There’s a motorcyclist who lives in the building next to ours. Jeff googled the legal amount of noise a motorcycle is allowed to emit, and at less than forty-five miles per hour, it’s seventy-eight decibels, maximum. That’s the sound of a jackhammer from fifty feet away. That’s the sound of a smoothly functioning vacuum cleaner at your feet. With walls between that level of road noise and us, we should barely hear it.

This guy’s motorcycle is enough to wake you up, force you to turn up the TV, or pause your conversation. It’s worse for Jeff, whose room faces the street, but the revving pushes around and through his room to shake my window pane as well. Thursday through Sunday nights, the motorcyclist and his buddies joyride outside Jeff’s window.

“Maybe they like the steep hill,” I say.

“Maybe why does he have friends?” Jeff says.

When the motorcycle drives by, I’ve taken to yelling, “I hate you!” I hear Jeff in his room yelling, “You’re being illegal!” We’re trying to start a movement in our building.


I stare at the grate. Of all the things I could stare at--old, brick buildings, the giant, ten-spout fountain, mature trees, beautiful people--I stare at this metal grid. “No dumping. Drains to waterway.” Shame colors my perspective like construction scaffolds color Humanities bright orange and gray. There are 26 bricks between the grate and my left foot, in a hopscotch pattern. I never played hopscotch. I am undeserving.

The lamp post is short in perspective with the trees and tall in perspective with the people. I try lying down on the rocky, concrete bench, try sitting up, focus on the tones of the conversations. The conversations leave with the feet that carefully avoid the grate. Some ballet flats, some sandals. They must not have shin splints and tendon pains that force them to keep their pretty shoes in canvas boxes. They must look up at each other and not at sewer grates.