My first apartment out of home was this ugly thing out of a new couples catalogue. The circumstances of why I moved out of home at this time are a bit blurry. I think I just moved out because a friend was looking for someone to move out with and I could afford it. So I packed up some boxes and a bed and just went for it. It was cheap, and it happened so fast I barely remember thinking it was an adventure.
It was one of those places that had that plastic feel. That when it was new it was all sparkly in a dull way. A neat little place for neat young people. But years of wear ate away at it. It just seemed like an apartment to order, no personality, but then again I didn’t try to give it any either. I never did feel at home enough to put up posters or anything. I had cardboard boxes for my clothes. Never met a single neighbour. I did finally get a piano after years of wanting one.
I started a band also around the same time, or maybe I was already in one. And many songs were written in that little shithole, as planes flew by our 4th floor balcony. I worked hard at radio, now having the freedom of being so close to the city. God, I stayed up til so late at that place. Listening to music on headphones, playing guitar, reading comics, music magazines and novels set in foreign countries.
For a while I could hear people having sex in other apartments, but it was so regular and so good that I realised it must have been someone watching porn. I don’t know why but I thought it was quite romantic otherwise. But that’s always how I saw the world a bit. I never felt the world was a stage, rather than a novella.
Like anywhere you live, and I lived there for almost two years I think, memories fade like bite marks on your skin. I can still remember friends staying over, singing and playing guitars into the night. Sloan songs. Big Star songs. Gram. Sometimes even some Rod. The hotness in the afternoon as the sun came blasting through the big balcony doors. The TV on the chair. The crap wardrobe I bought from Ikea that I always hated.
Somewhere along the lines of this independence I started meeting more people. And of course, women. That’s what it all comes down to, really. My male and female platonic friends may be offended by this, but it’s the ones that trip that magic wire in the lower chest that you forget last. In those years, those first years out of home, it got tripped up quite a bit.
And of course, like the river that finds the ocean and those other stupid clichés, there was one girl in particular.
You know, if I saw myself on that night, in those ten fateful minutes, I probably would have laughed at myself. I was walking up some stairs to a theatre where I was helping out for some function, after being heartbroken again by some girl who really didn’t mean anything at all. As a romantic, you have to be heartbroken on a regular basis. It’s like an asthmatic and insulin. And I was barely into the room I was I start telling my latest sad tale to an old friend, as there’s this other girl who is listening in…but not listening in. She’s just trying to set up too.
And she was just gorgeous. What a fool I am. My eyes kept going from looking at the person I was talking to, to the person I wanted to be talking to. So I spent the rest of the night trying to talk to this girl. And she was wonderful. I took care not to be too stupid. It could have been rebound I guess, but the months that followed disproved that. In any event, we became friends.
She had a boyfriend at this point. And when I found out, it brought me back to Earth pretty quickly. Spent a night playing the Beach Boy’s song “I Bet He’s Nice” over and over to no one, not even myself really. It was a bit like sticking your hands in a flame again and going “see, it didn’t hurt.” But it wasn’t long before she broke up with him, and the cast of characters in this little story became two.
I can still see her sitting at the apartment door as I rushed back to meet her one day, months later. I remember us in the living room, trying on jackets there before a night out, and her jokingly scolding me for not noticing the highlights in her hair. And finally, calling her, months later again, the night I was moving out from the balcony at night, after our relationship had burnt out.
Looking back, even though I wasn’t terribly happy living there, I don’t know why I had to move out. I think it was laid down upon me. The person I was living with couldn’t live with me anymore. In the music business they call this a creative difference. For me it was a bother and I moved on. And I smashed that stupid wardrobe all down the side street.
As for the girl, it ended when I realised that she didn’t love me and was never going to, and that I could never really trust her. It was like she was suddenly the enemy, and I questioned everything I did, everything she did, and searched for motives everywhere and in everything. What’s that song? We can’t go on together with suspicious minds. I didn’t want to be alone with this person anymore. It was time to pack that up and go too.
Do you know that opening scene in Truman Capote’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s? And I qualify it by author because it’s his novella I refer to. Where the men are worn out and lived in, drinking at the bar near the main character’s first apartment (unnamed in the book), and he starts talking to the old barman there and they talk of the girl they once knew. That’s the connection. The places you live and the people you knew when you lived there.
So far the rate of my life, the last 4 places I’ve lived in, I can always connect to a particular girl. Which I think was the point of Capote’s novel anyway. Reminiscing about apartments, like the one I had, above the pizza place, the convenient shop, near the Thai place and that theatre where I saw Darren Hanlon once. And how that will lead to thinking about love, unrequited or otherwise. I’m not even sure that part matters. The facts give way to the memories, and details fade to cloudy impressions of feelings once had.
It’s not a story of jewellery, a fantastic girl named Holly Golightly, that Moon River song. But the people you meet and the places you live and how they connect. How near the furniture shop on your street is where you tried to touch her hand, and how that awful colour of the doors will remind you of that girl with the prefect smile who knew all the right things to say.
I still walk by there sometimes. Never for too long. It’s like looking at old photos and I almost never keep photos of anything anyway.