This place feels familiar, I think, in the same way I connect to the silent gestures of the person who lives here. Ikea furniture, matching sheets, off the shelf living. Not quite anonymous, it all feels lived in, but only just, in that way where some apartments function as places to work and sleep but not to eat. I have only rarely been here, and never alone, but I understand. How it was chosen and created, how it came together – the underpinnings of decision, of an entire person, laid out in a cluttered blast. Like most living spaces, it is the best sort of map. Tech casual, male, young adult, somewhere in their thirties. Clever, dependable, very little struggle, not a lot of travel, but enough to have some stories. There are some framed prints leaning against the wall, (probably line art or something Japanese), but half buried behind papers and other detritus, and very few actual decorations.
And so, curious, I look around. I see. An instrument case under the kitchen table, thinly coated in a breathy envelope of neglect, and an electric piano, folded with a basic black stand, equally unused, translate into a desire to be musical, likely long passed. I pick up a book, one of the many casually piled next to the bed, (on the other side, an empty wine glass that I, for no particular reason, believe to have been left there by somebody else), and note that it has been read, but not dog-eared, which I like, because it’s the precise observation I expected and it’s sometimes nice to be right. The whole place is like that, down to the toiletries in the washroom, (the correct, responsible array, but with too much dust on the multivitamins, I’m sure the bottles are still full), and the programs on the laptop, (expensive, a macbook, no stickers).
It makes me comfortable, but wary. I wonder at the wisdom of this visit. I like these places. I like the people who live in them. But. There is a proposal here, an offer yet unspoken, dreadful and heavy, laced with a false, Proustian nostalgia for a life I never had a chance to lead, “where feelings of tenderness would always be reciprocated”. Not quite a lie, it rests in the back of my skull like an entertaining artifact from an imaginary era, something to dismantle and examine and potentially loathe.
We sit on the polished cement floor by the gas fireplace, turned on with a switch, click, and ignore the obvious question for more prosaic pursuits. I confirm my theories like dominoes, with only a few charming surprises, (which I also like), and gently offer too much history, the most toned down form of my best defense strategy: tragedy, violence, a childhood of poverty and occasional terror. Out of your league, it offers, a way to make a polite escape dipped in sad anecdotes of senseless destruction and death. An excuse for abdication, withdrawal without judgement. Usually this is the cue, exit stage left, pursued by bears, but instead it all diffused in the air, accepted.
I had wondered at myself while walking to meet him, why was I there? It’s not like I had hope, even as I delighted in his company, but perhaps this was it, what I unconsciously expected: this gloriously uncomfortable acceptance. Superficial, possibly, and weak tea, but honest. Trust. Staying would hurt me, ruin me more, a proposition which under the circumstances I could not even pretend to accept, yet the visit was a feast. Within my boundaries, freedom. I woke up feeling absolutely amazing. All I needed was a break. There has been no one left alive to bear my weight.