Monday, March 22, 2010


I was trying to remember my college apartments the other day. Not the crackerbox on the north end of town I moved into in like January 1991, but the "college" apartments, the ones I lived on on campus: the "real" (totally fake) thing.

I lived for a period of time with the people who later became my future and then present in-laws. I loved D and D (their respective initials, kids, not the RPG ... D&D is an RPG, right??), and though I have not seen their faces since 1994, I still do. Beloved Ex keeps me posted on their doin's, including the ownership of a dog with the most PRECIOUS name I could absolutely never imagine my once-father-in-law owning. Ah, my in-laws - and, shoot, my ex. Posts upon posts there, wonderful, wonderful people I still pray for and am so happy to know are doing comfortably well. Yes, including their dorky son.

But my apartments. I had two, each one located on the same floor of the same old house, which had been a frat house just the year before. I believe that place has since been torn down; a great shame - it was one of those magnificient homes which made College Town such a marvelous place to be sometimes.

The first pad was three rooms, all leading off an echoing, dark, high-ceilinged hardwood hallway. From the left to right, if one was coming in the (frosted glass!) front door: huge, huge bedroom; huge, huge kitchen; big and funky-shaped living room with a tower-shaped window corner looking down a verdant hillside. The large bathroom with the giant clawfoot tub (which had, sadly, been framed-in to hide its footies) was on the farthest left extremity, off of the bedroom. There was a big deck off the kitchen, which I shamefully never used, and which had a disused stairway down to the parking lot and the dumpsters. I seem to remember spending all my time in the BR, really - or, more likely, with BEx, then my cool-oh rockstar townie boyfriend. But, when home - the bedroom. Homework there, everything there. The funny thing is that, apart from the general location of the mattress-on-the-floor, I can't actually remember what that room looked like. The window seems off at such a distance, in a part of the room receded into imagination, not really a real place. I do remember the bizarrely shallow closets; you couldn't really hang things there. And I may not even be remembering the bed's location right, because I'm simultaneously remembering the "desk" (giant plywood top and the requisite cinder blocks) being in the same place. Weird.

The huge, huge kitchen I used not at all - I think the only table in there was our old green-vinyl-topped card table; maybe a tablecloth to fancy it up. The living room and its magical brass-chained hanging marble table, and the giant console TV which barely picked up anything but the distant echo of PBS, leading me to dramatic mental monologues about how PBS would be my money donation recipient of choice (when I grew up) - also scarcely used. It took me a week, I think, to discover the funky smell I could not figure out was the slumped-over remains of the lime green beanbag chair my mom and dad had given me for my tenth birthday, marinating in Old Kitty Gert's first pee-marking experiment(s?). (And here marks one occasion I *know* I used that back stair ...)

My one vivid memory of that home was the way I would find myself absolutely transfixed by the most unearthly sound ... a musical, ghostly, wondrous noise - a high keen, a bright whistle, a sweet and longing call, a metallic, echoing, distant -- and yet very near -- song, an insinuating serenade. Beautiful. Singular. I've never heard its like in all the years since.

It took me two months, I think it turned out to be, for me to figure out what that sound was.

It was the train, hugging the steel curves of its rails, as it took a tight turn around the cliff at the foot of my verdant hill.


Anyway. Gert-kitty, too. The other great memory of that home. I remember when I got him, living in that place. I remember his being so tiny, I took him for walks, him riding on my shoulder, hiding in my hair.

Yes: Gert was a boy. Yeah, I know. I'd never had a cat before, and it's DANG hard to tell when they're like five weeks old, dude. He rocked, so don't diss the name, man.

The second apartment was in its way more sensible. It certainly contains more memories (the big event in first-apartment days was the jumping of Gert, from our second-story pad, down to the BRICK patio below, a descent of about eighteen feet or so. Yowza). Second apartment was where I lived when I graduated - and my parents were serenaded one summer night by the charming and dulcet calls of drunken about-to-be-college-grads hollering about precisely the sort of things they were interested in rewarding themselves with, with the sorority girls up the way. Oh my.

It's the apartment I had when I discovered the effect of dish detergent and Clorox (chlorine gas! WHOO-WHEE!). The place I lived during some of the worst bronchitis of my life, where BEx used to come to make sure I was okay, and fell asleep RAPIDLY under the influence of Tylenol with Codeine. Apparently, I put on quite the floorshows, brief as they necessarily turned out to be. It's where my cousin's family and mine, and BEx, came together for the Charlie Brown's Christmas kind of meal which was the very first time I ever entertained.

It's where the couches were twin beds stacked on each other, with bedspreads for slipcovers.

It's where I went looking for a job.

It's the end of that part of my life.

These environs truly scarcely exist in my mind anymore. I remember the ticking-fabric, blue striped curtains in the secong apartment, the windows to each side of the nonfunctional fireplace. I remember the skinny, dark kitchen. I remember the bedroom, its ancient aqua wool carpet, the way I cleaned it by scuffing dirt and lint around with my shoes, since I didn't have a vacuum. I remember those windows. I remember the bathroom there, too, warm, white, and pretty. Used to lie in that tub for so many hours. I kept a little RV-portable TV in there. I did my homework there. I ate meals in that tub.

I remember being sick, and hot, and BEx putting a silver ring box on my shoulder blade one summer nighttime. I remember Xeroxing my hand for my mom at work after that. "My ring!"

I remember the best photo of us two ever taken, him on the step outside that building, both of us staring at some family or other off to one side.

I remember, and know now, the fine man who once married me, and am blessed and grateful all the sadness is gone from that. He was so good to me. Man, I was a rotten snot.

I remember fragments, and bad roommates, and things either side of my college apartments. I remember BEx's apartment, and our friends, and our family back then.

I was a lucky girl.

What crazy luck: I still am.

Even if that building is gone.

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