Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Open and Closed

I like to wallow in it. And, when the real despair hits, I prefer to be in bed, staring at my white ceiling with hair pin cracks, listening to the doors of my apartment building open and close, open and close. I can differentiate between the groaning hinges and hollow bang of the basement door (remember, I’m the garden apartment) to the sturdy, more definitive thump of my neighbor’s door across the hall. Upstairs, they fight and play the guitar and watch Jackie Chan movies and only open the door for the sushi delivery man— unfortunately, I know all of this. Finally, there’s the slam. I sleep.
Feelings of failure and loneliness do a deceptively simple two-step with my thoughts and dreams. What’s real? What’s conjured up by a hyper-active imagination? The final scene is always this: my lease is up, I have to move on—down and out of my little apartment, the first place in my adult life that I called “home.” The super of ___ Sullivan Street is upset that I’ve painted my walls a shade of cafĂ© au lait, “Pinte o pague,” he says, long ago having given up communication in English. So I have to pay him or paint though I don’t have any of it—no brushes, no paint, no thousand dollars in cash, no real friends to help cover up the walls, conceal any proof of my previous existence.
But, somehow, I get it done. I paint the walls by myself. I carry the furniture out to the curb one piece at a time. I wrap and then stack the family photos—the pictures of the little pigeon-toed girl that had been given so much… and, then, did what? Even though I failed, I failed on my own terms and picked up all of the little pieces. I didn’t leave a mess for somebody else, I didn’t run out and leave someone else to contend with my four painted walls.
Optimism sets in. I have no place to live but one night left in the city. Who will I meet to change the course of my fortune? Which lovely little boite will play host to my final evening in the city? Will I go to “Raoul’s” for a dirty martini or sit at the “Cub Room’s” high wooden bar and sip the season’s first rose’?
I smile and move ahead in the twilight air because I have to.

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