This past monday, I helped a friend of mine move. The friend in question was T-Om, a local real estate mogul, with whom I've passed many an enjoyable afternoons at Starbucks in Doylestown. The move was from one building in Doylestown to the building next door. And all the heavy lifting had been done the previous weekend. Not sure what precipitated the move, but I was happy to help. I don't get to see much of T-Om these days, or Starbucks in Doylestown for that matter.
T-Om was not on the scene, but his partner in his real estate business was. She was loading up boxes in the old space. T-Om, apparently, felt no need to let moving get in the way of his usual monday night trip to the movies. "Helping out" meant I would climb the stairs two flights, grab a box, go down the stairs, out the front door, head up the street to the next building, in the front door, and up three flights to the new digs. And repeat. Countless times. For a half an hour anyway.
The new digs. A nice four-square. Big rooms. Facing the street. In one front room was T-Om's desk, and in the other front room was his partner's desk. One room rear room was a large, bright kitchen, and the other was currently a sort of store room. (That's where most of the boxes went.)
The whole time I was thinking, thinking...
"Nice bedroom. Big and square. With just a bed. And that room, facing the courthouse across the street: the dungeon. Perfect. So nice and big. Sparely furnished, the cage, the cross. That room, my desk, a couple of chairs, television. And such a great kitchen that would be. So much storage! Be great with a big island covered in butcherblock. For the dungeon, a dark, rich ochre. The bedroom that great green-brown color I've used at some point. The kitchen studio white. The study a nice orange. Wonder what the neighbor situation is? Does anyone live in this building or is it all commercial? Walking down to the train to Philly in the morning, stopping in at Starbucks, deciding 'make something here or eat out tonight?'. Taking Faithful Companion for walks, hearing him clatter up down the stairs."
Y'know what I really lust after? An apartment. An apartment to call my own. A nice apartment. A serious case of aparment envy.
Up until now, my life was a series of apartments. My dorm room; the Silk Mill, a factory rehab where I lived with two friends my senior year of college; my little two room at 237 North Sixth Street in Reading: the studio with the great little kitchen on 22nd Street in Philadelphia; the loft with the crumbling redwood deck on the back on South Street; the weird place that was all kitchen at 7th Street and Avenue B, my first apartment in New York; the place on First Avenue with three Indian restaurants crammed in on the ground floor beneath me and the cockroaches to go with it and the yard out back crammed with acanthus trees; the amazing little tower with windows facing all four directions on the Hell's Angels block; the tony digs on West Eleventh Street; the lower two floors of a corner brownstone in Boerum Hill, my first residence in Brooklyn; the brownstone I owned with the Awful Ex in Lefferts Manor; the place in Jersey City by Hamilton Park.
All of the addresses are preserved in my parents' phone book. I take up both of the "K" pages, one after another crossed off, sometimes with an arrow pointing to the one below. My sisters various apartments over the years--New Hope, Lambertville, Washington's Crossing, Gardenville, Upper Black Eddy--take up the rest.
Move in. Paint. Trips to Home Depot. Trips to IKEA. Settle in. Knowing that it was only a matter of time.
But now, I'm back where I started. Without an address. In the phone book, you'll find my father's name, but not mine. I don't even get my mail here since it goes to the local post office (quaintly staffed by a woman who introduces herself as the "Post Mistress."). This house that my father built, filled with clutter. Ceramic chichens, cracked ginger jars, where unwanted tchotchka goes to die.
Since I don't have an apartment, I live nowhere. Rootless. Dreaming of the day when I'll sign the lease, get the keys, run up the stairs, and walk through the empty rooms, dreaming of the possibilities.