living situations: bright college years, 1993-1997

sept. 1993 - may 1994: bingham hall, new haven, ct.

I met my best friend and first love on the third day of school, or night I guess - dancing outside in the grass. I can't remember now our first encounter, although later that night he participated in a small orgy during the course of which he had sex with my roommate, who hated me for the rest of the year for what would come after. Later his roommate told me that they had seen me before that, walking around in my platform boots, spray-painted silver, with my hair at the time more or less the color of a rotting pumpkin. No doubt if I had gone to Brown I would have been pre-med - I seem to like to do the wrong thing.

 

may - august 1994: 220 park street, new haven, ct.

I loved John. John loved everyone. It made for a fraught summer, of which I remember mostly specific episodes, emerging from a generalized haziness. Our friend Dave came over and made a stir-fry with hash - I was sick for three days. Fresh-vegetables-in-a-third-world-country kind of sick. Later I heard he had joined the Israeli army as a tank commander. One night several of us sat on the stoop and a man walking by stopped to sell us a steak and some ribs. They bought the steak; for some reason they didn't want the ribs. On the roof of the Elmhurst I kissed someone's friend, a tepid young man who wanted to move to Pittsburgh to start a furniture store, and who spent much of our time together in a tirade against badly made sofas and the people who buy them. Which apparently is most people. John turned his first tricks in the bathroom of the undergraduate library, and bought me a $12 necklace from a street vendor with the proceeds. I still have it somewhere - it has grown sticky for some reason, and tarnished.

 

august 1994 - january 1995: 91 howe street, new haven, ct.

Three or four days a week I spent in New York, where John was auditioning for commercials and movies and working at two residential hotels. The one on the corner of 31st and Lexington was called the Rutledge, dubbed the Ratlodge on account of its pleasing squalor. One of the long-term tenants lived in a tiny room full of cats and ceiling-high piles of scavenged items. At one point one of the kittens got stuck in the wall - I heard it mew through the bathroom vent. For some reason we called Colin, a short, muscular, long-haired guy who slept with men for money and claimed to be saving up for a brownstone in which he would someday live with one of the many sexy female models he claimed to date. He came out, clad only in a towel, unscrewed the vent and rescued the kitten. Not that returning to the old lady’s room was such a happy fate, I suppose. Meanwhile, everyone did ecstasy with Mike and fell in love.

 

january - may 1995: the oxford, new haven, ct.

John lived on Goffe Street with Mike and Nicole. At this point no one was shooting up yet. One night in February he called me to tell me the house was on fire. I ran a mile through the empty midnight streets and snow. Apparently a phone had somehow set the couch alight. The crack-head super ran up and down the stairs yelling. At some point Mike went to New York to visit his rich girlfriend and never came back. When we moved out of the apartment I threw our unwanted dining room chairs from the second-story windows into the street.

 

june - august 1995: avenue a between 9th and 10th sts., new york, ny.

For four months it continued - through my move with her to New York, through the long broke humid airless summer when we slept on the same futon and made flan in the rice cooker when her mother brought us two-dozen eggs, and we both hated eggs. It ended in late September, though not abruptly - just dwindled away. They broke up somewhere in that time, before or after. I have pictures of the two of them, each individually, at an art opening we went to during those months. She sits against the wall; he stands, leaning on a stack of chairs. There is a greenish cast to both pictures, and a certain vagueness.

 

september - december 1995: above the crown-high deli, new haven, ct.

My room had seven windows, and we couldn't afford the heat. We covered them in plastic but it didn't help, so we closed off that part of the apartment and lived more or less in the living room with two space heaters, taking turns sleeping on the orange velour sofa. I sleep on it sometimes now in New York, my beautiful old friend. The day John dropped out of school I watched him shoot up at his desk, and then I gently dropped his pet rats out the first-floor dorm room window. He couldn't take them home to Florida but didn't know what to do, was growing hysterical. We heard later that they had found their way back into the building and lived peaceably in the basement, growing fat on dining hall fare. I would have done anything to spare his pain.

 

january - may 1996: above the law office on whitney ave., new haven, ct.

I was anemic, and someone told me that raisins had a lot of iron. I ate a lot of raisins. One freezing winter night the power went out - I went to bed swaddled in coats and hats, convinced I would be dead by morning.

 

june - august 1996: my father's house, silver spring, md.

I went home to have surgery, and John came to stay and look after me before going to Air Force basic training in Biloxi. On Father's Day my father was away, but he gave us $20 to go out to dinner. John wanted steak, and drove us to a restaurant called The Golden Bull, the kind of restaurant that qualifies as fancy in the poor part of town solely on account of its prices. The cavernous main room was filled with the most fucked-up looking families: mothers half worn away, fathers who had tried but not quite succeeded at reassembling themselves from brokenness for what might have been the one day a year they spent with their children. We only had enough money for one steak dinner; I ate the potato.

 

september 1996 - may 1997: 1212 chapel st., new haven, ct.

We tied the microphone to a floor lamp and played guitar all night.

 

- Kliene Fliege