The Neighbor Upstairs is Leaving

DId I ever tell the story about quitting my job and slamming the door on the way out? I think I did but I deleted it because it wasn’t that good. It was a good story but I was bad in it and I prefer being the good protagonist if I have to be in my story. So I guess we miss that one, but here is a pseudo story about a stranger. He would be a good guy in any story. Clean cut. Pretty. I heard him upstairs packing. I imagined he would be in California tomorrow. And the room upstairs would be empty. It made me feel incredibly empty inside, like a part of me was about to disappear and I was prematurely feeling it. And it wasn’t a rotten part, like a tumor, but rather an exciting bundle of possibility deep inside me that was creeping away quietly, with a few thuds from the ceiling, to remind me, this was it.
He would be gone, and I felt like it was my fault. I met him the night I moved into the complex. Adam was here and he insisted that I needed to give him more space. From living together, to loving each other everyday, driving together, and working together, to well it’s a long story, and I’ll get into it later, but we were down to a visit with a little sex once a month. And it made me lonely and feel crazy inside, because I knew I needed something more.
I still need something more, because I’m back with Adam, but I’ll get into that later. As for the first night I moved in, Adam and I were on the stairwell outside, the fire escape I mean, and it was this bright rusty red color, and the house behind the complex was under construction (it still is), and was being torn into from all sides. Out from the fire escape door just above us came a guy that looked around 27, so around my age, but he had this look of adult confidence to him that I still am missing. And he looked a little like Salvador Dali, so part Spanish, with whiskers, which is what I like to call a mustache. And I thought he was handsome, in a hopeless romantic way, which I guess I picked up an impression for as he began talking ravenously, like he wanted to eat us, or rather eat Adam, because most of his eye contact went to Adam. Except I had a feeling everything he was saying was directed more with me in mind, because he kept talking about loving romantic things, like the orange trees around his old home in California, and surfing (the adventurous side of the romantic), the art deco style of the old apartment, and photography. The photography was definitely a comment meant for me. And so I mostly sat there. By then he had directed us up to the rooftop overlooking northwest Portland, and I was staring at the clouds. It was September, and it was still warm but with the slightest breeze enough to make my mind wander and feel a little restless outside without a coat. I also was uneasy being myself in a company of three because I act differently around Adam when we’re alone, more girly or more blunt, but not really in between. And when I meet most strangers I have a giant wall. And then there are the few exceptions when I feel a connection with someone and if it’s someone of the opposite sex maybe I open up and act flirtatious. Naturally I’m a flirt when I’m comfortable, and so it would come out of me, but then here were two guys of comparable ages, doing most of the talking. And somehow the talking had migrated to spirituality and philosophy matters, which was Adam’s doing. And I was mute, and felt invisible, and then a little hurt. The conversation wasn’t for me, it never was. And when he invited US to hang out with him and friends a two bars he liked he made it a definitive US and the next day Adam was gone, and it was just me, and US and him never happened. But I still could hear him, walking around everyday.
And I could hear him when he got a girlfriend and started having sex. I didn’t want to believe it was he but then I had no choice because I realized it was him, it was from directly above my apartment. When she visited her stilettos would pound and click on the natural hardwood floors, and I felt an anger broil up inside me, and I would occasionally bang the handle of my broom on the ceiling. I tried once going upstairs to tell him it was loud, and the poor walls were so thin, and so I could hear him more than I really wanted to, and I’m sorry to sound like an old cat woman but could you keep it down? And he was apologetic. But that was months ago. And that was before they really were serious and began having sex, after which I could lay in bed and hear her screaming and scrambling around like a wild animal. One night Adam was over, and I mused, hmm, I never am so loud. Would he like to be with a girl so loud? Would it turn him on? He said he didn’t really thing it was authentic. It sounded like a put-on. I thought so too. But I bet the guy upstairs liked it.
I forgot his name.
Well he came by the night before last. His knock startled me because I never have company, but when I realized someone was at the door, I inched it open and there he was. His face looked a little older, or maybe scruffier. He was moving, he said, back to California. So it would be loud the next couple of days, but then it would be extremely quiet for at least a little while until someone else moved in. But my whole hall was empty. I wondered when that would happen. I wondered if I could bare to stay here with him gone. No one around. I didn’t really like hanging out with anyone anymore. After Adam and I moved to the country when I graduated college, it was just us two and the nearest neighbors a mile away. And then I went to Korea to teach and the closest English speakers were ten minutes by cab, at least. I had turned into an introvert, especially as my private and closed tendencies had offended all of my old college friends, most of whom were here in Portland. It was just me mostly and these sporadic visits from Adam. I tried a boyfriend and a job selling computers. But the herpes Adam gave me crept up and climbed into the new boyfriend, without my even knowing about it. And then the computers. Ugh. The coworker/new boyfriend hated me and the computers were mind numbing, and selling required acting happy even when you weren’t and so I felt like going crazy again. And I returned to Adam, but things were just as I left them. I was ok, and the truth is he loved me, but just to be around once a month, and that seemed to be elongating, that short visit. And when he left, I felt like an old, depleted river, drying up. The summer is hard, when you quit your job because you can’t stand your coworkers, and school is in recess. It’s nice to get up late, and not worry about deadlines and time constraints. It’s nice to take an hour to get ready when you do get up and to go to bed late watching movies. But when it’s everyday and there’s nothing in the way of meetings and social commitments to get you out of bed at a certain time and to remind you of what date it is, then nothing seems to matter at all, and your head gets fuzzy, and your heart feels sad. So when the neighbor upstairs is moving out, and the cute three year old girl next door and the wonderfully energetic gay engineer across the hall have both already moved out, and everything is quiet and empty around you, then the emptiness inside you feel bigger and blacker. And it is a numbing sadness. And it’s choking and claustrophobic because you kind of want to move to California, and you regret that you didn’t meet the neighbor upstairs when you were alone, and when your head was clear, and you had been open and confident. Not that you ever have been, unless you were drunk, but that’s another story.
He will be gone and moving on and you will still be here.


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