Boomtown Boudoir

April Blizzard, 2003
February 4, 2009, 6:17 pm
Filed under: Hyperbole, Nostalgia | Tags: , , ,
Anais Nin, photo by John Pearson

The house where we all lived on Rodman Street opened into a short hall that lead to a long flight of stairs, and I don’t think this typical quirk of Old Philly townhouse architecture found its true purpose before the blizzard that April. We had over three feet of snow when just the day before we’d all been running around in sweatshirts. I woke up late and found Jonah, Hershel, and Natashia at the top of the stairs with their BMX bikes. They were riding them down the stairs, out the front door, and into the enormous wall of snow that had been plowed directly in front of our house.

Part of me wanted to join in but I didn’t, satisfied with the way this event filled the house with shouts and laughter. I made myself a cup of instant coffee and curled up in my quilt at the kitchen table, reading Anais Nin. I had moved past all the Henry and June stuff and was now getting into Incest. There were certain things for which I could forgive old Anais and certain things I could not. I thought of her as a kind of moral abomination and hoped I never got like that myself, but found it very exciting that she had written the warning signs out for me with such detail and density. I was irritated by her insistence on portraying herself as this fragile, empathic ingenue who even while laying waste to the lives around her was perpetually laid up with the vapors in a home someone else was paying for and trying to work up the energy to write, but then again, that seemed real to me; the way it would actually go. The thing that really scared me, though, was the way she just let everything and anything happen to her and wrote about it with almost zero implied responsibility. Kind of like, “ooopsie… did I really just have sex with my estranged father?”

The Rodman Street house was maybe a step away from being a squat. None of us cleaned, although sometimes one of the people crashing there would try. There were random holes in the wall. The outside blew inside regardless of the season through the walls, the fireplaces, the cracks in the foundation. It had the most sinister basement imaginable. Everything could be used as an ashtray. My own theoretical morally abominable affairs would necessarily be prefaced by a statement like, “just move that stuff over.” The door was wide open and there might have been almost as much snow in the hall as there was outside that day.

Later, we went down the street to Dirty Frank’s for pitchers. My ex boyfriend showed up there, as he inevitably showed up everywhere in those days. I’d thought I’d been safe, in the aftermath of a blizzard, with him living at least fifteen blocks away. “How did you get here?” I asked, not very nicely, ignoring the girl he’d come with. He made a gesture that suggested he swam to the bar through the banks of snow. He looked as though he thought he was going to sit down and join us. “But why?” I persisted. That worked. He left. If I were Anais Nin, I would have gotten yet another journal entry describing in exquisite detail my torture at having to sit through yet another evening of the same thing happening the way it always happened. But it occurred to me then that Anais never had much in the way of territory to defend, which must have been the entire problem.