We live on the ground floor of a classic Brooklyn brownstone. Above us lives an active family of five, or eight if you are counting pets. And I know both that they are active and how many pets they have because we can hear them over our heads.

This is actually something I love about our apartment. I think it comes from growing up in an older house with wood floors—I would always know if someone were up early or going to bed late because the creaking floorboards of my house made democratic announcements about everyone’s activities. While it was much harder to sneak in or out as a teenager (though this was not the deterrent for my brother that it was for me), it became a sort of unnoticed background music that contextualized our daily family life.

In my current house, or apartment rather, I feel just as fond of the overhead symphony as I did in my childhood home. But the floorboards in this house have their own distinct sound effects. When someone walks over a few certain spots, it sounds like the first bite of a burnt marshmallow when the toasted, fire-exposed sugar scales yield to your teeth releasing a torrent of steam and exposing the raw treat underneath. Except louder. Boyfriend thinks that it means the house will come down around our ears. I think it’s just the house humming along to the activities of its occupants.

(Photograph by Cindy Shaw.)

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