The downstairs screamer is visiting again. She's been just talking loudly tonight. But I have been getting some cleaning done and when I burned my hand (not seriously it's not even red anymore), I screamed out "FUCK YOU!" way too loudly, considering the water was unlikely to react to my the tone of my voice.
From downstairs, I heard her say "See, everyone in this house screams sometimes."
To which I shouted back "I am not a good role model!"
It's the first time I've heard laughter coming from down there.
My Gay Roommate: “I was surprised. Every place in Provincetown carried Moxie.”
Me: “How are you surprised that a town full of people who voluntarily put their tongues in men’s buttholes think Moxie tastes good?”
Roommate: What’s half of forever?
RM: Don’t you mean twomaybe?
Me: No. That’s a quarter of it. Two is half of four, and maybe is half of ever.
When the Chinese restaurant under Asterisk's apartment started letting their trash pile up onto his fire escape, and blasted Chinese pop after they closed at 2 AM, Asterisk decided it was time for war. He made an offhanded joke to Ben that he was going to start posting missing cat posters throughout the neighborhood, forgetting that Ben had both copious free time, and access to an industrial printer. The next day, every lamp post, telephone pole, and wall of an abandoned building was littered with flyers for Snuffy, Shadow, Anabelle, Mr. Whiskers, Grape, Francis, Hamlin, and dozens of other fictionally missing felines. All with some variation of "last seen in the vicinity of Jade Panda" , many rife with misspellings, backwards lettered children's scrawl, and wet with fake tears. It was truly a work of genius. Wait. No. It was truly a work of racist. A genius plan would have actually solved the problems of the lingering trash and loud crimes against music. The posters didn't help with either of those things.When I use ironic racism, I try to stay far away from actual racist stereotypes. I may lament how those fucken Hawaiians drive me insane with all their fucken bowling tournaments, or how I'm tired of the waking up on Tuesday mornings to find a Navajo on my front porch trying to convert me to Shamanism.
So it is with great shame that I must include the elements of cats and Asians in yet another story, but the two things just seem to keep showing up to the same parties in my life, doing little dances, and then wandering off alone.
#3 exuded theater major in most of the common ways: flair for the dramatic, intense eyes, and the creepy smiling as a defense mechanism that so many actors seem to adopt. He was, however, missing one of the most crucial properties of a theater major: he seemed employable.
Months later I discovered that, while at no time was #3 not in a play, he was also, at no time, a theater major. "Bitch, please. Do I look like a theater major?" Again, yes, he did. "I am a psych major."
"Pfffffffft." I replied. "Theater majors at least have a little bit of fun getting their useless degrees. Psych majors all end up bitter Starbuck's baristas wishing they'd majored in something more useful like theater or competitive Bocce Ball."
He shot me a Theater Major look.
Our first date was on my birthday. Which happened to also be my anniversary with Sora. Which, on the list of my great ideas, was probably not in the top ten.
After a delicious meal of Vegan Chinese food, we walked back to my house, and each had a piece of my birthday cake that my roommate, Koko, had made for me.
"What do you think?" She asked.
"Wellllllllllll, it's ok, but I'm more of a Red Velvet guy." Pause. "I'm joking. It's delicious."
All three of the people I had started dating so far were way gayer than I'd imagined. In fact, after our successfully chaste first date, I called #3 to schedule a second date. "Helllllloooooo?"
"Hey #3." I had been very up front with the numbers that they were, in fact, being labeled as numbers. "What are you up to?"
"Ohhhhhhhhhh, you know, I" and then there was commotion.
"Yo, Stone." said an unfortunately familiar voice. Goldschlager.
Goldschlager was a poet I knew from The Cantab. He had a long, hyphenated name, but had earned the nickname Goldschlager when he'd showed up at my house with a bottle of that glittery monstrosity that calls itself alcohol, as well as a date. He had brought a date to the writers' group I held at my house, and then had the nerve to be surprised when she broke up with him.
"I knew it!" He said.
"I knew you were dating Dallas. He said he went out for Chinese food with a poet, and I knew it was either you or Ben. I also know you have a thing for tiny Asians."
I dredged my brain for the logic in that statement. While I had certainly dated Bacchus since I'd met Goldschlager, I was pretty certain the two had never met. "What are you talking about, Schlag?"
"Ummmmmm." Not many people can make the letter m sound as nasally as Schlag could. It was a gift. One he should probably return to whoever gave it to him. "Well. Sora."
My brain exploded. "Sora is Puerto Rican, not Asian. He's also 5'8"."
"Right. Puerto Rican is a type of Asian."
The fuck? "No, asshole, Puerto Rico is in the opposite hemisphere from Asia, across both axes."
