Friday, May 28, 2010

story: it got me thinking

I lived in a cute little apartment at 18th and Main Street in and around 1995. It was on the second floor of a big old house and organized like a railroad flat in New York City. Super narrow with room after room in a chain. I liked that. You entered in the kitchen and if you made a right you would hit the tiny little living room and then 3 steps forward, remembering to step over this weird step you would be in the bedroom. The living room had room enough for 2 comfy chairs, so entertaining was limited but not impossible. From the kitchen if you made a left you would be in the bathroom. All the rooms had a window except the bathroom so it felt bright and airy. I painted my bedroom dark brown. My living room was beige with burnt red trim and the kitchen and bathroom were baby blue. I had a claw footed tub which was really the clincher for renting it. I was delighted to live there. Prior to this I had had roommates and this place was all mine!

Now, I didn't really know many of the neighbours. Sure, I said hello if I saw someone in the hallways, but that was seldom. For me, this was perfect. I had this idea of anonymity, it was what I was looking for. You see, when I wasn't at home I was on the road, in a rock band. This was a time in my life when sometimes up to 10 months would be spent in a van, loading or unloading gear or at a motel. Of course a small percentage was the stage performance but all things considered, this didn't take much time. We had A LOT of fun but I was always around people, even our motel was shared. I was lucky since my band mates and tour manager were my friends, but being a kind of independent person who likes their down time… touring was a challenge.

With this new apartment came a new sensation…the magic of closing the apartment door and knowing it would only be me.

One of the few times I was back in Vancouver, I came up the front steps, checked my mailbox and opened the shared door to the entrance hallway. I was met with a bit of a bad smell. As I walked up the stairs it got a little worse, and more so as I walked down my hallway. I was a little nervous to open my apartment door. But when I did and went inside the smell was almost indiscernible. Apartment hallways often had strange smells, so I guess because of this I didn't worry too much about it.

The next morning however, as I left my apartment, the smell was much worse. The odour hit me hard in face. It was the kind of a smell I had never experienced. Was it mold? Was it garbage?

When I returned the smell again seemed worse, so I decided to call the landlord. We chatted about the kind of smell it was and wondered if a rat or a cat had died in the walls. Hmmm. I certainly didn't like the sound of a rat, but the idea that it could be someone's cat made me sad.

The next morning there was a kerfuffle in the hallway. When I peeked out my door I saw a whole fleet of men in hazmat suits…and the door to my neighbours apartment was open. A woman who lived in the floor above, the most prestigious apartment since it was the biggest and at the top, told me I should come to her house to hang out.

Very mysterious and definitely not on my solo agenda.

She introduced herself as Maryann and made me a cup of tea. She was older than I was and her place reflected this advantage over me. The view from her window was spectacular.

“Do you know the guy in the apartment opposite of you?” she asked

“Not really” I said. “I've seen him collect his mail once, but that's it”.

“Well, he died in his apartment and that's what's been smelling up this place for weeks.” she told me.

“Weeks?” I asked

“He was in there for 2 weeks… “ then with a change in her voice she added “No one called him. No one came by. No one missed him.”

This of course got me thinking. How long could I be dead and alone before someone missed me? People who knew me, knew my hermit practices. If I died people would just assume I was antisocial!

Well, I would like to wrap this story up in a tight bow and explain how I immediately changed my ways and welcomed friends and family into all parts of my life at all times. Change doesn't happen so quickly for me.

But it got me thinking.

by lisa g
inspired by The Columbia House

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