Thursday, May 04, 2006


Awakened initially at 2 AM by a cat vomiting, as I tried to go back to sleep after cleaning up, it begins.


The lady in the apartment above me has another gentleman caller. This sort of thing hasn't happened for awhile, but she was banging away up there Saturday night, and she's doing it again now.

creakcreak--then a male voice,"Ohhhhhhhuuuuhhh," then nothing.

It didn't even take two minutes.

I don't really know the lady above me. I've seen her, I know of her, I know she lives alone. But apartment living is anonymous by nature. There are two people in this whole building--five floors, several apartments on each floor--I know by name. There are a couple more I know by sight. The rest are just here and gone.

On my floor alone there was the good-natured, heavy-drinking Russian guy. The hot lesbian couple, who would occasionally stop by to use my phone. The thirtyish divorcee who was moving in around the same time I was, and who, for reasons I still don't understand, I never tried to get to know better.

They're all gone now, replaced by people who will be gone soon. Or by people who will stay aound for awhile, but still exist in a state of permanent anonymity. Apartment dwellers are like that.

I used to live in a house. I mowed the lawn, I walked my dog, hell, I even cleaned my gutters. (Once.) There was freedom there, the freedom to turn my music up loud, to paint the walls however I wanted (gray and black), to live my life my way--I didn't have to share.

I briefly dated a woman who lived in an apartment, and it seemed so constraining. She was a typical black-clad, spooky artist type, and I couldn't understand how she could stand to live in a place where she wasn't allowed to paint the walls, or crank her music. The apartment life is not for me.

Then Sue Ellen. She lived in an apartment, too, but hers was immediately inviting. For one thing, it was cluttered--it looked like someone actually lived there. Her cat liked me immediately. Maybe apartment living wasn't so bad.

So I moved in with her. We got married and moved into another apartment. She got a promotion, we moved across country to yet another apartment.

And in all that time, all those places, we never knew our neighbors. We lived in the same place in Iowa City for three and a half years, and barely knew anyone in our building by sight, much less by name. No nodding aquaitances, no "Hey, how ya doing?", nothing.

Surely people knew of us. For one thing, we had a weird habit of breaking into spontaneous production numbers, and when we'd sing, we'd sing LOUD. There was dancing, too, which usually involved something getting knocked over--more noise. You'd think with all the commotion, somebody would have knockd on the door and asked us to keep it down, or even ask for requests, but no. Nothing.

Since Sue Ellen and I split up, I've lived three different places. This apartment--good Lord, I've been here three years. It still doesn't feel like home. Maybe it never will. It's a place for me to sleep, a place for now, it'll do until the next place. And I'm sure there will be another place, and a place after that.

Home? The idea doesn't exist for me anymore. I'm an apartment dweller.