And in the background I heard #3 say "Sorry, Adam." It was very melodic.
Once Schlag gave #3 his phone back, he invited me to Guerrilla Queer Bar, a weekly event where a bunch of gays crashed an unsuspecting bar and turned it into their night.
Neither #3 nor I were especially amped about being completely surrounded by other gay and bi people, but we both agreed we needed more gay friends who weren't people we'd had awkward sex with, so we made it a date. 8:00 on a Friday night.
I got home from work at 6:30, took a quick shower, and headed into my room. Once dressed, I filled the cat bowl, and tapped it with my finger. Motherfucker came running to the bowl. Selina did not. I clucked my tongue in the universal Come Here Cat manner, which always caused her to either run to me or from me. Neither thing happened.
"Selina?" I called.
"Where the fuck is Sel---" the top half of my bedroom window was open. God DAMN it.
I called #3. "Hi. I might be a little late. My cat has gone AWOL."
"Reeeeeeally?" He sighed. "That's ok. I have a couple of friends who are going. We'll just....entertain each other until you find your cat."
I spent the next hour walking up and down my street calling Selina's name. I was relieved that, at least, it was her that ran away, and not Motherfucker.
At 8:30 my phone rang. It was #2. "Hi!" he said. "What are you up to tonight?"
"My cat ran away." I said. "And I can't find her anywhere. I keep calling her name, and thinking I see her, but it's always some stray cat taunting me. And there's all this caterwauling, and I had Selina fixed, but she's so slutty, and so cattractive that I know the longer she's out here, the more pregnant she's going to get."
"Oh, God!" He said. "I'm coming over right now!"
So, while #3 sat in a bar with a bunch of sparkly shirted flirters, #2 and I walked up and down my neighborhood, through people's back yards, searching for my slutty, lost cat. God DAMN it.
At 9:15, I called #3 and told him there was no way I was going to make it.
"You look really stressed!" #2 said. "It's cute how attached you are to your cat!"
The truth of the matter was, I was mostly stressed because I was missing my date with #3. I liked #2, he was cute, eccentrically fun, but there was no long term potential there. Apart from the sex, the only thing we had in common was that we both enjoyed reading and writing poetry. Sadly, there were centuries between the poetry we wrote and enjoyed. #3 was more than just a cute guy I wanted to fuck. He had...something. That stupid intangible something.
Maybe it was just that he was the first guy I'd gone on a date with in three years that I hadn't put my penis in the first night we'd met. Maybe it was his smile. Maybe it was the melodic sound of his voice.
"You owe me big time." He said, during the 9:15 phone call. "I am. Not pleased."
I sighed as I hung up the phone. Across the street, #2 was shining a flashlight in the neighbor's hedges, softly calling Selina's name.
An hour later, we were in The Slut Across The Street's back yard when he #2 said "Oh my god! Oh my GOD!"
"You found her?" I asked. I wasn't hopeful, we'd had a series of false alarms. There appeared to be more stray cats in my neighborhood then there were houses.
"No!" He said. "But I just realized this is your fortune!"
"The cat in a broken airplane! Your terrible journey! It even involves a cat!"
It was too dark for him to notice that I was rolling my eyes. "Right. Look, I'm kind of tired, and thinking of just putting some food out on the porch, and sleeping. That way I can get up early, and look for her when it's light out."
"Oh! That's a good idea! Want me to stay over, so I can help you look tomorrow?"
And he looked at me with the most hopeful eyes. Nothing sexual, an honest I Want To Help You More stare.
"That'd be great." I said.
I made him some tea, and poured myself a Cherry Coke. In my room, we talked about his insane roommate.
"Yesterday, after you left, he started shouting at me because you stayed over!"
"I'm sorry." I said. "I didn't mean to cause drama.
"It's not you!" He said. "I pay rent, I can bring over whoever I want to! But last night, he decided he loves me!"
"I know! I locked myself in the bathroom when I got tired of talking to him, and he knocked the door down!"
I put my arms around him. "Jesus."
"I know he doesn't actually love me! He's totally in love with this other guy! When he came home last night, he had just finished getting fucked by the other guy! He is SO fucked up!"
"You need to get out of that apartment."
"I know! I know! There's this guy in Philadelphia who thinks he's totally in love with me! He bought me a violin last week! He's creepily possessive, though! But sweet! I think, if things don't get better by the end of the summer, I'm going to move down with him!"
"But," I asked, "do you really want to move down to a city you've never been to in order to spend time with some creepily possessive guy you don't even know? One who thinks he can buy you with gifts?"
"Oh! I think it's a terrible idea! But I cut up an apple last night, and it revealed that I would soon be taking my own journey! That it would be hard, and filled with awfulness!"
