforcement, welfare agencies, hospitals and many other important services. I also know that to own more than a standard block of land in the city costs a great deal - both in purchase price, and in annual rates. The larger city blocks have steadily been subdivided, until we are all living on tiny pieces of land, our houses teetering precariously close to each other. We live our lives scrunched closely together, witnessing each others' lives whether we like it or not.

I actually don't mind living near other people. I find people generally quite interesting, and I like our neighbours. I love living four streets away from my dear friend Belly. It's good to be close to shops and schools. And when I want some open space, I can retreat to Mum's sweeping acres of countryside.

I still find it strange to consider the closeness of city dwelling. Last night I could have piped up and offered Keith a cough lozenge.

I reckon I could have even chucked it in through his window.

N.B. - I suspect 'chucked' may be an Australian slang word, so for those non-Aussies - 'chucked' as we use it here means thrown or threw. For example:

"I got chucked out of class"


"I am going to chuck it all in and run off with my gym instructor"


"She got drunk and chucked up in the taxi"

OR (my personal favourite)

"If someone doesn't help me with this soon, I'm going to chuck a wobbly!!" (translation here - throw a tantrum)

As you can see, 'chuck' is a versatile and descriptive word. Try to use it at least once today!



freefalling said...

That's very funny!!
How would you be living in a terrace house? (we do)
Actually, it's not that bad - I think it is triple brick between us, so we never hear our neighbours unless we are outside.
It's very strange - normally, I am very claustrophobic but I find living in a city very comforting. It is like you can disappear into nothingness. It's kinda like you are in the middle of the bush - in the middle of nowhere.
Very different from a country town where everytime you step outside the door - you are known and nothing is private. But, of course , that has it's benefits too.

I'd just be a little bit worried if I was you, of other noises you may hear coming from that bedroom!!!

mackeydoodle said...

I have used the word "chuck" as in " I chucked it out the window" but chuck a wobbly??!!
I can't tell you what things that makes me think of:P

Remiman said...

I "chucked" city living in favor of the countryside and more space.
I like people too, but for me a little space makes me like them more. ;)
When we lived in NYC we never met our next wall neighbors, but one night they phoned us to tell us that some of our roudy friends were at our door. So I "chucked a word of thanks through the wall. And still never met them face to face.
I like your mum's place!
p.s. After spending two weeks with two seven year old girls i share your feelings about the sheer wonderment of their acute and brilliant minds. Besides that, they're adorable girls.

Susan said...

When we were first married, we 'enjoyed' living in an apartment, 'enjoyed' the music blaring from the downstairs neighbor, 'enjoyed' the romantic sounds from the upstairs neighbors. I can't say I miss it at all. We chucked it all and moved to the country.

Thanks for the examples of Australian slang! It does make me wonder though, are these from your memory? Did you really get chucked out of class, do you want to chuck it all in and run off with your gym instructor, did you get drunk and chucked up in the taxi...

Which reminds me of another Australian slang you used on a comment on my blog a couple of weeks ago, calling me 'cheeky' - so what exactly does that mean?

Have a great weekend, go visit your neighbor with chicken soup, enjoy your urban life!

meggie said...

Hi there Jelly, Just chucking you a big bunch of cyber yellow roses for making me smile!
Love your posts!

Sheri said...

Chuck is a slang term my boys use a lot.Who knows where they picked it up.They are military brats growing up in several states and three different countries.

Sandy said...

It has taken me 13 years to get used to having neighbors that are close enough to chuck paper airplanes through their open windows. I can't say that I like it, but this is where Jimmy lives and if I'm going to live with him then I have to get used to it.

I lived most of my life in the middle of a 20 acre forest where I could ramble and hike at my hearts content without ever seeing anyone but my dog. I worked 3 miles away in the city. I miss it, but I'm getting used to the closeness of my neighbors, sometimes.

I think I've used the expression a time or two..."I'm going to chuck it all and never look back."

Puss-in-Boots said...

Well, Jelly, I chucked in city living nearly three years ago and moved onto acreage...and I love it. I hate having and hearing other people so close to me...I feel uncomfortable making any sort of noise at all.

So...I'm weird because I love going up to the little shopping centre and people know who I am. But...they don't live jammed up next to me, there's my difference.

thisisme said...

oh Jelly, what perfect timing on this post. This morning I picked up the phone next to my bed to answer it when next doors phone was ringing. I've been known to put off getting out of bed because I thought my brother was in the shower but it was next door. We are both freestanding houses, but the gap isn't that big.

Oh, and I love the word chuck - I already use it at least once a day :)

TUFFENUF said...

Ha! We know what it meant, but we say "up chucked" for throwing up! I will be using "chuck a wobbly" - I like it!

shellyC said...

Funny!! I have issues being too close to hear my neighbours!! You live too close for my comfort!
Mind you, I don't live on a ranch and have used our proximity to our neighbours to my advantage - I can listen from my ensuite to conversations on their front step. Interesting when they are talking to the police that you have called!!
I didn't liek apartment living in Switzerland where I would shut the windows before yelling at my kids!!!!!!
"Oh Mummy is closing the!!!"

Alipurr said...

"If someone doesn't help me with this soon, I'm going to chuck a wobbly!!"

LOL, i love this one...& might start practicing it, maybe i will start a trend here in western KY, ha ha