A Series Of Places I’ve Been (And Where I’m Going)

Michael Whitney

1. 10 Castle Harbor Road. I learned to walk and speak and read, sitting under the dining room table for hours with my books. It was safest there, tucked away from my parents’ shouting matches. My mother’s dream home, with the view of the harbor. She never forgave my father for going bankrupt and forcing us to move to:

2. 324 Bread and Cheese Hollow Road. Or, as my mother referred to it, the “shitty rental property.” I hated living with her, and therefore I hated the house, but I loved that the street name’s length required two signs, one on top of the other, to fit. I couldn’t have been more excited the summer after my sophomore year in high school, when I was accepted to a writing program, and decamped for a month to:

3. Columbia University’s dorms. A perfect summer. As soon as I set foot in the city, I knew that when I graduated high school, I would come back. And I did, when I left home to move into:

4. My dorm room at NYU. But dorm living wasn’t authentic enough for my pretension, and after freshman year I signed a lease at:

5. The apartment in Williamsburg. I lived with a girlfriend I treated poorly. In my defense, I was, in hindsight, deeply, clinically depressed, and I took it out on her. I thought a change of scenery would help my mood, so I broke up with her and hopped a plane to:

6. London, England, where I spent a semester pissing off my suitemates in the dorms, having parties and smoking cigarettes even though one of the girls I lived with was an asthmatic. What a whiner, I thought. The change of scenery did change my mood, from depressed to manic, and the mania followed me back to New York, where I had no summer housing lined up. Luckily, John and Adrian let me crash on their couch at:

7. 440 Lorimer Street. Back to Brooklyn. I wore the same green dress all the time, and supported myself handing out flyers in Times Square for an off-Broadway show about Elvis. I had to wear a poodle skirt. I spent all my earnings on cheap wine and cocaine. So did John and Adrian, which is why they were evicted, and we all moved to:

8. The shitty place in Bed-Stuy. We had rats that were larger than the slightly feral kitten I took in from the bodega downstairs. She had murder in her blood and killed them all, one after the other, leaving carcasses as gifts outside my bedroom door. I named her Cat, after Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I fancied myself an Audrey type. Things were rolling rapidly downhill, and I dropped out of NYU. Just in the nick of time, Cristina, the first girl I had ever kissed back in my bedroom on Bread and Cheese Hollow Road, reappeared, took one look at my living environment, and said “this won’t do.”

9. I put my cat in her carrier, and the two of us moved in with Cristina in the Bronx. First a studio, then a dilapidated but cozy one bedroom that we made a home. We got married, and spent the gift money on a couch and some rugs, nice thick ones that cushioned every step.

10. Despite the comforts, the marriage didn’t stick. We moved to a new apartment, hoping a change of scenery would help, but before I knew it Cristina was packing her bags. The day she left, I stood and surveyed the rooms. It is my first time living alone. It’s not so bad: the floors don’t slant and from my bedroom window I can see a little park. The cat likes to sit there, on the sill, purring in the sunshine. I have an intercom, and my name is on the directory in the marble lobby. Who am I to enjoy such luxury? I even have a dishwasher. I ran it constantly after she left, getting rid of years of caked in grime. TC mark

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