Marie texted Monday that she needed help. She was getting ready to rent out her second apartment upstairs and needed to get rid of a couch. I told her to give me a couple hours. Mondays are usually a late start because I bartend Sunday nights. It was a warm day, so I took the bike out and rode to get some breakfast in McKinley Park.
A few minutes after Marie, Brant texted that I could move into the ground floor of his worker’s cottage a few blocks away from my current place. The prospect of this move has been hanging over me since last July, when I went to see the place on the most humid day of that summer. It was cool down there even with no A/C on, it was a nice open-floor space, and it wasn’t on the third floor, so schlepping a couple dozen boxes books would be a lot less painful. I was sold. But then nothing happened. I’d bug Brant every few weeks but he and his wife were planning major repairs and didn’t want me settled in only to have life disrupted by the clatter of a rebuild. I’ve been off lease at my place for over four years, so there was no great urgency, but as the months passed it started to gnaw at me. So I gave Brant and Rozzie a deadline and within a week they gave me a move-in date. It was like a great weight vanishing. What felt like a holding pattern now had a definite direction. I’ll be in my new place in May. This is what I was thinking about as I pedaled west.
At 31st and Western I caught the bike lane west and stayed on as it bent past the jail and the criminal courts building, then into Douglas Park, further west until I hit Independence Boulevard. I took that north until it turned back into Hamlin and stopped across from Garfield Park at Marie’s. She’d asked me to help design and print some for-rent flyers a few weeks back,sending me some photos I assumed were stock footage. But when I asked if she wanted them replaced, she laughed and said they were pictures of the actual apartment. Now I can confirm she was telling the truth: the place looks more or less like her photos.
We unscrewed the legs from the sofa and pushed it to the back door. I angled it onto its side, then, with some effort, squeezed it out onto the landing. While Marie carried the cushions down to the dumpster, I maneuvered the sofa down the first flight of stairs, then stood it up and pivoted it to point it down the next flight. On the second floor landing I was huffing and puffing. This was too much work for a thing going in the trash, so I asked Marie to make sure the coast was clear down below and tipped the thing over the railing. It landed with a dull thud, seemingly intact. It was the first piece of large furniture I’ve ever thrown off a balcony. It was a load off, not unlike having a move-in date after nearly a year of waiting.
We dragged it out the back gate and positioned it on the edge of the vacant lot that borders the alley behind Marie’s building. It’s strange to see a piece of indoor furniture outdoors like this. Out of context. But in my mind I could see people sitting on the sofa out here, making this lot, where a house once stood, back into a living room. We went back upstairs and I changed a lightbulb in the rental unit that Marie couldn’t reach. We struggled with a curtain which had wobbly screw, to no avail. Then, a woman arrived to look at the place. I went down to Marie’s place to hang out with the dogs while she showed the apartment. She told me she had a good feeling about the woman when she came down a few minutes later.
I won’t have any furniture to throw out my third floor windows, but will have lots of artwork I’d rather not bring to the new place. So if you ever wanted one of my pictures, this is the time. No reasonable offer will be refused. Hell, most unreasonable offers won’t be refused either.
Drop me a line.
—I illustrated an essay about intimacy problems and Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as one about as one about LA and early 20th century composer George Antheil.