10 minutes later, I arrived in her dimly lit quazi-urban-business-district-neighborhood and parked my car outside a Korean restaurant at a meter that would go into effect at 8am the following morning. Across the street was a tall cement building with a neon red sign that flashed the misspelled word “Phychic”.
With pillow in hand and an overnight bag, I rang the doorbell to M’s old apartment building. She answered the door and led me up the steep stairway to the second floor, where I got a whiff of that “old building” smell.
Donning the walls in the living room were a mish mash of multi-colored wall blankets, grandma’s old stitch art and something that looked to be a paper mache eagle that hung in the corner above a small television set equipped to only play DVDs and VHS tapes.
Leaning against the walls were a cello and some random acoustic guitars belonging to her 23 year old hipster phantom roommate who was never home.
“I haven’t seen her around lately,” M told me. “Thanks for coming over.”
M heated up some macaroni and cheese for me in her kitchen. I took my bowl of late dinner into her living room and chatted with her as she folded laundry.
As M talked about the trials of loss she was recently experiencing she mentioned that she wished for more people around her these days. When I asked her if her roommate had been there for her at all during this rough time in her life, she responded:
“Yeah, well, she gave me a hug and then made me a playlist on her I-tunes called, “Get Well M.”
When we were ready to call it a night, M pulled out a futon for me from her roommate’s bedroom that was right next to the living room where I would be sleeping. We gathered blankets to ensure my comfort and warmth, especially since most of the rooms in the apartment had a window opened a slight crack so that M could enjoy the fresh air. Her fresh air was my igloo.
“There’s also a heater here,” she showed me assuredly, pointing at the manual wall heater.
As I got ready for futon, I brushed my teeth in her “old, but isn’t it cool?” bathroom complete with fading floor tile and a scratched up bathtub. “Landlords must love this generation,” I thought, “they won’t insist at all on upgrading this place.” As I flossed away I noticed some cassette tapes and a tape player sitting on a shelf. These had to belong to the hipster roommate. I asked M about it.
“Your roommate plays tapes?”
“Yeah,” she replied sarcastically, “isn’t it ironic?”
Well, that all depends.
i•ron•ic ˌ(ī-ˈrä-nik ) also i•ron•i•cal:
“Poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended.”
The hipster-critic online dictionary describes cassettes being as ironic as:
“…another recycled toy for a bored generation that otherwise stands for nothing but faux-nostalgic brand uber-consumerism.”
Alanis Morisette describes ironic as: “rain on your wedding day.”
Curled up in my blankets I laid there staring at the street light reflection that spilled onto the living room walls. I thought about the day for awhile and as I tossed and turned my 40 year old body, I begin to drift to sleep.
Not long after that at about 11:30pm I heard the slam of a door below me. Half asleep I thought maybe it was the neighbors. Then I heard the shutting of a door to my right and saw the lights go on underneath the bottom crack of the door.
It was the phantom hipster roommate.
I pretended to be asleep as she opened the door again and tip toed over me, through the hall and into the bathroom. A few minutes later she tip toed back out, walked past me and shut her bedroom door again. There was a pause for a moment. And then I heard singing.
“Oh no,” I thought. “Is this what it’s going to be like all night?”
It wasn’t. Phantom open her bedroom door again, turned off her light and skipped past me, huddled down the front stairs and slammed the door into the night. I peaked outside through the front living room window, but Phantom was gone. I missed her. I never saw her face.
The next morning M asked me, “was she here last night?”
“Yes,” I said, “she came by.”
M went to the bathroom and then came out.
“She took her toothbrush.”
Ah, just another Monday night in the Hipster District.
It was a rather cold morning that I wasn’t prepared for. I thought about borrowing a coat from M for the ride home when I noticed a bag of old clothes next to the wall heater. They were left there from Phantom to be given to Goodwill. Inside it was a big green long coat lined with a furry cream colored fabric. I tried it on in front of M and we laughed.
I looked in the bathroom mirror at my reflection. It was too big for me, but very warm, so I took it.
We said our goodbyes and while M got into the shower, I packed up, folded the blankets, rolled the futon up, and walked down the steep set of stairs. Wearing my new oversized hipster coat, I walked to my car just in time before the street meters started working and drove off to my boringly normal residential neighborhood to get ready for work.