Day Twenty: Alone Again. Naturally.

Laundry room

Laundry room (Photo credit: Photochiel)

Now that I’m closer to being caught up with school I need to seriously get caught up with my room.  For one reason, I’m running out of clean clothes.  Glancing around it looks like my closet got tossed out of an open blender.  Yeah, it’s really that bad.   I begin by deciding what is simply a “no go” as in changed my mind in wearing, to a “gotta go” as in must be washed. I separate clothes by doing the old sniff test and find I have enough failed sniffs to run a load of laundry. I dread doing my laundry.  We have a decent building laundry room, yet I absolutely avoid going there by myself. After a really creepy incident I now wait until I am down to Goodwill giveaways before I’ll go there.  A couple of months ago around eight o‘clock at night, I carried down my hamper, and when I opened the door I must have interrupted something.  The girl jumped off the washing machine lid and smoothed down her skirt and the guy gave me this wicked grin.  It freaked me out.  I went back upstairs to the apartment and told my mom it was too busy and I’d go later.  She made that huff sound when something annoys her.  She had asked me to wash out a load of towels when I did my stuff and eventually went down herself, since I had “homework” I needed to do.  My lack of enthusiasm for doing laundry has only reinforced my parents’ belief I am the queen of procrastination. Tonight I’m so low on laundry I will have to tough it out.  I’m hoping the mystery laundry room couple has not renewed their lease.Having snacked on a slice of peanut butter toast and a banana, I am lounging on my bed trying to get some history homework done when Dad knocks on the door.  I know it’s him by the “rap    raprap” knock he does.  He waits a minute before opening the door if I don‘t call out an invite.  I like that he gives me time to get myself together. Mom gives a knuckle rap and pops open the door.  She has an agenda, and whether or not I’m in the middle of dressing doesn’t often occur to her.

“I’ve seen you bare butt naked before,” she will reply to my indignant, “Mom!”  Yeah, a five year old bare butt is way different from a fifteen year old one.

But it’s Dad and he’s polite. “We’re going out for a no-frills dinner.  You  want to come?”  I point to being in pajamas, my hair being up in a messy ponytail, and hold up my history textbook. He’s a smart guy.  He nods and says, “Okay, some other time.  Keep your cell phone on, and the door locked.”  These are Dad’s last words whenever I’m left on my own.  He’ll probably whisper them to me on my wedding day.  It’s our joke and as he says the words I sing-song mimic him.

I am now alone in the apartment.  Being alone, all alone in the place suddenly I feel the apartment change. When it’s only me in the apartment I  feel kind of vulnerable. Stupid, I know.  There are people living all around me.  This is a safe neighborhood even. What’s really weird is when my parents are home I keep my door closed. When they leave I immediately open it.  If I took psychology I’m sure I could account for that idiosyncrasy.

All of a sudden I have lost interest in studying.  American history can be absorbed only so much.  I toss my textbook and the floor and flop over on my back and survey my room.  On the wall across from my bed is my poster of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road, which is tacked up so two of the Beatles are crossing one wall, while the other two are making their way on the other wall.    I tried not to crease the poster when I tacked it into the corner to span the two walls.  Who knows—maybe the poster will sell on E-Bay someday.  I have framed photos all situated on one of those floating shelves we picked up at IKEA. Actually, most of our furniture is from IKEA.  My parents like how it can be easily disassembled to move, which as I’ve said, happens a lot.  The furniture also reminds them of Europe, a place they have yet to travel to, yet really, really want to.  I think they are waiting until I graduate from high school.  I hope they leave me a forwarding address.

One reason we mostly live in apartments, or in small places, is if we got a house, or a large condo, we would fill it up with stuff, and my parents like to keep a minimal lifestyle so they can live large.  We don’t spend a lot of money on furnishings and clothes, decorations and other things.  Instead my parents like to eat out and go on decent vacations.  I guess we live frugally in some ways, and not in others.  By the looks of our apartment it’s nice enough, yet it looks like we are living tightly, but not in an embarrassing way.  Dad, Mom, and I visit the thrift shops because it’s fun to find fashion and decorating treasures, not because we have to.   I don’t care what other people think.  I am not trying to impress anyone.  Keeping to myself means I don’t have to worry about “Does this look okay?” “Omigosh, Sherry Anderson has the same boots as me.” “I’ll die if my Mom won’t buy me that shirt I saw at Divinity’s.” No, I don’t worry about all that.

I have one bookshelf which contains only a few books and a few bits of treasure, like souvenirs and thrift shop finds.  Someday I will have one of those rooms that is lined with shelves and shelves of books, like the ones in those old English movies. Right now we have an unspoken rule about how many books we keep since they are a)heavy and b)take up a lot of space. This is why we are big on checking out the public library when we move to a town. We each have our own qualifications of what makes for a perfect library.

