It's 1:30 a.m. and I am woken by the sound of a barking dog.
In my semi-comatose state, I'm not exactly privy to what's going on around me. I curse as Heather stirs and groans when she also hears the dog's cries for attention. My first thought is "Who lets their dog outside this late at night to bark up a storm?"
At this point my brain hasn't processed the fact that we are not in our old house in Scranton.
The dog is not barking from a yard down the street. We are in our one-bedroom apartment in the greater Philadelphia area, surrounded by other apartment dwellers above, below and on either side of us.
The dog who has found the need to disturb my much-needed beauty rest is in an adjacent apartment. She is a young Golden Retriever and Labrador mix who unfortunately has a severe case of owner separation anxiety.
When her owners leave, she barks consistently until they return whether it's 15 minutes or eight hours later.
Lucky us. Why the owners have chosen to leave her alone at 1:30 a.m. on a Tuesday night is still a mystery to me. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they work the overnight shift rather than conclude they are simply inconsiderate to their neighbors. But needless to say, this isn't the first time we've suffered through the dog's yapping in the early morning hours.
I set this scene (and in turn vent some of my frustrations) for a reason: This is the first time since early college that I've had to live with others just a thin wall away. I have to learn to put up with people again, which is easier said than done.
Don't get me wrong people are great, when they're not bothering me.
Gone are the days (at least for now) where the closest neighbor was hundreds of feet away in their own home. Heather and I sacrificed that luxury when we opted for big city living, but I haven't exactly completely adjusted to the change in lifestyle yet.
We're quickly finding that the benefits of living in the city outweigh some of the adjustments we have to make. Options such as great restaurants, arts and entertainment are all at our fingertips and walkable or a short train ride away.
It's a far cry from suburban living, however, which is all I've known for much of my 28 years until recently. The adjustment process will take some time, but it will also get easier once we find the more permanent place that we've been looking for.
It's funny, because when I was a teenager and visiting New York City, I used to pine at the idea of paying an arm and a leg for a tiny studio apartment with leaky pipes and screaming neighbors. After all, they make it look so glamorous in the movies.
And I'm seeing that it really can be, but you can't go into city living thinking you're going to have the same lifestyle as suburban Pennsylvania. It's apples and oranges.
I may now sit in two hours of traffic every day coming to and from work (more on that some other month), but when I come around the corner on Interstate 76 and see the Philadelphia skyline, a certain serenity comes over me.
I'll try and focus on that serenity during my next 1:30 a.m. wakeup call.
Beardsley, a native of Loyalsock Township, was a former Sun-Gazette reporter.