Here is one of my favourite quotes:
Henry James said: “Three things in life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind.”
I write this because, as I stare blearily at the screen, there is no doubt in my body or mind that I have had less than an hours sleep. This is not because I was up indulging in some all-night-long nookie (in which case I would not blog about – at most I would high-five someone) or catching up with yet another LSJ deadline. I had in fact actually put myself to bed before 11, desperate for a chance to catch up on some sleep and delighted at the opportunity to do so.
At around 1am I was woken up by the sound of my landlord and his girlfriend arriving home. As usual, she was complaining about me in some way or another. Usually her complaints are fictional. I believe today’s complaint was that I don’t sort out the mail, but how can I when I never get any?
Exhausted mentally and physically by this latest vitriolic outburst, I popped next door to ask what was wrong, hoping it could be put out in the open and sorted out.
What followed was what I can only describe as a bout of schoolyard type bullying. This forty-something woman refused to let me speak to my landlord, refused to let me speak at all and shut the door to the bedroom in my face. I then heard them talking about me, playing the TV loudly and generally behaving raucously until finally at about 4am, the noise stopped.
I’m ashamed to say, that I did not handle it well. I cried, I called my boyfriend, I called my parents, and then I cried some more. Try as I might to calm myself down, the sheer injustice of it, the unfairness, the fact that I am spending an obscene amount of money to live here, and the indignation that a forty-something couple would bully a twenty-something girl without provocation, meant that the tears just would not stop.
What would it have cost them to show a little kindness? What would it have hurt them to turn down their TV, knowing I’m a student who works every minute of most days? Why would someone,anyone, display such poison towards me, who has never done a thing to harm them?
Some people who I have told about this think that I should learn to be more thick-skinned. Perhaps they are right. But why should I change who I am? Why should I harden myself and allow myself to be shaped by people like them?
While my naivety may get me into unfortunate circumstances, with the big, round, open face of the country bumpkin that I am, I can’t stop myself from feeling things the way I do. Hopefully it makes me a better person, maybe a better writer, although of course, a terrible poker player.
I don’t know what will happen tonight. I don’t know if it will be a repeat of last night. I don’t know what I will do if it gets worse. I’ve called in the cavalry (my parents) and they will be here on Thursday to move me back to Shrewsbury for a much-needed weekend break from the city.
Until then, I am trying to keep my head held high, to bite my tongue and to be the better person. I’m also drinking lots of coffee and reading lots of Paulo Coelho – at least one of those things can be relied upon to calm me down, and both will get me through the day.
I don’t know exactly why I’m sharing this, except that writing things down has always been the way I make sense of things. It will also hopefully stand as an explanation to anyone who interacts with me today on why I look like an extra from Shaun of the Dead.
Have a good day, everyone. Be kind to people, especially those who look like they need some sleep.