I wish I had pictures, but they’ll all in my mind. My apartments over the years represent the many lives I’ve led. And, in this introspective time while there’s a pandemic and I’m working on overhauling my current, it helps to reflect on how many lives I’ve already led.
Let me admit up front that I don’t like reflection. I’m an intuitive, impulsive doer. But hey, even 63 is not too late to start adding a bit of thoughtful slow-downism, if only for balance.
So, the picture above is a stylized version of my current place. Stylized to make it cute, because it is a stone cold mess, and must be dealt with.
Anyway, prior apartments. Let’s see. There was the derelict ‘artist’s garret’ I somehow managed to rent with my first real boyfriend, Jonanthony Williams, he of the voluminious afro, gorgeous face, and cheating ways. It was somewhere in the Bronx, and I still don’t know quite how we managed to hold onto with our tiny teenage salaries. We filled it with easels and paintings. It offered us rats (maybe they were contributing to the rent? they were big enough), a surprising lack of filth, broken pieces of furniture, and so on. That place could only be illuminated by the power of utterly dopey teenage hormones. I don’t think any significant art was produced, and have no idea whether my delicious, treacherous paramour is still in the land of the living or not. So I can’t even ask. He was the guy who introduced me the features of my face, and bade me fall in love with my perfect nose. He was the leader, and I was the rapturously led. But even in the throes of this craziness, the nascent critical me was still judging every interaction, sure it would make for good fodder down the road.
I was a reckless sort, wanting to experience the lives my religious folks tried to shield me from.
Apartment two was a shared communal space in the East Village, filled with countercultural folks and the acoutrements thereof. I got into the group with my contribution to bail for one of our number, a very hairy guy who had decided to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and had been persuaded against the idea by New York’s – well, not finest, but that’s what we had at the time. So Jim sat in jail, and we banded together to get him out and bring him back home. A huge pot of meat and potato and vegetable stew was waiting for him, and us, when he came back. We were an apartment-renovating collective and that part of the East Village needed us desperately. I learned about putting up sheetrock, helping someone come down when they had gotten entirely too high, the various lore of the various folks I lived with, how to navigate counterculture evenings and weekends with my day job at as a music contract administrator if you can believe it.
That apartment comes back to mind as smells, intense visuals, like the found art piece above the fireplace, all of us freaks flying our flags high as we ventured out to see the Allman Brothers, rescuing young teens who were trying to survive over on the west side, cleaning them up and getting some of the ubiquitous stew down their throats.
The next apartment was close to the first one, my hubby – from the group – and I moved across from Thompkins Square park, where we proceeded to go through a long, long, break up, although we didn’t know it. There was a tiny place in the same area where I kind of tried to recover with other friends who were exploring lots of different ways to alter minds.
That whole time was, a lot.
Hmph. I got kind of emotional working through these memories. I have a bunch more apartments, but I’ll stop here for now, and pick up the ball tomorrow.