Last Monday I got an email from Caroline. She had digitized some footage she’d shot in 1990 and 1991 when we lived together in a small studio apartment at the corner of Foster and Sheridan in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago.
I watched it a couple times and at first I kept thinking about how young I look and how long ago this was. I’m seventy pounds lighter, I’m wearing a watch, the bed is a mattress on the floor and isn’t made. It’s the North Side, a big apartment building with old-fashioned radiators. There’s an Abraham Lincoln lamp and an Elvis bust with Mardi Gras beads draped around its neck. Nothing like my life now.
But then I see the round Hammond clock, look up from the laptop and see it on my wall in Bridgeport. It’s stopped running again, maybe for good, but I still have it twenty-eight years later. The whistling Revere Ware tea kettle Caroline gave me is still on the stove, albeit across town, decades on. Though I don’t have that manual typewriter, I have a very similar one I use for many years now. My walls and sills are still full of knickknacks and in-progress paintings. This apartment isn’t much bigger than that one was.
I can’t see down the alley here but I look out at neighboring city buildings all the same. I can watch passersby out the window.
I have a lot bigger gut and it’s covered in tattoos but otherwise not very much has changed. Watching this old footage I recognize a lot more than I don’t. Not sure whether that should be surprising, disappointing, or something else.
I envy the metabolism of the guy in the movie but otherwise he’s a lot like me.