This Is Not My Beautiful House

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You didn't expect me to start squatting in you last August after our brief meeting a few months before at a party, me drunk and passed out on your air mattress, a friend of a friend. But there I was, setting up camp in the sunroom. You tried to accomodate me, and it was nice for awhile. Your built in cabinets and stained glass were charming. Your wood floors and brightly painted walls so amiable and cozy. I thought you were different, Apartment. I thought you were special.

It didn't last long; there were cracks. You shocked me by sporadically leaking all over my bed during thunderstorms. And "leaking" is the nice way of saying "Oozing Chicago city water through the roof and sodden plaster, leaving rusty, flaking stains on the ceiling." Oh how I hated the ceiling crumbs in my bed after it all dried a few days later. But I was willing to forgive. I did, afterall, have a habit of trailing coffee drips all over your floors. Tit for tat, yes? But then you hit me where it hurts. My books (my books!!) filled one of your cabinets, and you, for reasons I'll never understand, seeped that same disgusting goo all over them, topped with a dusting of mysterious powder that I can only imagine was a mixture of grout, dirt and asbestos. I want to believe you didn't see the next part coming, but I'll be damned if an alarming alien mold didn't begin to cover everything that had been spoiled by your leaks. There was an ugly fight. I said some terrible things. Our mutual friends didn't understand because you never treated them this way.

But by then it was winter and what was the use in going our seperate ways after all these months? Better together in hate than alone, we thought. Things quieted down between us.

And then a new low. Alone together one night, just enjoying the simple pleasures of hearth and home, I was distracted from my reading by the slightest motion. I know you didn't mean for me to see it and that made it worse. A rat stared at me from the kitchen doorway. How long had you been housing that bastard too, you whore? Don't even try to tell me that there was only one; i know how these things work, Apartment. Slut. I hope you've noticed my brazen Craigslist searches for someone far, far better than you. Oh, this one has a garbage disposal! And just think of all the things I could do with a BIG porch...

Apartment, we can't even say we had that great of a run. But now that the lease is up and our shaky peace is on the verge of being a memory, I'm struck with a perverse longing for those hangover days spent staring at your ceiling in the dark living room from the couch, Chinese food an arm's length away. Or standing alone on your back porch on a winter night watching the snow come down with a cup of tea and a cigarette. Your squeaky floorboards. Your view of the busy corner from my bedroom windows. It has given me no pleasure to list your crimes here (and I left out quite a few, didn't I?), but I'll always remember you as my first.

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