"Yikes." I said. "So, I'm going to throw it out there that you probably shouldn't go."
"But I have to!" He replied. "The apple said I'm going!"
I let him go, and looked at him. Really, looked at him for the first time. At the end of my first date with #1, I'd been shocked to discover that he was a Drag Queen, and then sat back and thought about it, and realized I really shouldn't have been shocked. I was having the same experience with #2 now, only instead of realizing he was a drag queen, I was realizing he was out of his fucken mind.
"You think I'm crazy! Don't you?" He asked.
And I thought about the the split apple, the many dying plants in his basement apartment, the tea leaves at the bottom of my cup. A cat in a broken airplane.
"You will soon go on an adventure!" He had told me on our first date. "That's the airplane.! But see how it's split in the middle?" I did. "That means it's going to be a sad journey!"
"Ok." I said. "What does the cat mean?"
"The cat is a sign of deceit! Your journey is going to be littered with lies!"
At the time, I thought that maybe, instead of reading my future, he had read my past. That the tea leaves represented my life with Sora.
Tonight, #2 had decided that the cat was not a metaphor for deceit, but actually Selina. "Which is great!" He said. "That means I was wrong about the lies!"
And now here we were in my bed, him looking at me with that stupid, hopeful expression. "You do! Don't you?" He asked. "You think I'm crazy!"
And I looked him straight in his gorgeous eyes, and said "No."
July 2006: He crashes a car again and again into a van. Low speeds. No injuries. Slight damage. He has no insurance. Back at the house, a kiss, an argument, his body, a slammed door.
August 2006: A vacation. A lie about his father's health.
January 2007: He picks up the belongings he left behind. A kiss on the forehead. Never coming back.
April 2007: An apology. His body. A war with a horrid roommate. His body, loud.
October 2008: Sora calls with the same as usual story. His father and he blah blah blah fight and out of the house and what to do. I offer him a chance to stay with me, no strings, no implied relationship. He does not take it.
After a couple of months of me offering over and over a place, he comes up to visit. I ask my roommates if they mind if Sora stays with us. As long as he helps pay some bills, they don't mind.
Just before he moves up, I offer to do deliveries for the company I work for while the usual driver was on vacation. The usual driver never comes back from that vacation. And so, for the winter of 2009, I spend a few days a week driving a giant maroon van with a cartoon on the side. I drive blocks out of my way to avoid playgrounds and schools.
I am working while he moves up. He calls to let me know there is a party going on across the street, and that I should come.
"A party?" Manny says. "So there."
So Manny and Jim hop in the back of my cartoony van, and we drive to the party across the street from my house. We are barely parked when someone is bouncing drunkily toward the van, befreckled of smile and hugs. And it is not Sora.
"Hi!" The Slut Across The Street swoons. "Who is Sora?"
Here's how it ends: Over a table mugged up for beer pong, The Slut Across The Street asks me if Sora and I are dating. We aren't. We are most specifically not dating to the point where I even said that just because he needed to live with me, didn't mean he was beholden to a relationship with me. But we are sleeping together. And he does kiss me before I leave for work. And while it wouldn't kill me if he dated someone else, it would deeply wound me if he chose this drunk, worthless slut over me. So I lie. "Yes. He's my boyfriend. Don't."
Here's how it ends: Sora and I head back home together and make out. But he has left his iPod in his car, and goes out to get it. The Slut Across The Street intercepts him with his face. His fucken tongue. His bloodshot eyes.
Here's how it ends: For once, Sora is honest. He tells me about the kiss, prepared for my anger. Is surprised when I say "Look, the guy's a total slutbag. You're hot. He kissed you. Are you going to start dating him?"
"No. I don't even really like him."
"Then we're fine." Right?
Here's how it ends: I still love him. I know he spends time with The Slut Across The Street when I'm at work. I know something is happening. I don't like it, but it's not how we are supposed to end. So I try and pretend everything is fine. And it would be except there's another party across the street and no one invites me. I call Sora, and when he does not pick up, I call one of my roommates. And there is planned karaoking, but Sora doesn't want to go and The Slut Across The Street doesn't want to go, so they come to the house, and everyone else leaves. We play Mario Kart, and The Slut keeps looking at me with more desire than guilt.
I am not drinking. His face is a plaster bust of plaster. Sora is prickly at both of us.
It is the next day when my roommate tells me that eveyone went to karaoke because The Slut Across The Street told everyone that me, him, and Sora were going to have a threesome.
Here's how it ends: An ultimatum. "Sora. Please. You don't owe me anything" but money "but not him. It's making things....difficult."
