It took the sheriff’s deputies about 20 minutes to empty my apartment onto the street. For that 20 minutes I didn’t know what to protect. The rooms that were being emptied or the disgorged stuff that I clung so tenaciously to. They were just things, but they were my things. A few were Kathy’s but those were thing’s she didn’t value enough to take with her when she moved out 3 years ago. The county threw out what I couldn’t. That didn’t make it any easier. No, it felt like a tightly wound bandage was cut off revealing the scar beneath. Never to really fully heal.
There weren’t many pedestrians on the sidewalk this morning but each pair of eyes invaded my space, even though that space was splayed over the sidewalk like a water balloon dropped from the roof. Just splat, a momentary blemish on the street, eventually absorbed into the history of the asphalt – Unremarkable in every way from the perspective of the street. I dialed Jessie.
“Hey man, it’s me. Yea, the sheriff came this morning and my stuff is now at the curb. Can you get Danny and his pickup and come over as soon as you can?” I listened to the excuse that I half expected and hung up the phone. I leaned against the stack of boxes piled on the couch covered with winter clothes. I spied an LP that Kathy had given me when we first dated. Springsteen. That was the beginning of the end for us. I liked Lou Reed, she liked Springsteen. I knew it was over when I saw the light in her eyes dim when I was lukewarm to her gift. I listened to it maybe two or three times when we were together, but not since. Yet here I was holding on to this album as if it were a life preserver. I could let my parka get snatched by the growing crowd of petty thieves, but not that LP.
I called Tom from work simply because he had a van. He was on his way back from a fishing trip but would be over this evening. If there was anything left on the curb. The city and its pulsating life was absorbing my belongings into her. I couldn’t stop it. I’d chase off one brat, and with my back turned, 3 others would grab what they could and run. Bruce looked so young on the cover of the lp, looking off to one side. I couldn’t tell if he was looking ahead or behind. For me it was all behind now. Enough of my stuff was stolen and I could sit on the couch that no one seemed to want. Even though it was in the upper 80’s I had my parka on, plus whatever I could stuff into my pockets. Me and Bruce, waiting for nightfall and Tom to return from fishing.
I checked my phone. No messages and I was going to run out of battery soon. I scrolled through my address book to see who I could call – who could I rely on. There was Kathy. C for Conroy. I knew the phone number was correct. Not quite stalking her. More like being attentive.
The sunlight was giving way to streetlight with the heat of the asphalt still rising into the cooling air. The remnants of my apartment consisted of a few pots and pans, some clothes, and a hideous tweed couch I had inherited from my brother who had inherited it from someone else. For years I have vowed to replace it, but now it was almost all I had. Everything else was gone. When the deputies were tossing stuff out the window, I was affronted, violated and degraded by their act. Now, it all meant nothing. I wanted nothing other than to start over, waiting for the summer rains to wash me clean of the residue of my past. Like my possessions I was being absorbed into the city. I was drawing strength from the unending vibrancy of life all around me. I tucked the LP under my arm, maybe Bruce wasn’t done with me yet. I looked at my phone and I pressed the button to delete Kathy’s entry.