The May visit was kind of depressing

You-know-who's been stumbling around upstairs again. She's going to renovate her unit--it will only take two weeks--and sell it as soon as she can. She's going to be very slective about the buyer, though, because she doesn't want to stick me with a bad neighbor.

Of course, she said the same thing in January. And February. And March.

Her latest renovation fever was sparked by a foreclosure notice. She told me she's renovating another unit in Medford, and that she's been sleeping there. I don't think she has the money to do anything with the upstairs apartment, but she doesn't want to give up and sell it as is, either. I haven't seen her boyfriend around, and she doesn't talk about her son anymore.

She's gone again now, but she did spend a few days in the unit, working into the night even though the apartment is still without electricity. She would leave the kitchen door open, and work in the feeble glow of the single bulb in the back hall 'till all hours, banging things around and throwing crap out of the windows.

Whenever I came home from work or from walking the dog or from running errands she would shout greetings and questions out the windows at me, scaring the hell out of me each and every time and making the dog bark.

"Does your dog always bark like that?" Except it came out Dwash shore dawghgh algrahwsh bruck lach dshaght?

I decide to be honest and say "Yes, she does." I decide not to be foolish and add what I'm thinking: Especially when crazy drunk people are yelling out the window of a dark apartment at us.

On the second night she asked me to come upstairs and look at the yellow tiled walls in the kitchen. She wanted my advice about what color to paint the cabinets. I tried to get out of it by telling her I was tired and going in for the night, but she kept talking to me from the second floor window and the dog kept barking up at her and I knew neither one of them was going to stop unless I came up.

So I picked my way past the plastic red cups filled with thick brown liquid (curdled Kaluha and creams?) that lined the stairs and walked past the growing pile of brown paper bags from the liquor store down the street, into the kitchen where she'd been letting her cigarette butts burn out on the linoleum floors and counters, leaving behind brown streaks that look like cockroaches in the gloomy light.

I stood and listened to her ramble on in her slurred voice. I held the dog in my arms so it wouldn't bark and wouldn't get into god knows whatever the hell might be in that apartment. I told her that the only color that goes with yellow is white, but she didn't believe me. I told her that she shouldn't paint over the old tiles and she changed the subject. She talked about a bird she has or once had and how that particular species of bird was the most intelligent animal in the world. Or something. It was pretty hard to understand her.

I stood in the dark kitchen listening to her slur her stories for a half an hour, maybe an hour. The whole time I stood there, leaning against the counter, my hand kept twitching toward the light switch, wanting to flip on the lights. And then I would remember that there was no electrictity and pull my hand back.

And I would listen to her talk for a while, until I forgot about the electricity. And then I would reach toward the light switch again.

After I left she worked for a while longer, stumbling around in the dark, throwing things out the window, and drinking herself to death. She stayed a couple more days after that. She tried to steal my weed wacker, but was too drunk to actually pull it off (Oh, dosh thish beloghgh to ghou?) so she had to bring it back downstairs again. She fell asleep in her car, which was parked outside the house. She left a bunch of cigarette butts on the walkway. She planted some flowers in the planter on the front porch. She parked in the driveway and blocked my car in. She made my dog bark some more. And then she disappeared again.

I kind of miss her.

OK, not really. But I do think I'm starting to feel bad for her. And I just wonder how long this can possibly go on ...

No comments: