MY HOUSE, 1995-1999
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA/BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
seem to remember those houseguests that cooked me food, did their dishes,
didnt stay forever, and didnt wear all my clothes. The weird
ones, the nightmare ones, the really funny ones, the ones I didnt
even know who just sort of showed up, those are the ones who always come
to mind. The following is a review of five people who have stayed with
me for anywhere from one night to six months in the last five years.
1. I got home at five am to a skinny old rocker with a beer gut cuddled
up with a blonde woman on a single mattress on the floor of my bedroom.
Id never seen the man, the woman or the mattress in my life but
I was a little drunk and I figured that they must be someones friends
or how could they have gotten into my room and found my old sleeping bag.
It turned out that beer gut mans whole band was staying at my house
and he and his wife just wanted some privacy so they ducked into the only
empty room, mine. I found all this out after they woke me up at 9 am while
they argued over where to go to breakfast. At this point I kind of gave
up on sleeping and followed them into my living room. The rest of the
band had gotten a 12-pack of Budweiser cans and were sitting on my couch
in the morning sun.
A creepy shirtless gut man I didnt even know waking me up in the
morning after a night of heavy drinking wasnt working for me at
all. Like most things in my life, the band from Portlands visit
started out weird and uncomfortable and confusing and ended up to be a
really good story. If I could sum up their two day stay in one image it
would be this: me, gut man, his wife and band all in our tight black stretch
rocker jeans spread across two couches, drinking beers for breakfast in
the sun talking about gas stations and sound guys and snack food.
2. Wendy was the kind of person that before you lived with her, you thought
she was one of the most amazing people youd ever met. Shes
the kind of person who is your roommate and then decides that she needs
to move out right away so she packs up her stuff, stops paying rent, moves
out of her room and stays in the living room for four months as a guest
while she looks for a place. Shes a tornado. She changes
her clothes ten times a day, leaving the discarded outfits all over the
entire apartment. She borrows everyones stuff, especially expensive
clothing or favorite magazines, without asking and then ruins them and
throws them back on your floor when shes done. Shes creative.
She decorates the house for you. But in doing so, she gets glue on the
carpet, terrorizes the cat, and dirties every dish in the kitchen.
I am in awe of her abilities. Ive never met anyone like her in my
life. When shes staying with you, she takes over every inch of space.
When she stayed with me, I was completely caught up in her spell but at
the same time I found myself trying to figure out ways to get her deported.
3. The Sleepy House on Market Street was huge and we had people staying
over all the time. In the middle of one of our big parties, a girl passed
out in the middle of the main hallway. We asked around and found out that
she was a friend of our friend Sascha. At the end of the night we couldnt
seem to move her so we left her there and went to our rooms to sleep.
At some point in the middle of the night, she got up and wandered into
Eriks room. As he told it, she woke him up by walking in circles
around his room clapping her hands. Sascha told us later that she has
The Clapper at her house and she was just trying to turn the lights on.
When Erik asked her what she was doing, she growled at him and wandered
out of the room, still clapping. Then she went into Corrinas room,
where Corrina and her boyfriend were sleeping, naked. She proceeded to
lie down on the floor next to them, grab the blanket off of them and fall
back into a deep sleep clutching the blanket so tight that neither Corrina
nor her boyfriend could get it back the rest of the night.
After all this, Sascha and The Clapper didnt slink off quietly and
never show their red faces again, oh no! They stayed for hours and chatted
with us and ate our waffles like nothing had happened.
4. The most beautiful apartment I ever lived in was on Treat Street in
San Francisco. It had wood floors, high ceilings, sun, those windows with
the little square panes, a backyard full of flowers, a garage full of
car parts. Unfortunately, my roommate was a disaster. Everything was very
tense between us because once and a while Id start dating someone
and hed realize I wasnt going to sleep with him and stop talking
to me. One afternoon my friend Ray Wray sat down at my table at New Dawn
and insisted that I had to let him stay with me for a while because he
and his boyfriend were breaking up (again) and he had nowhere else to
go. At first Ray was the perfect guest. He sold drugs to buy us a video
game system and a CD player and hair clippers so we could give each other
bad haircuts. He cooked mashed potatoes and grits with vegan gravy. He
even got us a kitchen table.
Ray was a mess. He had run away from home and grew up on the street. Thats
where I met him, actually. We were both kids and I would go hang around
the street where he worked. He was the sweetest, most sensitive person
alive but he could punch out anyone in the world if he had to. As a friend,
he was amazing; as a houseguest, he was a nightmare. He ruined my house,
crashed my car and didnt tell me because he was too drunk to remember
it happening, left cigarette butts all over everything, and invited the
girl who broke my heart over to play Yahtzee every night after I told
him I never wanted to see her again. Oh, and he stayed for six months.
Everything that happened with Ray was a huge dramatic production. Probably
the worst period of his stay was when we both got Mono. We were confined
to the house for a month, too sick to work or go out. My mom would come
by once a week and give us weird herbs to take. When I refused to take
the worst tasting ones, Ray would handcuff me to the chair until I swallowed
them. We literally sat in the kitchen for a month and drove each other
crazy. We paced back and forth. We wrote songs. We threw all of our blue
dishes out the window. We prank called our friends. We had food fights.
During that time, a stray cat moved into the kitchen and wouldnt
leave. He became our new best friend when no one else would come visit
for fear of getting sick. One night while we were on acid, Ray discovered
that the cat had been using our closets as a bathroom for some time. So
hes running around the house, trying to catch the cat and threatening
to put it in the oven and Im running around trying to stop him.
Finally I had to call animal control and have them come over and take
the cat away.
5. I was staying in San Francisco last December, a houseguest in my old
house on Market street. I came home early one night from a party and set
up my usual bed on the most comfortable couch in the living room, turned
off the light and fell asleep instantly. I was so exhausted. About three
hours later I woke up to someone turning on the lights. I didnt
even open my eyes but I heard a few people come in, talking softly, and
set up bedding on the floor. I was so tired I couldnt even look
to see who it was or get up to turn off the light after they had forgotten.
I just lay awake with my head under my pillow hoping theyd go away
or fall asleep. Unfortunately, they did neither of these things. They
were two teenage boys and a girl. I dont know if I ever did catch
their names so for the sake of this review I shall refer to them as A,
B, and C. They fought the whole night. They were from some small town
south of the city and they had come up in hopes of finding a place to
live and getting away from their parents. A and B were together and C
was Bs best friend. They had run out of money and patience with
each other. B and C argued about who was more of a wimp and C fell asleep
crying. Then A and B argued about their relationship and B spent the whole
time not listening to a thing A said. He just kept coming back to how
she should understand how it made him feel for her to say that she loved
him when he didnt love her too. To him that was somehow way worse
than how A felt for loving such an insensitive asshole who didnt
love her back. The whole night, I lay there with my eyes closed restraining
myself from getting up and punching B in the face.
And thats not even the worst of it. Eventually, someone else came
in and yelled at them until they turned off the light and went to sleep.
Ah, sleep. It was beautiful. Then I found out that Wendy was staying there
too. At 7 am, only hours after I had fallen asleep, Wendy bounds in like
a puppy and jumps on my bed, pulling the covers off of me. Hey! Hi, Sarah.
What are you doing here? Hi, how are you? I couldnt even say a word.
I couldnt even pretend to be excited to see her. I was too tired.
I just glared at her until she went away.
Brooklyn, New York