Good, Good, Good, Good Vibrations
This home I’ve made for myself is a strange one. My apartment is the sort that’s been cheaply renovated to look hip, all exposed brick walls and raw beams, but upon deeper examination you’ll find it has the water pressure of a Fisher Price sprinkler. There are four of us living here (one not included on the lease). Sometimes I go for a week without seeing any of them. Other times, we sit around and watch Arrested Development or obscure art films on a weeknight. Last week, two of them turned on Beach Boys at two in the morning, and it wasn’t the noise that woke me, but the vibrations.
When left to my own devices, I tend to fold into myself. I become a hermit, like Willy Wonka before the tickets, locked away with only his imagination and a lot of candy. It normally takes a real effort on someone else’s part to pull me out of it. My idea of a Friday night is typing for hours on a manuscript, taking only short breaks for the bathroom or to pop a few frozen taquitos in the microwave. Given the choice, I’ll lock myself in a room with my computer and a jug of orange juice and work for days with little to no human contact.
In Memphis, I had people who prevented this, and I would begrudgingly emerge from my cocoon of sweatpants and string cheese wrappers to face the muggy light of day. But I worried about myself moving away. What would become of me in a place where I only vaguely knew a handful of people who had their own lives and knew nothing of my solitary tendencies? I wondered if I would ever leave my new apartment, if I’d write, write, write in obsessive isolation, waiting for the day I had something to share.
Those fears were relieved the day I moved in. My apartment is too small to allow my becoming a shut-in (the sort of small where I can almost reach the refrigerator door from my bedroom), and my roommates are too distracting. Those comfortable old habits of mine would never work here, so I decided to do the opposite, something I had been all too unwilling to try in Memphis: make a social effort.
I could do a lot better. I’m not one to make plans. I’m an invitee through and through, and don’t let anyone tell you different. But I meet coworkers after work for drinks, and I’ve been to parties I’m not cool enough to go to. I joined a writing group a few weeks ago. Usually I spend the entire time I’m out wishing I was at home typing. I am who I am, but I’m trying.
I like to think I am expanding myself. Coming from a Tennessee same-as-me bubble to living with random roommates and going home each day to a lesbian couple and a French film student will do that to you. It stretches you.
The roommates make me coffee in the mornings, and it doesn’t taste half bad. I take out the trash. We watch French film projects without subtitles, and the English speakers among us offer praise like we understood what was happening. Just the other day, one of them brought me a book she knew I would like, which she found in a box of throw-aways on the street. Later that night, I heard one of them spouting a stream of curse words that would make Spongebob Sailor Mouth blush (her anger was directed at an electrical outlet that wouldn’t work no matter how much she “wiggled” it. She was very drunk). We’re currently conspiring together to lower our rent because our air conditioning units are inexplicably sitting disconnected in our backyard, and with this weather, we’re never sure if we should sleep with only sheets or wearing wool socks.
They know about my strange obsession with Shrek 2 because one of them walked in on me watching it, at which point I fumbled with the remote to switch it off like it was something much more shameful. I know they watch the Simpsons like it’s the news, and one of them eats pasta each night with such well-timed regularity I can determine the hour (11pm).
I’ll be looking for a new place to live come September, preferably with people I know, but things aren’t so bad here. We aren’t close, but we’re not far either. Something between strangers and friends. We’re like that blind, three-legged dog and the goose that became a pair– not quite a fit, but we waddle and hobble and make it work.