My roommate is friends with The Slut Across The Street, but he doesn't like his ethics. Doesn't like the potential drama always brewing in his always beered up brain. "It needs to stop."
Here's how it ends: My roommate gets him a job so he can contribute to bills. He spends his money on I don't know but not me or bills.
"Adam, it needs to stop. You need to talk to him."
Here's how it ends: We talk. Via Instant Messanger. I come up with an arrangement. A terrible terrible arrangement. Our relationship will be purely sexual. He can fall in love with whoever he wants, safely fuck whoever he wants, but as long as he lives with me....
"Your life." JBoB says, when I explain the arrangement to him, "is not real. Relationships like that don't happen. They don't work. They destroy everything."
But it's so much worse than that.
Here's how it ends: Sora comes home from work and says the arrangement is fine.
But I couldn't really treat a stranger like this for sex. Certainly not him.
Here's how it ends: A drifting. Sora passing out on the couch.
One night he insists on playing a video game to the end. And when the credits roll he starts calling out for his mother and then blacks out.
Here's how it ends: Slumped over my shoulder for the third night in a row. I carry him to a bed we share nonsexually. I can't keep doing this. I can't keep doing this.
"He can't keep doing this." My roommate says. "He just sits at home all day when he doesn't work, playing video games on my TV. He doesn't pay any bills. He just...It's not that I don't like him. He's a good kid." kid kid kid kid kid kid kid "I just don't know how much longer I can put up with him."
Here's how it ends: My roommates throw a fake prom at a local bar. The Slut's favorite bar. And we all go. And we're all excruciatingly nice to each other. But it's actual niceness. We all appear to be okay. And there is dancing. And Sora is drunk, but not horribly so. And he says something funny, and I lean in and kiss him. And I say "I love you."
And he says. "I know."
Here's how it ends: In the living room. We are talking about whether or not we're in a relationship. I make some throwaway joke about how he moved out of our last apartment while I was in Texas to take care of his father.
And he finally says it. "My father never had a heart attack."
"I know. I've always known."
"I just didn't love you. I don't love you."
Here's how it ends. A fucken cliche. I am for the first time I can remember crying, actually crying. In the shower so no one will hear me. This is entirely my everything fault. I told him I wouldn't do this. I told him we'd be fine as just friends. Why do we keep lying to each other?
Here's how it ends. A party at our house. Everyone from our house and the house across the street except the slut. A cook out. Beer pong. Promise of dinner and karaoke. When no one invites me, I invite myself.
Sora follows me into the house when I go to get changed. "Adam, we shouldn't go." He says. "This is a bad idea. Let's just stay home. You and me."
The Slut will be there. So my roommates don't want me there. They are afraid of drama. Which hightens the drama, because I no longer worry about Sora and The Slut, but I worry that The Slut and Sora's non-relationship is hurting my living situation, my friendship with all the people we mutually know.
Here's how it ends: We go out to dinner. And when I announce I am going, several people decide not to go. It is me, Sora, one roommate, one of the guys who lives upstairs, and his girlfriend, who lives with The Slut. We are to meet The Slut for Mexican food, and then go to karaoke.
The Slut is there before we are. He is smoking and not very much talking, so Sora goes gattling tongue. "Mexican food poop is the worst." kid kid kid kid kid kid kid "....poop....poop...."
My roommate laughs uncomfortably. "You know, every time we end up going out you always end up talking shit. It's like you do actually know shit, but nothing else."
Here's how it ends: I left my wallet in my other pants when I got changed, and I need to go back and get it. I tell everyone not to wait up. I'll be back. And I run full-intentioned back home to find my other roommate crying.
"It's over." She says. "He doesn't love me."
And we hug, and we talk, and we play Mario Kart, and I call Sora to tell him I won't be back. And she calls my roommate, to tell him we're not going to meet them there. And we laugh a lot. And things are okay.
Here's how it ends: Things are not ok. The couple fights. Sora and The Slut flirt enough that my roommate decides the night is over, and everyone should go home. So they walk home.
He arrives first. He sits down at the kitchen table and says "Everyone else is about five minutes behind me. Look. Adam. He's got to go. This was a nice drama free house before he got here and now....He's a nice" don't say it "guy" thank you "but I hate all of them right now, and I need a break. And I can't break from him if he's living in the same house with me."
Which is reasonable. And he lived here first. He invited me into this apartment. "Okay."
"It doesn't have to be now. Or tomorrow. Or in a week. Just...he needs to start working on a plan out of here." And my roommate takes out a knife and stabs back and forth between his splayed out fingers. "I'm sorry."
"No." I say. "It's okay."
"We'll all be single!" My just dumped roommate says. And we laugh. And we laugh our way through a full hour with no Sora and no couple and no Slut.
After two hours, the others go to bed.
After three, I am looking out the window, and watching The Slut's house. The guy upstairs and The Slut's roommate, walk across the street and upstairs to his apartment.
"Was Sora with you?" I ask.
Which is worse than a yes.
Here's how it ends: Hour four I pack his belongings under the guise of cleaning the room. I am not kicking him out, I'm just....organizing.
"Hi." says Sora. He is all smiles and drink. "You're cleaning your room!" There is no y in our. "That's...." and the smile fades."that's a box full of my stuff."
Here's how it ends: He won't stay. Not another night. Not another minute. "It's embarrassing." He says. "But I get it. I definitely get it." And he starts carrying boxes out to his car.
"Don't leave." please don't leave please don't leave "I am packing all our stuff while I clean."
"You want me to go."
No. "Eventually. But not tonight."
"We didn't even do anything."
"It's not...look. My roommate got you a job, hoping you'd contribute money to the house, and you haven't paid us a cent. You're always drunk."
"What's so funny?" I ask. Also laughing. Though I don't know why.
"The last time we lived together it was all lies. I lied about my feelings, about my father, about everything. And this time...I like you. I don't love you, but I really like you, so I tried to be honest. But it's the same thing. We just don't...we just don't."
Here's how it ends: We are standing apart on the porch. We are both smiling. "Promise me something."
"When you write about this. Let it end with the word pathetic. Because that's what we are. That's what I am. Pathetic."
"No. No you're not. And we're not. I'm sorry it's over." It's actually, I'm pretty sure over. "But it's not...I'm not sorry we met. I wouldn't give up knowing you. I l...I'm glad for the fun times."
"Pathetic." He says.
But I mean it. I would erase Ryan if I could. I never liked Elvis. David I could go either way with. I wouldn't rid my world of Ben, but I don't even understand how I used to be attracted to him. Everyone inbetween felt like filler. But Sora. I don't think I will ever be able to say I loved Sora. Because I don't think I will ever be out of love with him. I don't always like him very much. I kind of hate what the lies put us through, but you can't really have hate without love. An enormous weight of fucken love. Even if what we had wasn't noble, the fact that we kept trying was. I don't think that or him was a mistake. I will move on. I will find someone else. I will be happy. And I hope he will be too. And I think that's enough. I think we were worth it.
After a year of only being slightly chatty, Selina Ribcage has upped the caterwauling quotient. I thought it might be because her March Madness brackets are now completely worthless, but Carolyn thinks differently.
"Stop yelling at her." Carolyn said. "She's just very sensitive. She meows all the time to remind us of the senseless genocide in Rwanda. She wanders the house educating us. Silencing her is just wrong."
And the kitchen got very quiet.
"Shit." She said. "Now I'm going to get depressed every time she meows."
And, at the sound of her favorite word, Selina said "Mrrrrrrrrrreow?"
And, Carolyn stared down at her. "Shut up."
Everything splinters over a time. Sometimes it's a gradual shaving, and sometimes an explosion. Whether beautiful or troubling usually depends on where the splinters land. A kaleidoscope of colored wood on the floor being much preferable to a single blade of tarnish lodged in the plantar.
When I was living with Celeste, Sora, and Sir Trick in Mission Hill, our front door was the only door in the house that wasn't splintering. It was solid and brown, while the rest of the doors flaked paint on the floor, and wore at the hinges.
Divine moved in in September. And the other doors continued their slow wither, and the front door continued to be, well, a door.
In December, Sora let me know that he was going to be in town, and he wanted to talk. And the talk was uneventful, and uninformative. He was, as always, late. I was, as always, forgiving. I bought the meal, and we parted company when he realized he was half an hour late for meeting some of his other friends.
I traveled home without incident. Opened the door to the house, which was never locked, got into the tiny lobby, and the door...the door to my apartment, solid, brown, sturdy, had been thoroughly decimated. The hinges were ripped from the wall. Huge chunks of splintered wood lay in ideograms on the floor. Each one reading something to the effect of "theft", "loss of trust", and "holy shit".
I plodded to my room, because the house was empty, and what good would running do? Everything appeared to be in order. Nothing ruffled through, nothing missing.
I went into Divine's room. Everything appeared to be in order.
Nothing missing in the kitchen, the empty bedroom (though they could have easily taken nothing from nothing and I wouldn't have known), the bathroom, or the pantry.
I called Divine who asked me, right away, if there was a Raspberry Records bag on top her TV. There was not. "Oh no!" (S)He said. "That's where I'd put the rent you gave me."
