I am sitting on my chili pepper red loveseat I bought 3 years ago when every single thing I bought was miniature and either red or black and my life was finally falling apart like coffee grounds breaking through an overused paper filter and scattering like dirt on the kitchen floor.
The end of this loveseat is frayed from my failed attempt to raise a delinquent kitten into a responsible cat roommate. I don’t much like it anymore because this color reminds me of The Tragic Time when there was a hallowed hole where my heart use to be and everything I touched seemed to either die or nearly kill me.
I also appreciate this loveseat because it unfolds into a full bed and it has fit into all of my tiny living spaces in which I rearranged my few possessions like a live game of Tetris. This is the cradle in which my baby boy and I laid together and watched TV and healed after I no longer watched TV with him in the house I had shared with his father.
This loveseat lives up to its name, because like real love, it knows the truth about me and it doesn’t really care if it’s job is to prop me up or lay me down; it holds me just the same.
I live above an art store across from a Lutheran College and behind an artsy coffee shop and theatre called the Radio Café. Jody works the early shift at the Café and kindly fills my carafe with java some mornings with a mutual understanding: I stumble over, hand her the carafe and $ 2.00. She fills it with coffee and a little milk and I nod in thanks and leave in silence.
It is 17 steps up to my apt. and I’ve lived here just over two months, having moved here from the 1 bedroom apt. right next door. That apartment was 800 square feet and had 3 entrance doors, one each into my: kitchen, dining room, and closet. In moving, I exchanged the door into my closet for a 2nd bedroom.
Juliet lives across the hall and Romeo climbs the stairs often to visit her. They are beautiful 20-somethings who rock the halls of this old building with Led Zeppelin they play on an old record player in this age of CDs and IPods and Music On Demand. Juliet thinks he looks like Bob Dylan, but I am certain he looks more like Roger Daltry would have if he had used expensive French cosmetics on his face so that his skin looked pure. They have been together 4 months and the joy they share fills the space between them as if imaginary lines drawn from her gentle curves and pianist fingers connect to his impossible golden curls causing a perpetual smile that starts by his chin and ends in his sky blue eyes.
They greet me with eager smiles and invite me to their home for wine. They read my writing and encourage my work. Juliet is a music major, an amazing mezzo-soprano; I hear her practicing when I leave my apartment and sometimes it stops me in dead-hurry; it is too beautiful to rush past. Romeo is a philosopher and writer who makes me laugh and who has the same imagination and sense of humor as my youngest son, Chase. They share with me their dreams and stories and they smile whenever I call them the nicknames I’ve given them.
Josh and Kelly live in my old apartment now. She is his “fiancé now I guess!” he told me last night when we met. They had been engaged 22 hours. Juliet knew they had moved in but hadn’t yet heard the news. Romeo proposed we have a potluck in the hall to celebrate this good news…with lawnchairs and all our doors open so we could play music.
At the end of the hall there is an Asian family. The grandma cares for her toddler grandson during the day. The toddler doesn’t speak English well, but I can understand him by his body language and the lilt to his voice that only toddlers possess. During the day I can hear them playing chase around the furniture and as her affectionate babbling gives way to his delighted shrieks, it strikes me that the game of Chase sounds the same in every language.
My address now is 541 – ½. I use to say that having a ½ in my address must surely mean this is merely a stop on my way to another place that is more where I might expect to live at this stage of life.
But the ½ is growing on me. The people who share walls with me are rich in character and open in mind. And while in this space we are likely all poor in riches, it is good to live with people so rich in Spirit. It is sort of like living in an eclectic commune – but with separate bathrooms. And it seems like the halves in all our addresses make up way more than a whole.
I may just stay here awhile.