There are seagulls who like to stalk and squat along the crown of the building opposite. When I first saw them out of the corner of my eye I thought they were workers busy on the roof. These guys don’t work. They fold down in their feathers in all kinds of weather and stare at each other. Just now one was fluffing himself, scratching under his wings, and as he wiggled and settled a single white feather fell from his underplumage. It spun slowly downward, fluttering in a tight spiral with the point down, past the office windows of people absorbed in what they’re doing at their desks. It hovered for a long time before falling out of sight below the second floor.
And the dull white sky behind him and the cold dull smell from the open window reminds me of home, or my imagined home, where I always feel a few seconds ahead of real time, like life is un-buffered. Where I cannot forget that everything is only happening and will only have ever been happening right now, and even as I say that it is no longer true. It’s unbearable.
Still I love waking up in a thick fog. It cuts down distances between things.
Last night Apartment 12 had a nasty fight with John again. I was pathetic and a little drunk and bored and lonely and so I opened my front door to the hallway, where her voice was as sharp as if she was standing next to me. In my bedroom it’s more of a round echo, which is more annoying than anything, because I can’t hear the words, but my brain can’t disconnect from the fact that a human voice is there. At least in the hallway I could hear everything.
John, foolish John, had made plans to go out with someone. A woman. A woman who, I suppose he swore, meant nothing to him and he would never see again, but he really wanted to go say goodbye to her. #12 couldn’t believe that John, stupid John, didn’t see how shady it was. He wouldn’t even invite his girlfriend? How can she trust him if he won’t even invite her to things like that?
“Well, if that’s what you think about it, John, then it’s fine. It’s fine. If that’s what you think. But I will never forgive you. My heart will never forgive this.”
“NO. THIS IS NOT A FIGHT. WE ARE NOT FIGHTING, JOHN. JOHN! JOHN! JOHN! JOHN! WHAT did you just say to me? What? I can’t hear you. NO, WE ARE NOT FIGHTING.”
That was about the size of it from 9:30 until past 10. She kept oscillating between reminding him of the unforgivable sin he had attempted and was still plotting, and then letting him know it was fine and they weren’t fighting about it.
Then he threw down the gauntlet. He proposed to take a shower.
“You’re going to take a SHOWER? What?”
For the next hour, it went like this: John desperately tried to get off the phone, but heeded #12’s warnings not to hang up on her. He didn’t want to fight. “THIS ISN’T A FIGHT, JOHN,” she yelled.
Then #12 decided she wanted to shower. She wanted to get cute so she could come over and talk it out with John in person. So he was going to shower, and then she was going to shower, and she was going to come up there and talk it out.
But a curious thing happened: despite how adamant #12 was that she was going to get dressed and come out there, she also needed him to tell her that she was indeed coming to see him. Every sentence was either “I’m coming out there,” or “am I coming out there?” And John would not answer the question.
Here, my loyalties forked: I could understand why someone like John, who didn’t seem terribly intelligent, poor man, would just want to get off the phone and do precisely anything that was not continuing this fight. At that point he probably would have rather boil himself in an infinite shower than keep treading water in the manipulative mire of the fight-that-was-not-a-fight (except when, conveniently, #12 told John that she couldn’t believe he would rather fight with her—ah, she admitted the fight—for an hour, rather than just invite her over. It was his choice, and he was being shady.) But I also wondered why John, presumably an adult, couldn’t just grow a pair of something and tell her not to come over. Or tell her to come over. Or just answer the question. For over a half hour they continued the bizarre shower-decision dance.
“Answer the question, John,” I started chanting under my breath in concert with 12. Plus, for obvious reasons, I was very much hoping that she would just shower and go so someone else in some other hallway could listen to the yelling.
Eventually I couldn’t hear what transpired, and next thing I knew 12 was sobbing in great loud wails. And after a few minutes she quieted down, and that was the end of that.
Every time she is loud at night I think it’s the last straw and next time I will go knock, or just pound a fist on the shared wall, or slip a really cutting note under the door. This time, the note would have read: “You guys need to break up. For all our sakes. And shut up.” But I didn’t. Of course. I just texted my own lover, with whom I never fight, with whom I rarely talk.