I am at war with my apartment.
With the leaky faucets and the washing machine.
With the hair strands – a perpetual purgatory.
They fight my merciless vacuum in vain,
Ant trails against the pale tiling.
I am at war with the shower and it’s mismarked knobs and the wailing pipes
and the useless bidet that occupies the corner where a toilet should be.
I am at war with the lopsided bedsheets.
With the Type C sockets.
With the windows that overlook the courtyard
That I have to keep open to air out the humidity.
And then there’s the coffee machine, neglected
With several days’ (months’? years’?)
Worth of stains on the pot lid.
I scrub away the abuse as if I were coming to the aid of a BP-hit duck.
Then I run it several times under the tap in the too-narrow sink.
White again – a rebaptism, if you will.
I’ve lived in places like this before
Apartments that change hands several times a year.
When was the last time someone had lived here long enough to care?
You live somewhere else
A student studio
Fifteen meters squared,
Your aesthetic: blue
Something like a cross between a monk’s cell and a hotel room.
What else is there to do but leave those thin white walls bare?
What your apartment lacks in problems mine makes up for in character.
Flowers and flags and postcards from Albuquerque
My proprietor’s tastes are vibrant, eclectic,
But clearly not my own.
You’d think I’d be used to this by now.
People and places with missing pages and hidden histories.
You don’t come into a person’s life on page one
And we are far from virgin territory.
Try not to imagine the girls who came before me.
The other bodies who cried and loved and slept
Also with you,
Under these same sheets.
I’ve agonized in the shadow of comparison
Over a time that I have never known,
A time that is no longer relevant.
BCE – Before Common Era
(Before You Knew Me).
I remember this feeling, my teary confession one of those early nights:
I feel like your apartment.
Another face for the next girl to excavate.
To be cleared and gutted for the next passing resident
Unlike my apartment, which proudly wears its dilapidated history
Instead: anonymous, nomadic, temporary.
I no longer dwell. Not the way I used to.
Now I look ahead, to a life post-Paris,
To a life in an another city.
I’m getting ahead of myself here, when I say that
We’ll find each other again
I don’t care where
New York maybe.
Dog-ear this prologue-past.
We’ll be pioneers together,
Leave this fallow land in search of virgin soil.
Together we’ll battle those leaky faucets and wailing pipes
Discover mortgages and diaper rash
And other uncharted territory.