Personal Spaces

Rhett Noonan

1.

I remember being surprised by how clean it was. Not that he’s necessarily a messy person, but the living room in their apartment was always in a state of utter catastrophe, and walking into his room felt like when you dunk your head under water and everything is muffled and calm. He kept the blinds closed, he never made his bed. But everything else was stacked away neatly and I imagined him quietly putting things away in the early hours of the morning when he couldn’t sleep. He didn’t hang anything on his side of the room; his two roommates, who shared the other side, had plastered the walls with posters and to-do lists and a small white board with “fuck you” scribbled on it 37 times. Their rent agreement was taped above the light switch.

2.

When my Mom travels, she unpacks her toiletries bag in the hotel bathroom and lies everything out on a small wash cloth next to the sink.

3.

We grew up together and used to hang out at her house after school all the time. Her apartment — one that’s all her own now — smells exactly like her childhood home. Every time I point it out, she demands to know if this is a good or bad smell. I don’t know what it is, it just smells very familiar to me. Her kitchen is filled with the same junk food we used to gorge on in the afternoons — cheddar goldfish crackers, double stuffed oreos that she never eats because she hates getting the crumbs stuck in her teeth, and three different types of milk in the fridge. Sometimes I think I’ve changed so much over the course of the last couple of years, only to then feel small and stupid and young whenever I’m in her apartment — because of that smell.

4.

My desk: six different beverages, a mini polaroid photo of me and Preet, a box of band-aids, 21 Thought Catalog books, an empty bottle of Excedrin Extra Strength, a plastic knife, broken headphones, three Durex condoms from when they sent a piñata filled with them to the office, a postcard from Café Mogador, a pink heart-shaped post-it with my Myers-Briggs personality type on it from when Heidi analyzed me and then got annoyed at me for never remembering what my results were.

5.

I really love people who make themselves at home quickly. One time he showed up without really any notice and brought a basket of recently washed clothes that he wanted to fold and asked if he could hang out in my living room and talk to me while he did it. He’d beeline to my apartment after class because I was done with school already and he’d immediately throw his backpack on my couch and crawl into my bed — no matter what time it was, he’d always bury himself in my bed and take up all the space and pull my coffee-stained floral comforter up to his chin and then ask me what the last thing I wrote was. He’d leave things in my room because it was never a question whether he’d be coming back. I rarely invite people over to my apartment because I’m always anxious that everyone’s uncomfortable, but he made it so clear that he felt very much at home.

6.

She draws on everything — napkins, the back of receipts, scraps of paper sitting at the bottom of her purse that were used to hold chewed gum, sometimes even on tables (but lightly and in pencil) — and I always knew the second she started to draw on something that we’d eventually end up sitting wherever we were for several more hours.

7.

I can’t think straight unless I’m in the shower.

8.

I think it says everything about a person if their room is clean, but the insides of their drawers and cupboards and closet are all a disaster. I also think it says everything about a person if their room is just blatantly messy and they don’t bother to apologize for it. I always look to see if there are books — I saw a friend for the first time in a little over a year, and opened my mouth to ask about one of the books on the window sill and she immediately dismissed me and said: “I just took those from my parents’ house, I’ve never read them.”

9.

I have a really big fear of forgetting things, so every room I’ve ever lived in is usually covered in photos. I’m a terrible photographer — my hands are a little shaky and I’m so unbelievably impatient about everything that I never take the time to focus the camera or really make sure I’m capturing what I want — so the display of photos is never aesthetically pleasing at all. I once was FaceTiming with someone in my bedroom and he interrupted me to say that he legitimately hated how I had set up the photos on the wall behind my head. I also always hang up notes from people. I think it’s so intimate to be able to identify the person based on their handwriting. TC mark

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