A mouse hole within a decaying building. Concrete floors, A single layer of hand cut drywall, and an unfiltered bulb. Dirty, loud, and unsafe. The first night I slept here (in my sleeping bag on the floor) I felt the flakes of asbestos,lead paint chips, and splinters rain down from the ceiling as I could hear the neighbors fuck. I had no furniture. The seven others living in this four bedroom unit were complete strangers. This is where I would be living now. Empty and alienating.
It was perhaps for that reason I became immediately determined to fill it with myself. That which is clearly damaged and uninviting, yet which holds the potential to please has never failed to entice me after all.
Free and secondhand furniture recovered from craigslist free and the east bay depot gave me soft illumination, and a comfortable place to sit. A midnight bus venture across town to a random someone's porch granted me a free heater. Shitty as it was,constantly announcing its overheating with a jarring buzz, it certainly made the freezing room feel, for the first time, cozy.
After about a month, I even got my hands on a not too nasty mattress, and upgraded from the floor and sleeping bag combo. I had made it livable.
Then slowly, I began bringing all my treasures and personals from the place I used to call home. Beautiful persian rugs once gifted but not appreciated until I was on my own, and home was a new and scary place. Posters a loved one gifted to me, which her late mother had gotten for her when she was around my age. Video games I've been collecting since preschool. My bass, guitar, and amp arrived as well, ready to shake the drywall with our sound. Anime paraphernalia, t.v., zines,records, and too many books. Candles, stuffed animals, more posters. Multiple lamps to replace the overbearing, naked bulb with soft,warm, ambient lamps. The barren concrete and drywall now bore witness to a filled space. A lived in space. This place was now mine.
And even more so, as more than just my things began to fill the small,oddly shaped world. My messes filled the space with me. Clothes, tossed onto the floor without a second thought. Stacks of papers, hoarded until there was no place left to put them. Dirty dishes. Ciggarette butts. Stains.
My loved ones sometimes came to visit too. The walls reverberated with our laughter, music, stories, and thoughts. Witness to lives and memories shared, as precious as they are transient.
But that’s all changing now. Shifting from one place to another. This tiny room which once held it all--loneliness, precious things, new memories--was to be made empty once again. It took all the time of my living there to fill it with myself. Now, in just a few hours, it is all being shoved into boxes and leaving, never to return. I’m going. And so are my things. So are my friends. So is my “home.”
But maybe my memories can stay. Maybe a part of them will come along with me, to remind me of my shitty yet beautiful little room. And maybe a part of them will continue to live here. Stuck to the walls, soaked into the floor, and melded into the ceiling. Along with all the other lives that had been lived here before, watching over all the lives that will pass through after. Ghosts left behind, watching over a place once called home.