Beautiful girls with terrible taste in paisley drapes

I went a-roving around the northwest part of my neighborhood today, looking for a market within walking distance. I haven’t eaten anything but pizza for three days, and I think it’s actually starting to make me feel a little bit drugged, so I figured it would be a good idea to buy some milk. I finally found a convenience store after a half hour or so of tromping around. But when I went back to the cooler, there wasn’t a price anywhere around the gallons of milk. So I decided instead to just buy beer.

The price of beer wasn’t labeled either. Then, when I saw that cigarettes were less than five dollars a pack, I thought I would get some of them, too. I don’t know how I work shit like this out in my head, but it seemed to make sense. So I walked out of the store with a six pack of MGD and a box of Parliament Lights.

The great thing, the one good thing about cigarettes is that they allow you to do something that you might not otherwise do.

I wouldn’t usually spend ten minutes just staring out the window, leaning into the screen, looking down at the big, lit-up fountain doing its dance if I wasn’t smoking, too. It gives me an excuse to just stop and try to realize that things I suspect of being boring really aren’t boring at all. Because you don’t have to be doing anything else when you’re smoking, and smoking doesn’t really make you do anything – it’s kind of an anti-activity. So there are two options. You can smoke while you do other things, and I think this is what’s characterized as addiction, or you can use the anti-activity as an excuse to be completely inactive. Not to “relax” or “unwind” or “take the edge off” or whatever it is people do when they don’t do anything. Just not do anything.

I don’t think I’m allowed to smoke in my apartment, and I don’t particularly want to anyway. But I smoked the one cigarette today, leaning into the window, almost wrapped in the paisley drapes.

I’ve wondered about who lived here before. Who has such terrible taste in paisley drapes? Who keeps a box of latex exam gloves in the medicine cabinet, and doesn’t take them out before they move? Who, pray tell, keeps a box of indigestion medicine that’s written in Cyrillic (or something)?

Me3NM spells relief!

It's actually made me feel a bit uncomfortable living here, not knowing who was here before. I assumed it was some Ukranian academic who got a sudden fellowship leave or fucking died and they didn't feel like cleaning out the apartment, so they decided to just leave all her dead-woman shit in the closets and rent it out to whoever came along.

This morning I got a phone call from a number I don’t know. I don’t usually answer calls from numbers I don’t know, instead just letting the machine work its magic. But I took it today, the corners of my eyes still crusted over with sleep.

The woman on the other end was obviously nervous, and I couldn't quite understand me at first. She had a nice, neutrally-accent voice. After a couple of non-starters, she finally managed to introduce herself, tacking on "I'm your landlord" at the end. She wanted to know if she had any mail left, because she almost missed a bill. I told her the truth, that I actually haven't checked the mail since I got here, because I didn't figure anybody had sent me anything. But I promised I would, and get back to her.

She had about five or six bills, and I sort of felt like a jerk for not catching them sooner. I called her back and told her I would forward them along to her, before I figured out that the nearest post office is like five miles away, and I still haven't driven my car since I got here because I don't want to deal with the valet, or, more accurately, the fact that I have a valet.

But anyway, I thought about it for a while. Because I've talked to "my landlord" before, and he's a guy with a funny accent. And she didn't have a funny accent. And she sounded very young. And they share a last name, so, one assumes, they are related. Husband and wive, father and daughter.

So, I did what any self-respecting academic does: research. By which I mean, I myspaced her. Her profile is set to private. But there's a picture of her. And she is goddamn beautiful. She's one of those Pacific Islanders who radiate something, glow something, maybe because their skin looks as much as a person’s skin can look like a precious metal.

And it's strange. Because it has fundamentally changed the way I live in this apartment. Not the approach, just the experience. Because I was convinced that I had inherited this place from a Russian endocrinologist who died of something ironic, like hyperthyroidism. But it turns out, I inherited it from a girl who probably just graduated, got a job, and moved on to something else. And who happens to be really, really good-looking.

There are two ways to think about it. One is the way proposed by the only person I told about this particular phenomenom, which was...

"Dude... you should just go around and smell everything you haven't really touched."

Which is perhaps to discount the fact that she saved a box of indigestion medication from another country.

The other way is somehow akin to an archetypal Sandra Bullock movie. It's to have a picture in the mind's eye of intertwining spirits, walking through this place, bent on their diurnal routines. Not because they're dying out and having their lives snatched up by vultures waiting. But because the things in the world are being redistributed, re-appropriated, remade in a new image, like they always are. Today, if I want to take it, my life's overarching superstructure got the opportunity to become less about a necessary and sad transition from the recently-dead to the soon-to-die, to being "about" sharing in the part of collective life that is still untested and untasted, still yet-to-come, which constitutes the hope of the world, and the hope of improvement, from the world as it was one day to the world as it might be tomorrow.

And I know this is bullshit. I mean, I sound like a communist.

But there's something beautiful about still being young, in the scheme of things, and taking over for somebody who is still young, in the scheme of things. People who have an unlimited opportunity to get their shit together. People whose lives can become anything, can become really, really great lives if only they get the breaks. People who can move and shake and gladhand and highroll and eventually become as good as they could have been under any circumstances.

It's not impossible, you know?

It's possible.

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