Ward Street used to be a strange, cooperative, co-dependent apartment, where the lives of all were intertwined. We'd return from class, or work, or a twelve-hour slumber, and meet in the living room. Sometimes we'd share a meal, sometimes we'd just watch basketball and drink forties. Our primary social group was each other, as we each amused one another far more than anyone else did.
Slowly, over the past six months, this little world has changed. Jigar moving out wasn't a big deal, since he was the most independent of the four of us anyway, and he'd left before. Also, he went on trips a lot. It wasn't uncommon for him to spend three weeks following a family of disabled children across the country, or fly to Los Angeles on Bigar Maaf business. Aaron H.'s one or two nights a week at home seemed like a natural filling of the ghost roommate slot.
It was different when Docta V moved out. Gene came in and immediately started painting. And cleaning. And repairing. It was as if it took an outsider like Gene to hold up the mirror to Ward Street D, and show us what we'd become. Maybe it was a bad idea to let the heater go unrepaired for half a year. Perhaps we should have actually rearranged furniture for the first time, rather than simply talking about potential layouts for the living room. The question constantly asked was, "What happens when you do things?" The answer was, "They get done."
Mike had been moving things out gradually for the past month, but by last Sunday, the last of his possessions was gone. There was something profoundly unsettling about looking into his empty room, stark walls and windows standing unadorned. Walking into the room devoid of Mike on Monday afternoon was the first time the extremeness of these changes first hit home. Things had been metamorphosing for a long time, but I think I'd just been distracted by other concerns. Mike and Aaron had places, with girls. The wicker was soon to be flaming ashes in a fratboy firepit. Newcomers and oldtimers had both passed judgement on my living conditions, and found them wanting.
It reminded me of coming back to my parents' house in Pleasant Hill. Even now, after five years of college and not-college, it's hard not to think of the small room that currently holds quilting books and sewing supplies as my room. Of course, the old contents of that room ended up in my Ward Street room, and the bed is always covered in too much stuff to be sleep-worthy, so that helps with the separation. Still, I can remember coming in one day, probably some time in early 2000, where I had the sudden sensation of not really living there anymore. It might have been a new teddy bear, or tossing my keys to a spot where a coffee table no longer was, but it was a very sudden and distinct feeling.
Tonight, I walked in to find the living room and kitchen in a completely different state. Couches in new places, cabinets in different rooms. The furniture and roommates are both able to operate independently now, it seems. I don't know if the new living room is good or bad; right now, it's just unsettling. My only solace is that the principles of feng shui may finally be working in my favor. Or so the souls of my ancestors would hope.