The place I used to live in, the last place I considered myself to be a truly self sufficient adult, was a weird one-and-a-half bedroom place on Hawthorne and 24th. You may have been to a cheese party there.
My bedroom was the old covered-over porch. The floor was slightly slanted and it was only wide enough for my double futon and a small nightstand. I had to walk through the other, more proper, bedroom to get to the rest of the apartment. If I needed to I could climb through the old porch windows into the living room.
The other bedroom was for my roommates, of which I had three. For one whole year my sister rented the room. Most of the time though, she was spending the night at her boyfriend's house. Once every couple months or so she would come home in a fit of tears and sit at the end of my bed and weep about a fight. I didn't mind, I figured a little free therapy once in awhile was the least I could do for a roommate that was never there.
My sister eventually moved out.
My next roommate was a medical student, an old friend from undergrad. She would get home after I'd already gone to bed and leave before I woke up in the morning. Sometimes, when she was around, we'd lay on the ground and look up at the ceiling and discuss boys and her job as an intern at the hospital. I was just beginning to have health problems and we would speculate on what could be wrong with me.
She moved away and I had to look for another roommate. I was hoping to find another medical student, but instead I found Pat, a guy who worked graveyard, cleaning the meat department at the New Season's where I worked. He looked like Peter Dinklage. When I told another coworker who my new roommate was she said, "The Oompa Loompa guy?"
"I think he's handsome!" I said.
Pat was a rock climber. He complained a lot about his ex-girfriend, how she wasn't supportive of his rock climbing, how he'd moved to Dublin, hell on earth, for her and what had she done for him? And now here he was working graveyard cleaning the meat department so he could rock-climb.
We talked a lot about relationships.
Pat and I's bathroom was in the hallway. Our neighbor had her own bathroom and I kept telling Pat that we didn't share a bathroom with her. But he never believed me. We would joke about the smells emanating from her apartment - never the same smell but always weird - a combination of two smells, like cigarette smoke and curry, or kitty litter and perfume. We kept a "smell log" on the wall on a clipboard so we could keep track of the different smells.
Pat witnessed my falling apart. The months I found out I had Cushing's disease. We would have long conversations about hormones and the endocrine system. He'd pull out his old biology textbooks and we'd talk about the pituitary gland.
One night I couldn't sleep. I was still awake when he came home at five in the morning. I heard him go to the fridge and then the familiar crack of a beer can.
"I can't sleep."
"Do you want a beer?"
I got out of bed and got a Pabst out of the fridge. I sat in a wooden chair with him in the living room and we clinked our beers together.
"Thanks," I said and took a swig.
"How are you doing?"
"To tell you the truth, I'm not doing so hot."
"I'm sorry," he said, grimacing a little.
"I feel bad that you have to hear about my stuff all the time. You're the one that's here so I tell you..." I said.
"No worries," said Pat.
Before I moved out, Pat had found a new girlfriend. One who was a rock climber. Her name was Marsha. Things seemed like they were getting pretty serious between them, pretty fast. I remember being worried that he'd want to move out before I was ready to move out. I had already told him that I was going to live with my parent's so I could save money before I moved to San Francisco for grad school. But that wasn't for at least another month.
I don't remember the last time I saw Pat. That period of my life get's a little muddy. As far as I know, someone else rents that apartment now.
I still think about that apartment and Pat and my friend, the medical student. It was the last place I lived that felt truly my own. I'm hoping that soon I'll be able to have my own place again.