Goodnight, 15 Maple

03Jun09

A few remembrances, in honor of the apartment I’ve left behind.

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1) I remember the first day I was in 15 Maple. Not the first time I saw it – that was a different thing, in which Ryan, Collin and I drove from Durham to Dover and went up to the apartment to talk to Dan, our friend who lived there already, and Jim, the landlord. That time, we sat around awkwardly in the living room, with its one, rotting, old couch and collection of folding TV trays, and made jokes about living together while Jim grumpily explained the terms of the lease and ignored us.

No, the first time I was really there, alone, getting a feel for the place, I had driven over to drop some things off in order to get a head start on moving. Dan was at work and the other roommates were off at class or otherwise occupied, so I was by myself in the empty apartment. I went into what was to be my bedroom, and I put my things down and exhaled and sat in a wooden chair that had been left behind by the last occupant. I sat there in the silence. I felt at that moment like I was at the beginning of something important, at least in so far as it related to the arc of my life experience. This was my first real apartment, my first time living, really and truly, on my own, my first shot at making my way in the world. This was adult life. This was it.

I looked at the empty white walls, and out the bay windows, and tried to imagine scenarios, the myriad ways that things might work out over the course of the next year. Would the four roommates become closer friends? Would we grow apart? What trials and tribulations would we be forced to endure? Would we become in some way newly recognizable as adults by the end? Arriving at no real answers on my own, I tried to internally engineer a thought or a feeling fitting for the moment, something that, although false, I’d at least be able to fondly remember thinking later on, when I had moved on and had perspective on the whole experience. I concentrated as hard as I could, gritting my teeth, furrowing my brow, but what I produced was not a life-defining epiphany as much as it was a situation in which I nearly pooped my pants from misdirected effort. I went to the bathroom.

I sat on the toilet with my pants around my ankles and continued thinking, trying to at least imagine something meaningful that I could later claim that I had thought at that moment. It was then that I heard the door slam.

I looked at the door to the bathroom. The knob was smooth, gray metal. No lock. Stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp. I only know one person with strides that long and that heavy. I instinctively grabbed for the door knob, perhaps crying out softly, just as the door was ripped violently open, the force so great that it was nearly taken off its hinges.

Ryan Kelly, clad in a black hoodie and jeans, a messenger bag over his shoulder. His eyes were crazed and wide, like gleaming silver dollars. His mouth fell open and twisted into a nightmare carnival grin.

“HEY, FAGGOT! FUCKING FIFTEEN MAPLE, BITCHES! SUCK IIIITTTTTT!”

“Hey, Ry.”

“SUCK MY DIIIIIIICCCKKKKKK!”

He slammed the door shut and the wind from its momentum nearly knocked me backwards off the toilet seat. I grabbed a fistful of toilet paper for my ass and, as I deposited that shit-covered wad, the epiphany I had been seeking fell, figuratively, into my lap.

I was home.

2) I would like to say that there were no low points, but there were. Peaks and valleys, I suppose, like anywhere else. I’d say the difference between your standard valley and a 15 Maple valley, however, is in regards to the sheer alcohol consumption. To put it in a more flowery, literary way: even in the darkest night, at 15 Maple, you could always pick out the glimmer of tiny, alcoholic stars in the distance.

I’m referring to the Great Seacoast Ice Storm of 2008-2009 here; I can’t remember what month in particular it happened in, because winters (and especially ones as spiritually crushing as this year) blend together in my recollection. But for the sake of reminiscence, let’s say that the Ice Storm hit in the bleakest depths of a New Hampshire January – that time of year in which you’re suddenly no longer sure if winter is a season or just the way things are.

The Ice Storm hit, and within a day or two, the near-constant precipitation covered the power lines and the roads equally. Travel was a nightmare, and power went out, essentially, in every town in the region. Now, I think everyone’s had power outages from time to time, regardless of where they’re from, but it’s rare to find anybody who’s really prepared, emotionally and intellectually, for a power outage that lasts for days at a time during the coldest, most treacherous part of winter. Everything that we’re used to, every modern convenience, goes away.

It gets cold. It gets dark. There is nothing to do. Laptops and cellphones run out of battery within a few hours. The seemingly endless well of conversational topics runs dry much quicker than you’d think. The refrigerator warms, food goes bad and has to be thrown out. You shower by candle light.

I remember being particularly down in the dumps at this point; we lost power at 15 Maple for somewhere around two days. In retrospect, this doesn’t sound especially bad, but at the time it felt like the single-worst ordeal of my life. My car was in the shop, so I was riding the bus to and from work, and Marissa’s leg and arm were broken, so she was hobbling around and unable to do a whole lot of things for herself. And it was cold, and it was dark, and we had to sit around and deal with it.

In other situations, I imagine, people might’ve gone insane. People might’ve watched themselves helplessly slip into abject misery. What did we do at 15 Maple? We all sat in one room, pooled body heat, and got fucking wasted. Great success!

I arrived somewhere around mid-morning, transported by Ryan Gray in his Escalade on 22’s, with the aforementioned broken Marissa in tow. We walked into the living room and found the following:

1) Drunk Carney

2) Drunk Ryan

3) Drunk Lipka

4) Star Wars Trivial Pursuit

It smelled bad, even by that early point in the day – as if someone had gone and tested an air freshener scented with stale High Life and ass. All of our food had gone bad. Nothing worked. But you know what? Everyone was happy. It was maybe the most miserable time in my recent adult life, and yet, I remember spending most of the day not cold and sad and stationary, but laughing my ass off at Carney trying to string together coherent sentences like his lower jaw hadn’t gone numb.

I would be remiss if I didn’t transcribe my mental picture of the most memorable part of that night, when more people arrived, and here it is – we have a lantern perched on the ceiling fan, and it’s lighting the room in this weird, florescent gray glow, so that everyone looks somehow half-real, like film from a camera that hasn’t been fully developed. We look like the old negatives of ourselves. And there are people crammed on the couch, and the recliner, on folding wooden chairs dragged in from other rooms. There are dozens of empty bottles and cardboard beer boxes and crushed beer cans littered around the room. And on the loveseat, flanked by two women I have never seen before, lording over the proceedings like some inebriated tribal warlord, is Mr. Josh Lipka, naked as the day he was born.

“Well, well, well,” he says to me. “What do we have here?”


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2 Responses to “Goodnight, 15 Maple”

  1. 1 You Suck

    This sucked

  2. 2 Ryan

    don’t forget, it was at 15 maple where the world realized what a formidable force Scalabrine is on the court. He’s like the white larry bird.
    SCALABRINE!


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