(S)He stole my money and broke down our door to make it look like a theft. (S)He then used my money to pay the rent to the Landlord and make me look like a rube for not having it. I wasn't sure of it at the time, but after another four monthe of h(im)(er) not paying any bills, my trust was was splintered into ideograms which read "(S)He is a fucken thief who would concoct any story necessary to keep h(er)(is) drug habit going."
A year and a half later, I'm sitting on a couch in a different apartment with Bacchus, surrounded by my roommates, watching The Roast Of Bob Saget when someone starts pounding at the door. I imagine it exploding inwards, so I rush to it, and open the door, and...and it's Asterisk. He's tanked, as per usual, "What's up motherfuckers? I was coming down the street and saw your lights on and OH MY GOD, IS THAT CLORIS LEACHMAN?"
It was. And Asterisk gracefully stumbled over to the couch (he's had a lot of practice stumbling, he's very good at it), and sat to my left. A befuddled Bacchus sat on my right, leaning into me whenever Cloris said something hilarious. And every time she said something scathing, Asterisk dug into my left leg with his right hand. And so it was that her humor was bruised into me for days.
Asterisk left at the end of the roast, and Bacchus and I surrendered to my room. "Asterisk was very..."
"...drunk?" I offered.
"touchy with you."
While he was, surprisingly, hands on "There wasn't anything romantic or sexual about it. Asterisk and I have never been and will never be anything more than friends."
And I reached my arms around him and "Not tonight." He said.
And this is where my memory splinters.
I remembered the restaurant correctly. A Japanese place with excellent soup. I remembered him seeming more awkward about halfway through the meal. I remembered a guy sitting at another table recognizing him, walking over to our table and saying he was surprised to see him there. "I thought you only came here to break up with people. " Then turning to me, and saying, " I'm sorry, I hope you two aren't here on a date."
And I saw any future we had, tearing at the hinges.
What I remember is him growing distant. I remember him saying he wasn't all that interested in me as anything more than a friend, and me saying "I already have friends." or something snarky that devalued our relationship for no good reason other than I wanted to hurt back.
But, after a few months of not seeing him, I ran into him in Cambridge, and he invited me back to his apartment to watch The Bourne Supremacy (which wasn't about Cape Cod at all), and when it was over, and he invited me to stay over, I asked why he hadn't wanted more out of her relationship.
And he tried to give me a funny look, but failed. He only looked hurt. "You broke up with me." He said.
I didn't want to argue, so we talked about other people we were seeing, and I stayed the night, but nothing happened.
Back at my new home in Brighton, I checked my old e-mail and instant messanger conversations, and sure enough, I'd asked him if we were going to continue just fooling around, or whether we had a future as a couple. And he had said he needed some time to think about it. And I'd told him that wasn't good enough.
It should have been good enough.
The first time my parents came to visit me at Torpor Heights boarding school, my dorm adviser told my parents that I had the sort of personality that adjusted well to change. "Everything that happen. It is like nothing to him. Is just. Day." And, broken English aside, she wasn't wrong.
Wherever I wake up is where I am, and there's nothing that can be done about it. Oh, I can make sure I'm somewhere else in a few minutes, an hour, a day or so. But that's the future. The present is completely beyond your control. It's like the past, but harder to ignore.
In my current present, I'm sitting in front of a fan in the living room of The Yoda Louise Vader Memorial Cafegymtorium, which is the name I've given to the house I've been living in for the last year and a half. Tomorrow,.I work in both the comic book store, and at the bar. Thursday, I interview potential new roommates: a pair of friends from Mission Hill, a poetry reviewer (no shit) who already lives in this neighborhood, a "free-spirited artist", and a 21 year old gay kid on disability for psychological problems. The last one is just like Sora, but with an income.
Any potential roommate has a lot to live up to. My most recently previoused roommates: Don, and Ms. Gibbons were roommates you're just going to have to read about to believe. Not only were all our bills paid on time but we never had any epic battles over dishes or thermostats, and Ms. Gibbons didn't even steal my TV on the way out like that awful Thai tranny drug addict, Divine, that I lived with on Mission Hill.
"Frankly," Bacchus said, as he sprawled across my chest, "I don't know how you can trust trannies anymore."
I wrinkled my eyebrows at him. "It wasn't the trannie part of him that stole my TV. It was the drug addict. Or possibly the Asian part."
It was Bacchus's turn to shoot a funny look. Unfortunately, he was not gifted with the proper genetics for facial grammar. "Then I guess you'd better keep an eye on me when I go home tomorrow."
Bacchus was the man of the moment. It was the summer of 2008. I was living in Somerville, and had spent the winter dating and then not dating and then dating and not dating Sora, among other people. Spring had much the same feel to it. And I spent July preparing for August, where I drove to Madison with Mazarine and did some poetry things, and some insafemodey things. And when I came home, I found an e-mail reply to a hardly used personal ad that sounded promising.
