Why do so many dingbat apartments look like minimum security facilities?
What do you do in your confinement but lay on your stained mattress in your airless sweatbox at the Casa Royale and wishcast on Craigslist a whole other life for yourself?
You scroll listings you can’t afford, like young Lucas, my protege at Lord Bezos Farm. You fantasize a rent-controlled studio for $900, three blocks from the beach, with no need for air conditioning. No commute over the hill to work. You, and thousands of others living off the 405, sharing an opium dream of fog slipping through the open window while you sleep.
In a mockery of desire, the very life-changing rental you seek crops up…. and just to really make you feel extra bad, it’s $300 less than you’re paying in Van Nuys, and one block from the Promenade. You drag yourself the open house to buy your lottery ticket, but only because you can’t talk yourself out of it. You send unhappy texts to Mr. UpintheValley, anticipating defeat.
Dude, the line for that apartment is huge.
Nowhere to park. Think I may bounce.
Me: Stay and fill out the paperwork, at least.
There’s going to be hundreds of applicants.
God hates me. I won’t get it.
Me: God loves you. Fill out the paperwork.
So Lucas stayed for the paperwork and paid the $60 application fee for the Apartment No One Gets, and went home to the Casa Royale feeling like a sucker. Two days later he gets a text. He, out of the audition line of supplicants has obtained the apartment. Suddenly he is Charlie Bucket, holding the gold foiled Wonka bar.
Which left the small matter of the mattress, and its sweaty, unhappy residual memories, better left in the Valley. Lucas decided to
dump recycle it at the Narrows, at the crossroads of three homeless encampments. Over my objections, ladies and gentleman of the jury, as a homeowner and Mayor-Without-Portfolio of northern Van Nuys.
Dude, it’s going to be gone in an hour. Someone will sleep comfortable tonight.
Later that evening, I walked the dogs up to the Narrows to reassure myself the mattress was …recycled. It had. In its place…amidst the festival of plastic garbage, I found the repository of another man’s history. Someone’s else’s life in LA which closed out in D minor on Raymer Street. A moment of urban symmetry.
Three days later, on my way to the gym, I saw a mattress which looked suspiciously like his on Roscoe Blvd., over by the airport, two miles from where he left it. I sent an accusing text.
“That’s not her. My lady didn’t have those handles….”
And I thought of the dirty futons of my youth and wondered what became of them. I thought of the bed I chopped to pieces and set on fire in an act of marital cleansing and renewal, many years ago. All the escape chutes I wished for that never came to fruition. Suffering has brought me a different kind of happiness.