In the beginning, there was my place:
And there was his place:
My apartment was in a blue Victorian with a red door.
His had blue trim and two circular windows like portholes at either end.
Our apartments were on the same street, one block apart.
We spent the majority of our time, running back and forth between them.
It was perfect. We dated for three years without a break.
We lived in the Fan. There were brick sidewalks and magnolia trees everywhere. There was a movie rental place, an Italian take-out joint, a coffee shop, museums, restaurants, bars and an avenue behind our apartments that was nice to walk along. I liked to walk, anywhere, with him.
Everybody called his place “the treehouse.” There were a series of rickety stairs that ran right up to the apartment in the back. The fire escape, really. That’s how I came in and out.
Mine had a bay window where I pushed my desk and wrote at night when the hookers marched up and down the street. The street looked completely normal during the day. But at night, from about midnight until four or five a.m., there was a parade of transvestite hookers who marched up and down the street.
But that’s not what I remember about that place.
What I remember is that I started Whores on the Hill in that apartment. Just the first few chapters of it.
I remember running between apartments, going to the record store, the bookstore, going to graduate school. Being twenty and happy most of the time. Although not all the time. Because you never are. You just think you were, when you look back.
It wasn’t perfect, but I thought it was.
I liked it: having my own place. Knowing that if there were dirty dishes in the sink, they were mine. I could clean them or not, whenever I chose. If there was a mess, it was mine. The space was mine and mine alone and I liked it that way.
The only thing I hated were the nights when we parted. Sunday nights were the worst. I hated to come home, alone, to the piles of work and computer sitting there. I’d put it off and put it off and put it off, stretching out Sunday at his place, reading a book on the couch, cooking dinner, watching TV until finally, it was late and time to go home. Sometimes he’d walk me back. Which was sweet, but in a way was worse, because I didn’t like the parting, on my front stoop, the goodbye kiss.
It felt like a tearing of yourself, your one-ness, now, that you were a couple, instead of two.
I’d walk up the stairs, alone, and slip the key in the lock. Once the sting of separation wore off, I’d get back in the swing of my independent life. I wrote at night and went to class and taught my students. I came and went as I pleased. I was twenty and alone and I liked it. Because he was just down the block. And I knew that in a night or two, I’d be back at his place again.
But it couldn’t last forever.