Dad wants to make sure the reference section is decent, and Mom likes to inspect the fiction.  I look into the music selection, and their videos. Some libraries are meager in all areas, and Dad says that a town’s library is a reflection of the town.  He says a town’s library indicates if a town cares about education, community, and their youth.  He can tell all that when he goes to check out books?  Besides music and videos I’m interested in whether or not the librarians are nice or not.  Some libraries have the crankiest librarians. They reek of not liking teenagers.  Then again, some libraries just reek, like the pipes leaked and they didn’t fix it before mold and mildew set in.

This town’s library is amazing.  They moved into the new library two years before we moved to town.  The design of the library is not all uptight and institutionalized. The library has this fabulous reading area filled with couches and wing-back chairs with one wall being a window that overlooks the town’s park.

I often come to the library and sit and stare out the windows while I attempt to do my homework. I like to sit and soak in the quiet strength the library offers.  That sounds lame, doesn’t it?  How can a library possess strength?  My English teacher would say I have personified the town’s library by giving it human-like qualities.  Yet, I think the library does have a strength to it. All those books neatly lining the shelves represent the strength of knowledge, how learning adds power to a person.

I have a stack of checked out library books on my bookshelf right now since we just finished studying poetry in English.  Most of the class groaned when we first began poetry, yet I have to admit that Mrs. X made it interesting.  She gave us this terms sheet and being a word-freak I totally absorbed all the different ways to understand how a poem is expressed.  As for poets, I discovered I really like Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson.  Frost makes me see nature in a new way, and Emily is amazing to me.  She became this pristine hermit, imprisoning herself in her family’s home while writing thousands of poems.  She never intended to publish them.  She probably fooled everyone into thinking she had nothing going on in her life, yet she was full of all this passion.  I like Bronte’s Jane Eyre for the same reason.  Quiet, demure, orphaned Jane contained this immense passion.  She appeared so weak and unable.  She fooled everyone.  Don’t bother drawing conclusions to the parallels of quiet women with hidden passions.  I can admire without having to aspire.

I’m done analyzing my room when my gaze falls on the unfinished jigsaw puzzle that’s been sitting on a board on the floor for over two months. Guilt moves my eyes to another place.  I’ll not bother looking under my bed–it’s a graveyard of unfinished projects. My closet is open and I spy the trumpet case. Why not?  I get up and decide to check it out.  Pulling it down off the shelf, something I haven’t done for maybe four years, I’m struck how much lighter it is than I remembered.  Another reason I gave up the trumpet is that I didn’t like lugging the case around.  It used to bump up against my legs.  I had a permanent bruise mark next to my right knee from where the case would bang against my leg.  I open the case and smile.  I always liked the golden shine of my trumpet.  It reminds me of Christmas.  The brassy sheen reflects the nightstand’s light.  I pick up the trumpet and before inserting the mouthpiece I lay it on my lips.  I smile, thinking of Eddie.  I finger the valves. At least I kept my instrument well-oiled, even if I didn’t play it well.  I close my eyes and blow a C.  I’m surprised.  I blow a G.  It too blows clear.  Not so for the F.  Blat.  I pucker and adjust my lips. The notes tentatively sound.  Encouraged I unroll the wrinkled sheet music and try the piece.  Some notes I forget, yet I manage to stumble through it.  When I finish I lay the trumpet across my lap.  There is a sweetness left lingering in my room.  Music.  I can make music if I choose to.  I think about trying another piece, put the trumpet up to my lips and practice my scales.  Surprisingly they come easily to me.  Why was the trumpet so hard when I was in fifth grade?  Those odd pricks of self-consciousness nip at my memories and I remember it wasn’t the trumpet I disliked so much as the attention it caused.

“You stink,” the boys in the section would say, when I messed up a notes.  Right. As if they played like Winston Marseilles themselves.  I made the mistake in believing those trumpet-playing bozos and told Mr. M I wanted to switch to choir. Yeah, and there was the pain of Eddie’s edict of  “no girls should play the trumpet.“ Yet, I did keep playing the trumpet for a little while, even after quitting band.  I think that drove my parents crazy.

“Why are you quitting band, sweetie?”  Mom would say.  “You’re not that bad.  With more practice you could be really good.  Try to stay with band a little longer, okay?” But I didn’t.  I abandoned my trumpet to its case and there it languished until today.  I wonder if it felt happy about being able to complete its purpose once again.

Okay, that’s enough personification for one day.  A grilled cheese sandwich sounds pretty good right now.  I lay the trumpet back in its case.  No promises it will come out any time soon.

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