i read back over zap, crackle, kapow and get that sense of displacement again. it happens when life throws its neck sideways and whips you onto an entire different level; another outcropping of red rock, your new small cluster of moss. you have to crane your head to catch a glimpse of where you were just standing. dr. seuss terrain. sky trees balancing on igneous rock spires.
that post reads like a mouse running around in a box. of course it’s not always like that, even there. toward the end, i felt beautifully distant from all of it, as sometimes happens. watching players from cupid’s lofty gun turret.
laura, or maybe her name was sandra, or louise or something–she moved in upstairs in the old apartment complex, and of course plays her music nice n loud. i had a hard time feeling mean about it, though. which was odd for a minute. but she has, you know, a shelf outside on the balcony. and plants. and a beaded or lace type curtain hanging over her door. the wind blows it around, lazily, as if to casually declare the warm months officially arrived, go screw if you mind, flick of cigarette.
lara (hazel, maybe), leaves her door open and her somewhat uncool music selection is the soundtrack for the entire parking lot. i’m not even resentful that she has usurped me in this way. her balcony above me is starred and plumed and knotted with decorations, plants, macrame and who knows what else. she has cast a net and erected a shelf and set down plants and the whole thing has an authentic bohemian vibe to it. authentic in the sense of way too fuckin’ old to be a hipster, and not self conscious at all, just possessed of nutty-jelly taste and unconcerned with the repercussions.
in a week flat, she (mitzi? glenda?) knows everyone in the building, and walks around the entire complex. she floats from one corner of the balcony to another apartment, to another door, like some kind of bee, bobbing over soda-stained flowers on the fringes of an abandoned lot. watching her quickly connect with others, and feel out the space, and make herself available…i felt happy. she seemed to glide right down into a niche the place didn’t even know it had.
after five years at the Fellini Motel, and after watching numerous neighbors move in and after watching the situation devolve into conflict (and even police) over noise (and power) far too many times—for once—it went a whole different way. when (of course) she began playing her music loudly after moving in, instead of my thinking what is wrong with you for not first feeling out your environment and adapting to it!!! (as i usually do in these situations), i had the unexpected thought she belongs here.
they all do. wanda the bohemian ex-vegas dancer; the schizophrenic cat in the basement apartment who fumes and postulates all night; the california surferish casual dude upstairs who tried to bond with me, albeit unsuccessfully; M., the man-child groundskeeper; the wired-way-too-tight, bald-headed hairdresser fellow who decorates the bushes every christmas; the always-in-shorts, overweight, diabetic, chain-smoking, raincoat flasher guy next-door to my apartment–the entire motley cast at 2525 Portmanteau Street—they all seemed indigenous to the entire apartment complex. as if time had caught up with itself and they were there, as always, slumped in the dawn chair.
i thought i’m the one who doesn’t fit in here. and not in any classist sense or even in a self-pitying way. it was a good thought. it was just time to leave the theater quietly, and let the show go on without me.
there is always a certain amount of drama happening, or about to happen, in low-income apartment housing. maybe there is in all dwellings. maybe these are the sort so close together that you simply hear more of the drama. (for some reason i’m flashing on the hobbled together stacked shanties where all the irish lived upon arriving in new york city’s five points. at least, according to martin scorcese in gangs of new york.) everyone sharing walls with everyone around you. being privy to multiple peoples’ coughs, burps, shouts, fights, fuck sessions, paranoid episodes, chair lifts, picture hanging frenzies. all of that is now gone. all the hectic shadows on my big bay window; neighbors and their guests rubbernecking to peer past my black muslin curtains. noises at night, shouts in multiple kitchens. dump trucks in the alley at 7 am, domestic quarreling to the right, frantic monologues from the mentally ill seeping through the floor all night, yolanda upstairs blasting Kool and the Gang’s Celebration, turning the entire apartment building into a giant fucking bar mitzvah party at will.
it might work on you differently at times. sometimes it all blends into a comforting buzz of background sound. and then sometimes, the accumulation of disorganized and intrusive energy sets you on edge and you are besieged by a chaos that you would swat at with razor-cut barbecue tongs, but it won’t narrow its attack enough for you to target the offender. it’s just all around you, giving you no respite and no room. it’s your life. it’s where you lay your head at night. it’s where you wake up. you find yourself pounding on doors. opening yours to police. launching spittle that accidentally lands on your neighbors head (don’t you??). you bide your time.
the move is not yet finished. but i’m still unwinding. i’m still sighing, and settling, and stretching out and walking softly through the house, socks on. the carpet is new, or clean, or light colored for once (and not that shade of Mottled Vomit that the landowners put in apartments with high turnover rate; a pattern aimed at college kids who repeatedly spill beer and stomp mud on the carpet). the place is tucked away in a magical grove of trees on a hill on the border of the town proper. i look over houses on a hill, and up into pines a mile high. i have escaped the burning shanty town on the plains. even the night’s restless hands can’t find me, once the sun sets. not cloaked in all of this green.