Like all solid relationships, ours began when Bacchus pulled his car into my driveway at 2:30 in the morning. We talked, made out, and tried, unsuccessfully to reproduce. But we had enough fun that we tried it again a couple of times for good measure.
This ritual went on for a couple of weeks. And while we confined our recreational activities to my bedroom, we often cuddled on the couch in the living room, watching American Gladiators with my roommates or just hanging out by ourselves watching the shadows charcoal the wall.
"I like him." The least combative of my roommates, Byrne, said. "He's a refreshing change of pace from Sora."
"How so?" I asked.
"I dunno. I guess it's just nice that you're dating the God Of Wine now, as opposed to the God of Whine."
The following night was the premiere of The Comedy Central Roast Of Bob Saget. The entire household: me, Mike, Byrne, and the other roommate were all going to watch it together. I invited Bacchus to join us, and about ten minutes before the show was about to start, I saw his car pull into the driveway. I tried to hide my goofy grin when the front doorbell rang. "The back door is open." I said. "I don't know why--" and I opened the door to see a Chinese man holding a paper bag. I had been hoping to see a Vietnamese man holding a bottle of vodka. "Huh." I said. "Wrong Asian."
Bacchus was in the kitchen, and he was trying his damnedest to give me a dirty look but his face was refusing to cooperate.
Byrne paid the Chinese guy n the front porch for his bag of fried food, and we all sat down for the comedy stylings of Jeff Ross, Greg Giraldo, John Stamos, Gilbert Gottfreid, and Norm Macdonald. During one of the commercial breaks, Byrne excused himself to go to the bathroom when a series of explosions went off in front of our front door.
"HEEEEEEEEEEY!!!! HEY YOU FUCKEN FUCKERS!!! OPEN THE FUCKEN DOOR!!!!" Then the crash of fists being drunk driven into our front door. "OPEN UP!!!"
The room froze. Bacchus sat up with a face that nearly expressed concern. Byrne appeared in the hallway, staring at the door. Mike let out a "What the fuck?" And I, because the moment was now, and there really wasn't anything else for me to do but be present for it, stood up, and walked over to the door.
A good Rule Of Middle Finger when applying for an apartment: If you have to use the phrase “I’m not a judgmental bitch or anything” in your opening e-mail, you are probably a judgmental bitch, and probably not going to get the apartment.
The walls of my old apartment were not at all like a beautiful woman. And neither was the woman who owned it. Knowing full well I was in Texas for a couple of weeks, she called and left me the following message: "(Safey), it (Insane Landlady Bitch). You no at house when I stop by. You unstable. You artist. I no renew lease for you. You call me."
So I dialed her number, hands shaking, ready to curse up a storm. But my phone would not connect. So I waited until I was calmer and e-mailed her a message reminding her that I was in Texas, that I had received her very rude message, and that I would look for a new apartment. I then broke the news to my new, not-shitty roommate (who was also in TX) and began searching Craigslist for apartments instead of sperm recipients.
Things looked promising. There were loads of apartments available, and many of them were affordable and close to the comic book store, where I'm now officially working.
Then I had my eventful trip home with Ben and the bus people. And I called my landlady. She did not call back. Days passed into week. I e-mailed. She failed to respond. Unfuck her.
So, my new roommate, Byrne, said he'd help look for a new apartment, and another poetry friend of mine, Mike (not a Michael, Mike) said that he and his imaginary friend were looking for an apartment. So we pooled our resources. Spent a couple of days searching through Craigslist, and then Mike found three or four apartments that we should look at.
We only made it to the first one.
How to describe the oasis of freshly laid Greek marble tiles, bamboo, stainless steel kitchen appliances, a washer and dryer without coin slots, a stunning lack of rats. There aren't enough words. Out of our price range comes to mind, but it wasn't. It was...$150 a month cheaper than where I was currently living with Divine the Nowhere Near Great and Just Plain Old Terrible. So we took it. No look at other, more expensive apartments was necessary. Though, something about the way the landlady smiled when she talked made me uneasy, Mike assured me she was a great person.
That night, while changing the trash at three a.m. an acrobatic rat did a backflip out of the trash can and hit me in the face. A sure sign I was not meant to stay. There was also a certain smell to the apartment. Mike suggested it was something dead, I noted that I hadn't seen Divine for a while. I optimistically opened the door to her room, but her corpse was not there, and neither was a great deal of her stuff. So she must have moved out. Cool, I'd alert my lawyer.
