These are not my thoughts. These are the thoughts of someone I am very close to but am still discovering. I am a passenger, a scribe, swimming in this stream of consciousness. These thoughts resemble mine, filtered through the context of speculative fiction… Enlivened and elongated for the expression of things I’m afraid to tell strangers. These thoughts are mine but do not belong to me.
I suppose some of them do.
It is noon and this house will soon be very empty. Dan and I slaved most of yesterday away, hauling trash to the dump in the rain, wondering aloud what unforgivable sins we had committed to deserve such hell. Dan’s befuddlement may well have been genuine, I’m well aware of a number of my own failings that render me ripe for a judgment decidedly more sulfuric than a drenching.
We are dragging. We take our things out piece by piece, dribbling slabs of motivation on top of our growing disillusionment with the process. We have too much stuff. So much! Every bit of it feels extraneous and onanistic now.
You can tell if something means anything to you by how it feels somersaulting over a railing and every crash of debris hitting the metal bottom of a trash container feels like church. I’m living. Stained couches drunken friends had sunken into, desk chairs for desks I’d done nothing but fail at, mini fridges and record places all vaulted to their shattered ends.
There is nearly a fight; this is our final trip here. Two well-fed men both angling for a space -the prime parking spot next to the trash container. Only milliseconds separated the arrival of the man in the white truck from the man in the red truck. They’re gesticulating wildly and cursing each other in a decidedly middle class way while Dan and I struggle with a record player about Dan’s size.
My thoughts run to the embarrassingly cliché – how amazingly final this all feels. This house is completely done with us and its secrets will remain with her. This is a stupid line of thought but I continue with it. Why does all of this remind me so much of death?
I think because only one of us is going away. Mass migrations always leave me cold; every person going in their own direction just seems like the end of a party. When only one person leaves there is a defining sense of loss of if he were here things would be different. Three of us from the house are sticking together for one more year but that just adds to the melancholy. I don’t think I’m sad though I recognize the sadness.
Dan, Kyle and I are all simply moving our stuff to another place we will share together, recreating and reimagining our rooms in a different locale. Keith is just leaving. His room will grow to a home, a wife and a family. A cat too I suppose.
Driving fast, we pass the house on our way back home; Dan’s mind is on something else. A something else he seems reticent to tell me. He’s too business-like to be sentimental but I detect some dewy wistfulness in his eye. I actually don’t know what it is. Later I find that it was a rather mundane response to me carelessly dropping a sofa on his foot…
The house feels so hollow, everything is gone and I hear echoes now. I begin to wander to remind myself of what the house looks like and all of the little boundaries that we’ve set here are voided. Don’t enter without knocking, keep the bathroom door closed, this is my room not yours. I find them all fictions created by our desire to live together peacefully. I wonder if maybe these boundaries represent the masculine fictions we’ve erected to keep ourselves from expressing feelings… Now is not the time and I snap myself back to reality, inspecting rooms to find flaws. Dan has been murmuring something about a “deep clean” and “security deposits.” Security deposits can buy shoes and pay bills. I need both.
I’m cataloguing my thoughts, knowing that I might write them down later. I am so gratuitously phony.
We continue to take out our things. We are not done.
My thoughts run to the embarrassingly cliché – how amazingly final this all feels. I’m sure that I’ve had this exact thought earlier. Pathetic.
Dan’s cat Alice is by turns truculent and demure. She can’t decide if she is more scared or angry. She’ll end up meowing incessantly when she is transported to the new place.
Here there is ribald joking to hide the fact that this process feels like a little death… “A little death,” my pretentious mind intuits that there should be an elegant continental phrase I could use here but the French at the very least does not apply. I chuckle to myself. It echoes and I’m startled.
This is the end of the house that Keith, Dan, Kyle and I inhabit. Melodrama.
There is no objective reason to be upset and I guess I’m not really. I am simply struck by a weird melancholy that my mind imposes. Uncomplicated thoughts are such luxuries.
Keith (my best friend) told me he is going to be lonely in his small place downtown, in the month he’ll be there without his soon to be wife. I didn’t answer in kind because I wouldn’t have meant it. He’ll look back on the time alone fondly a year into his cramped flat, ironing out the intimate intricacies of marital bliss. I don’t mention this to him because we’re not often vulnerable with each other.
We’ve left so very much unexplored, never venturing to the forbidden attic or the place beyond the treeline. We’ve made the house so much smaller than it could have been, restricting ourselves to our rooms and common areas.
Dan is profound – “we’re now at the point of moving where we are close to being done but yet so far into the process that the end is hard to contemplate.” This makes sense to me as I’m closer to 30 than I am to youth.
I feel so detached from the miasma that the thoughts and emotions leaving this house have created in me. I can feel poorly-formed thoughts bubbling up from the subliminal parts of my being and I make an effort to wrench some virtue from them. I coalesce my emotions into a thought that awakens me from literary impotence; I’ll call this short story – All the Many Rooms I Refused to Die In
Why? Because here I chose life over and over again. In the face of my own struggles with the concept.
I wander the empty house, worn through soles slapping on the hardwood echoing their announcement of my poverty. I think back to all the times I sat cross-legged on the floor of my room. Thinking, just thinking with my back turned to the packaged mediums of my escape.
This empty room is where I’ve slept (poorly) for a year. Here I’d thought hard about the girl I knew better than, girls I wasn’t good enough for and the girl who would admit to anything but loving me.
Here I’d thought about ending it on a whim.
My phone flashes at me with insouciance.
