Hardwood Floors – Who was the Pest?

Hardwood Floors – Who is the Pest?

I remember how thick the wood was, how gnarled its condition was when we found it and yet, because of an early renovation on it, its aged in effortless grace and warmth, perfect in its imperfection with a character that was fully intact making any one of our footsteps sound delicious. It was a prewar row house in Bolton Hill, a black sheep of its kind within an established street of settled urban dwellers. This prewar house was owned by a lady—who’s memorable name now frustratingly escapes me—living in California and who she left into the hands of her tenants that were in recent years art students like me, going far against the sensibilities and sensitivities of the couple next door who went to war with our landlord. By the end of the year, we received either an eviction notice or a notice that the building had been sold, or possibly both. But this was no laughing matter because it felt bad to the taste: We had definitely been kicked out by our neighbors. The home-owning neighbor couple’s attempts to groom us into civility came up spectacularly short when our backyard (separated by their with only a small chain-link fence or something) became Rambo’s domain in its entirety. To the chagrin of Michelle, Rambo’s rightful owner, the neighbor’s would survey our yard and in their proper way, inform Michelle that Rambo had not been picked up after. Then, they would send their case to the landlord and eventually, they came up with a list of indictments (one time we had a pretty successful party where for some a reason, an old couch was brought to our sidewalk becoming a semi-permanent installation that ended up attracting loiterers of a benign variety) their complaints (whatever they were but from what we heard they were; noise, the dog and who cares to dig deeper other than a general and generalized misconduct) growing to a fever pitch and at the end of our school year (our lease’s term end), it was clear our landlord, though she genuinely looked out for us, had effectively grown weary of the neighbors when she threw in the towel.

 

 

For a moment, it was Baltimore

Things were getting hectic tonight. I hadn’t left the house all day. I had a headache that clouded over it. It hit me like an onslaught in the middle of the night. I had to readjust in bed over and over for the sinus pain to divert or just dull into the background. When I woke up, I decided to make coffee to take the edge off (which it usually does). I worked on a drawing and did little else besides make eggs, toast and leftover pasta from the night before, for lunch. The day was looking pretty deadlocked and looked like it was going to end strangely and without even a feint purpose, save for the fact that I had drawn and that made me feel almost alright. Then, slowly, my roommates trickled in. First Wisarut came in, set his stuff down and took a seat on the chair with a sigh in the dark. Something wasn’t right with him. Then Kiem came in. I set up Skype on my computer. We all lightly conversed for a few minutes. Wisarut went into his room and strummed his guitar while Kiem started preparing dinner. Then I noticed a message from Ms. Vicki Sun. It had been a long time since we caught up. We messaged hardily. She is one of the few tough and knowledgable people who can really get to the heart of any, matter of the heart. The conversation was uplifting. Suddenly, emotion overcame the living room. What was with the world today? Why were things so unexplainable? I was starting to get cabin fever and now it was peaking. I wanted to lighten the load. After Kiem retired for the evening, I asked Wisarut if he wanted to go on a nighttime walk. He obliged. Time to get some fresh air and fresh air we did. It was dewey. It was finally Spring.

We walked down to Los Angeles Street before turning right. There was a rare, majestic stillness in the air, in the lack of sounds, people or much of anything except the distant hum of a bus or gentle wheeze of an old Japanese car. Because it was so quiet, every little thing was audible. You could pick up on isolated sounds. The city was turned off, as if in its own form of heaving, vacated slumber. It left empty calm in its wake and tiny creatures to nominally rustle about. Wisarut took pictures along the way. I was also egging him on. This was a walk in its truest sense. The kind where there is no goal except to discover shit along the way. As we got up to Broadway, things started becoming ever so desolate. Abandon buildings for sale: humongous megalithic tombs of a time long forgotten. The ruins. As we crept down Broadway even further, there were no more tall buildings at all. The night sky opened wide in plain view with the lone three-quarter’s full moon dangling over the night sky’s edge. There in this stretch, I felt overcome. An innocence I had forgotten about that echoed in the old forgotten buildings on the strip. Though mostly abandoned, it was clear this strip had not bore the blows of a developer’s whims. On the contrary, there was a feeling that everything here had been left as it was since maybe around the 60’s, had seen populations rise and fall in them, and had merely and amicably faded – their untouched histories quietly alive pouring forth and miraculously intact. The sky at this point was opened in its full scope. The small, milky moon was bright and untethered. Redwoods sprouted up like pointing fingers out of the crumbling sidewalks, their outlines looking cartoon against the moon’s light. This was it! I thought. I wasn’t expecting to see this expanse, here, in this desolate part of Downtown. Far from that. I felt at once that the time was unclear and that at any moment, we might see a lightened blue break at the horizon’s edge in what would be a virgin sunrise, one that I hadn’t experienced – in the sense in which this could happen anywhere in the world, a state of mind – since living in the dorms in Baltimore, freshman year. There and then, we were on the top story, Western edge facing South toward the inner harbor. The sunrises there were brilliant and shot through the windows with astonishing purpose or urgency. The orange break, a musty, darkened ochre orange followed by all of the rest of it ensuing drama bespoke the innocent yellow splash of light that sailed inside, prying my tired eyes open as I sat at a computer in the vestibule along with a cup of coffee listening to songs off of my roommate Nick’s Napster. The yellow sharpened along with the sharp cold air. Because all-nighters were altogether common that year in particular, those memories of sunrise are particularly etched into my memory, triggered now by standing on a desolate, industrial strip here at night; one that I thought I’d never revisit when I left Baltimore. But here I was in Los Angeles, shedding myself of signifiers, and plainly inhaling the fresh, moist air in an industrial landscape in the still of the night. I had come back full circle in some way, to something I had missed and didn’t know it. Once in a while, I am reminded of the need of a life much more simple that reminds me of a home I once had, where the only thing in my thoughts, was nothing whatsoever.

Walk Photos by Wisarut Wattanachote

Swinging

Swinging

It was narrow and long.

It was narrow and long.

This one was slanted

This one was slanted

At the Edge

At the Edge