The following day, Mike, his imaginary friend and I went to sign the new lease (Byrne was working). Sure enough, when I got there there were three people in the room besides me: the new landlady, Mike, and MybuddyDex (the aforementioned imaginary friend). He seemed almost real. While we were signing, someone knocked on the door, another one of Mike's friends that I'd assumed to be imaginary (who also thought MybuddyDex was imaginary, and vice-versa). He'd just moved in down the street and was serving as a guarantor for us.
The ink on the lease was barely dry when my phone rang, it was Byrne, who'd just arrived at our old apartment. "Your Crazy Landlady is here. She's yelling something about you not calling or something."
I groaned and muttered. There was less than a day left in August. Soon she and her madness would be behind me.
"We should check out the neighborhood." Mike said.
A great idea. So we wandered over to the nearest grocery store to check it out. It was...huh. Sawdust on the floor. Hysterically laughing employees. Spam EVERYWHERE. And more types of pudding than The Geneva Convention allows for.
"Pudding!" Mike said. And we shit talked and wandered around and..."Hey, where'd MyBuddyDex go?"
We looked around and around. No sign of him.
"Fuck." I said. "You've got to concentrate harder, Mike. Everytime you lose focus one of us disappears, like the people on Michael J. Fox's photograph in Back To The Future."
We went to the checkout counter, where there was still no sign of MyBuddyDex.
"I think he's gone forever." Mike mused.
The checkout girl said "Should we page him?"
Of course we should page him. So we did "MyBuddyDex to the front of the store please, your parents are waiting for you and very worried."
"Guys." MyBuddyDex said. "I'm right here. I've been here the whole time. Why were you guys talking about me like I wasn't."
Oh, this apartment is so going to rule.
Outside, on our way back to the apartment, we caught a glimpse of a harvesty moon. "So beautiful."
"What?" Asked Mike's Other Imaginary Friend.
"The moon." Mike said.
"I can't see it."
"Why?" Mike asked. "Because you're Jewish?"
"It's true. The only drawback to being one of the Chosen People. You can't see the moon."
I cocked my head. "The Chosen People. You're a Pokemon? Guarantor, I choose you! Lease signing attack!"
To which Mike's Other (Witty) Imaginary Friend replied "Guarantor! Guarantor!"
Oh, this apartment is definitely going to rule. But first I had to go back to the old place to pack my shit for the move.
I packed for a day. Wasn't totally finished, but had a good lead on it. Byrne and I took four trips back and forth to the new apartment using his Rav4. The next day we had a van rented, and were ready to move the big furniture. We were tired after trip four and ready to sleep. I went into the kitchen and rearranged my refrigerator magnets to read Worst Landlady Bitch ever. So, of course, there was a knock on the door. Worst Fucken Landady Bitch ever.
"Hi (Safey). You look so good. Very nice. I renew yo lease. You stay, I think. Been try to call, but you no answer."
The fuck? The hallway was clearly filled with boxes, it was the last day of,...scratch that, it's now September 1st, but just barely. There was no way I was staying the fuck there.
"Sorry" you insane bitch "but I already have a new apartment. Cheaper. Nicer." And the landlady is normal.
"But, I think, you, Celeste, all you friends been living here eight years total. Always one of you. I renew lease."
"I'm not staying. Look, I've been cleaning as much of the apartment as I can, scrubbing the bathroom and everything."
"Ok." She said. "Looks very nice. Maybe I see kitchen."
Yes, kitchen where the refrigerator is, and the magn..."Uhhh, actually, I have a question..." We stood there blinking at each other. What was my question? "Shelves! There are shelves in the closet. Should I leave them? Throw them out?"
"I like shelves. I keep. Now, kitchen..."
"Oh, and my computer desk. Should I leave that?"
"I see." And so I went through every piece of furniture I didn't want one at a time, and then asked inane questions about whatever I could think of. Maybe Byrne had heard and had already rearranged the magnets. And maybe if I imagine hard enough, flowers will sprout out of my ass (though why anyone would want that to happen, I have no idea).
The stalling eventually worked, and she never made it to the kitchen. "You have one week to move out stuff. No worry bout hurry. I rhyme. I artist too." I'm sure she meant to say unstable.
The next day, after I got done with work, I met Mike and MyBuddyDex at my old apartment, we loaded furniture (including Byrne's GIGANTIC bed), and headed to the new place to unload it. Then we went back for smaller things. Byrne joined us, replacing MyBuddyDex who had to go to work. During our last packing session, Mike fell asleep on a mattress in Divine's former room.
When Byrne and I were just about done, he awoke with a scream. "Dude, there was a mouse in my ear."
"I woke up and a mouse was nuzzling my ear. I've got to get out of here."
I knew exactly how he felt.