The girl with the whole- ass overseas boyfriend just texted me on her way to the airport, she’s seen my snap story about moving. I thought I’d f*cking hidden it from her. She’s on her way back to my locale, fresh out of the cheap motel where she’d met her part time lover… He thought he was always on the clock but she clocked him out for the weekend and started him up again on Monday morning. She met him somewhere in the heartland, surrounded by corn fields and chain restaurants. I was hoping that he’d done enough in that hotel room to keep her out of my DMs. I guess he’d failed.
Dang. It is a cold game.
She wants to know if the new place is “far from the old place.” I’ll make her wait for my answer, at least until she doesn’t smell like Axe and secrets.
I’ve gotta put my phone down. Or turn it off or anything else. All our conversations are weird now
I put my phone back in my pocket when I am back in my room again. If I close my eyes I can visualize my room as I left it so many times; bed on the left, laptop, TV and Bookshelves all on a row along the back wall.
I wonder who would find me if death had found me here on my futon mattress. Maybe I would have finally choked on my tongue and writhed my way to the floor to lie motionless on the dirty socks and one nice pair of shoes I had. Death here would feel so private. Sometimes at night I can see death peeking in the window and of course I’m scared but twice as often I am dismissive. I could have died here and sometimes I wanted to. I looked death right in his many faces and refused them all. My misshapen feelings and thundering conscience told me that perhaps I was missing out but instead I convinced myself that waking up and walking out each morning was a triumph. I was Douglas MacArthur.
This is the first room I refused to die in.
Who wants to see a chubby corpse?
I open the door from my room and Keith’s door is across from mine. He’s puckish, conservative, political and so secretly driven, it doesn’t conflict with my own naked ambition. His room is a veritable arsenal of guns, pistols, a shotgun and a rifle all displayed prominently but stowed away properly. This is still a temptation. I disavow my own thoughts… Nah, this would mess him up too bad, can’t do that. Maybe it would make me an anecdote he can play off for tears at a Jaycees meeting or maybe it would be an attack ad in District 1. Weird kind of immortality. I wonder how he would react if I went into his room, found the shotgun shells under his bed and… I suspect he’d peer around to see my corpse, checking to see if it was unaccompanied. I hoped he’d have the wherewithal to make a witty comment that he would absolutely regret a second later. Every time he left and I was there alone the doorway to his room would get larger and I could picture myself going in, searching out the ammo and making a scene. I couldn’t do it to him. Who makes their best friend clean up their head with a broom?
Keith’s room is right next to Kyle’s – an ode to a type of intellectualism and autodidaction that I admire. He’s all Joe Rogan and Jordan Petersen buttressed by Kant, Aquinas and Locke. He wouldn’t come back and find me for weeks and if I were as brave as him I’d have done it long before – when my life was worth saving.
Down the hall is Dan’s room – he’s fastidious but rarely fussy. A bit of a nerd in the acceptable way, funny and self-deprecating, less-obsessive and more conventional than me in his cinematic taste but more cultured and wider read in the art form than me. I’d imagine he’d first be upset by the mess. He’d invariably wonder why I would expect him to clean up after me and his cat would probably nibble on my earlobes as I expired, her final revenge for our strained (allergic) relationship. Dan is likely the only one who would appreciate me placing a target beside my head if I’d pulled the trigger.
These thoughts are not constant within me but I can’t call them strangers. The good days far outnumber the bad.
Living room – I’d do it there purely for the irony. Imagine being DEAD in a living room. I’d figure out a way to do it on a couch, maybe keep the TV on so they think I’m simply quieter than usual watching something subpar. Here would be a perfect diorama of our life together – “ I WON’T BE CLEANING THIS UP, WHY MUST HE ALWAYS MAKE A MESS” fussy Dan would say, Keith would loom over us both with an unsteady Swiffer, both completely unable to get in touch with Kyle.
Kitchen – I’ve always thought of living here. I like eating and besides… Who dies in a kitchen?
I’m annoyed by the lack of harmony or symmetry in my thoughts. I’ll have to write this essay as a stream of consciousness. I guess I shouldn’t admit that this my underhanded way of writing without purpose or meaning, simply enjoying the visceral act of expressing myself to an ambivalent world. Me? I’ve never heard of Stephen Crane. HA!
I know better than to attribute my triumph to any act of will. I overstate my ailment but I cannot overstate the necessity of the God I forever disappoint.
This is the last load; everything I cared about was too much to take with me so I divided it up between the dump and my new home.
I haven’t left a speck of dust in the room I slept in. This house will continue on with families that don’t know me, comprised of people who don’t know how my ghost would have haunted them. There is nothing of consequence in this thought for I too have lived in houses where would be ghosts – frustrated by the iron wills of former tenants – have lain indignantly dormant.
This is moving, the repackaging of things that populated the rooms that we refused to die in in order to transport them to the places we eventually will. I don’t consider this insight profound (most likely because it isn’t) but it is effecting. There is even some comedy here in the drudgery of the move. In a sense, the last time all of my possessions are stuffed into boxes and sorted into piles (likely by people that resemble me that aren’t born yet) I won’t have to do the any of the work. I can live with that. Heh.
I’m jolted awake from this macabre reverie. Kyle is talking and I haven’t been listening. I didn’t know he was here. This is odd.
I look around, Keith has already done his best with his bathtub and left without words.
“Let’s mop this b*tch and leave” Kyle says. He’s confident but he has never used a swiffer before. Dave patiently (and paternally) shows him how. This will be the dynamic at the new place. I smile indulgently at minds unspoiled by cliched thoughts.
Kyle walks through the kitchen a final time “that’s it.”
Dan nods with a last discriminating look– “we’re okay.”
I grin “yeah”
We’ve left 4 keys on the counter.
I guess I won’t die here. These are all the many rooms I refused to die in and a new set is looming.
30 years and God is counting
I’m counting on God