I tried to stay. I really did.
I got a job at a clothing store geared toward teenage girls and I tried to stay but I couldn’t do it. I needed to go home. Not necessarily home. I am from a town of 300 people. A highway. I couldn’t really go back there. Although I was welcome. Always welcome. But that wasn’t an option.
I needed a new life.
I made a list in my diary. I made a list of everything I had and everything I wanted. And they didn’t match up. So I decided to leave. I got the bus times and made my plans. Just to separate. To meet up later. To begin again when we were ready.
Even the idea of needing a diary at 22 alerted me of my crisis. I know better now. A teenage girl pours her heart into her diary, hoping the world will unconsciously listen. A college girl pours her heart into school and activities and conversations over draught beer in sketchy bars, aware and asserting her stories to others in a way that tell them to herself. A post college girl either moves on or buys another diary. A woman writes in a diary because she knows how precious and telling her thoughts are. I was at stage 3.
It was painful to go. To leave. But I did. And I didn’t take the bus. The brand new Visa in my pocket bought me a plane ticket. You don’t bus to a new life. You fly.
I arrived at William Street in a van cab and had Jennifer waiting at the door. I felt like I was pulled in under the cover of darkness. But it was pretty bright inside.
A 3 bedroom apartment for $450 a month. As in, $150 each. A month. Jennifers room was at the front and a living room and kitchen area divided the space between the other two bedrooms. Mine. And Sheenas.
Sheena was Jennifers friend “from home”, which means high school friend. Sheena was and is, absolutely, 100% the funniest person I have ever met in my life. If Sheena wanted to go on the road and tell her stories, and I haven’t seen her in years, I would without a doubt facilitate and honor it. An unshakeable force in hilarity. But this was yet to be found at the point of the house tour.
The living room had bright pink wallpaper. and housed a couch, a chair, a washing machine, a dryer and a TV.
The kitchen housed kitchen stuff. And the window was giant. And had one pane. Just one. The outer layer was a piece of plastic. As if we were under renovation, but we weren’t. This was the window. In Newfoundland. The Cellophane Window.
My bedroom was as big as a bed could fit. A left behind single bed. And Thank God there was a bed. I arrived without even a pillow. An old school kitchen table, long with adjustable flaps, also came with the room and my clothes all got neatly folded on top of it.
I got a job at another clothing store and another job at a bar. I pretty much worked and slept for my first few months there. Except Christmas. I took a few days off.
My parents gave us an old fake Christmas tree and we decorated it with lights and sample liquor bottles that I stole from the bar. And we sat up nights enjoying a half case of beer and a pack of cigs that we paid for with scratch ticket winnings from my mother, my seldom tips and Jennifers pittance from her job at a cafe/ design warehouse. And money we found in our couch. No shame between us to go to the store with exact change, often pennies, to get our jollies.
The stories I can tell from the Mouse House are endless.
Did I mention that we were over-run with mice?
Jennifer and I played a game in which we would have to conduct all of our house business to a determined set of Summer Rains.
The song by Belinda Carlisle.
A very long song.
“We need to clean the kitchen.”
“4 Summer Rains.”
“Want to go to the bar… It’s almost last call and I have $15.75… wait…I have $18?”
“But we… no, okay… We have 3 Summer Rains to get ready.”
It didn’t matter if you had your shoes on. You had to finish after the allotted Summer Rains. You had to leave.