1.) The first night in my new apartment, the idea of having a permanent residence again was all it took to thrill me. I inflated my air mattress, and made the bed. I unpacked my clothes and stacked my books underneath the windowsills (no bookshelf). I plugged in my laptop and connected to the wireless, and then I pulled my hair into a quick ponytail and ran down the stairs. (I have stairs! Like in early ’90s family sitcoms!) “So, uh, nice meeting you, again!” I called to my new roommates. “See ya later!”
“Leaving already? K, . . . bye!”
And I don’t even remember what I did that night. Several things, one hundred. Maybe I watched Tool Academy at Tamar’s and ate mint ice cream. Maybe I walked the Minuteman alone, staring up at the dimly-lit leaves, passing the playground where a former love and I used to swing. Maybe I made out on the porch of someone new, or maybe I snuck my wet laundry into your basement. I don’t know, life has been crazy. But somehow it didn’t occur to me to return until two in the morning. Braden and Josh, responsible professionals that they are, had already been asleep for hours, and I tiptoed up our back staircase like a cartoon thief. “Tee hee,” I thought, taking my heels off at the door and walking barefoot in the dark, “I am sixteen years old. And bad news.”
I stopped in front of my bedroom, turned the handle.
Or, tried to turn the handle. It choked, resisted, clack-clacked.
2.) My first thought:
“Shit. There’s nothing for it. I’ll have to break the door.”
My second thought:
“How much do doors cost, anyway? And what do I need? A machete? A gun? Will it be loud?”
My third thought:
“I could just sleep on the living room couch and deal with this in the morning.”
My fourth thought:
“. . . Didn’t I leave a window open?”
3.) Dear roommates, this is why I locked the cat into the third floor bathroom shower:
See, I didn’t want him to follow me onto the roof ledge, when I opened the window as wide as it would go and took twenty deep breaths, staring into the barren night. I didn’t want him nudging past me either, pushing against my sweaty palm as I carefully stuck one foot out after the other. I didn’t want to hear his curious meows, those infernal questioning chirps as I clung to the gutter, pressed my body against the shingles to my side, ripped my shirt against their gravel to cry out “KEEP GOING KEEP GOING.” (Dear roommates: I wasn’t always this way. There was a time I actively sought out heights; I climbed stop signs as a kid, slept in the treehouse, snapped on rubber gloves and clambered to the roof of our suburban rambler to dip my hands into the rotting autumn muck of our gutters and throw it handful by sticky handful into our yard. I hung upside-down, swung too high, creaked metal beams and skidded on pavement. But that is when I was younger. You know how it is. We were unparalyzed then.)
But christ, to my credit, I made it. It was only five feet or so of this narrow ledge before I arrived, clawing and gasping, at the other side of the house, where the roof sprawls wide and flat beneath my bedroom window and I could pull my broken screen up and crawl inside, covered in tar dust.
So I may have woken you up then, toppling the books so carefully stacked under my windowsill. Then my right foot caught a picture frame in the corner, sent it hurling to the ground. That was just inconsiderate. Or maybe it was when I cried “YES! O FUCKING SHIT! I TOTALLY JUST DID THAT!”
At any rate, I thought it’d be nice to free the cat from the shower, but when I did he promptly ran into my room and jumped out the open window and onto the roof. Ha!
4.) For my future progeny:
5.) A few days later my friend Caro stopped by to help me move some final boxes. “So THEN!” I told her, “I climbed in the window, and twisted the door from the inside, and voila, unlocked. Guess I’ll have to be more careful about pushing that button in, because if I need to risk my life one more time just to sleep on a goddamn air mattress I’m going to be so pissed off.”
“Uh . . . Adrianne?” Caro said. “See this little hole on the outside doorknob? Here, let me see if I have a bobby pin on me.”