A Postcard: The Life of A House from the Inside Falling Apart

March 17, 2009

postcardjapbell

posted & written by Caroline Picard

what follows is an excerpt from a publication we are putting together – a program – a zine – for saturday evening’s performance…..


A house with five rooms stood on Colonial Avenue.  We loved this house. There first lived 15 people, both the old tennants and the new.

As the old tenants moved out, as some of the new found other lodging, there were in the end five tenants.

I went to this house every day to see my friends. My father had not allowed me to live there myself because I was a girl and they boys. While I observed his wishes, I was only in my dormitory room six hours a night, if that, while sleeping.  A big house with tall ceilings, it was often cold—my friends did not like to turn on the heat. It felt like a hideout and anytime you went there someone would be doing something of interest. For instance, you could sit in the window in the kitchen and wait for Naked Neighbor to pass behind her window across the street. Or walk to the gas station to get potato chips. Or sit on the porch playing a memory game, or playing backgammon and betting with cigarettes.
Everywhere there were piles. Peter Speer made sure the house was more or less tidy. The way he tidied was by stacking the stray assortment of objects—books, sweaters, papers, socks etc., in piles. While papers and books could go in the same piles, articles of clothing became a separate pile. And while the articles of clothing pile went at the top of the stairs, for all inhabitants to sort through, the piles of papers and books were in different rooms of the house, depending on where the objects had been abandoned. There were also piles of salt and tobacco, primarily from Justin, who lived in a small walk-in-closet upstairs for a mere hundred dollars a month. Justin didn’t have a bed, but slept in a pile of clothes. He called it his nest. Because he did not have a proper room with proper furniture, most of the piles (justly or not) were attributed to him, as were the piles of salt and tobacco—as he had a habit of making his own cigarettes using a cigarette machine and the result was always a waylaid mess of stray tobacco.  We also had many parties. During those parties I made myself useful and asked for money. It gave me the opportunity to talk to many people.
In all of this, life had a comfortable balance. It felt for a while that the planets were in alignment, as each participant in the collective friendship provided a comparable gravitational pull, such that, without having to do very much at all, we turned around one another with an inherant delight. No one at this time could grow facial hair.

Three years later, in September, we learned that the landlord would evict the house on Colonial Avenue in April of 2003. Starting in September he hired three men. Those men came to Colonial Avenue five days a week from seven in the morning until four at night. They made coffee in the kitchen and spent the rest of the afternoon downstairs in the basement where we recorded music.
Exactly what they accomplished remains a mystery. Sometimes they sawed things—as evidenced by the sound of metal teeth chewing through wood and the remaning piles of sawdust they left behind. Always the sawing was done in the morning. By noon, these gentlemen sat around on practice room beach chairs smoking cigarettes and swapping stories. Moving Peter’s recording equipment back and forth and around the room on incidental purpose.
Eventually one man, Able, started asking Lucas for change. Presumably a practical joke, Able would wait at the bottom of the stairs for Lucas to come groggily down into the world, into daylight.
Months later everyone moved out.—
What furniture wasn’t wanted was left at the landlord’s behest.
(only)
In the dead of night, same day, everyone came back with a mob. Some thirty students returned to Colonial Avenue for a party. The front door unlocked, much of the furniture still there, the crowd discovered Able on the couch in the living room watching television. Someone gave him a case of beer and at first he was quite pleased.
Until someone else threw a chair on the ground and stomped it.
Someone else began to beat a spoon against a plate.
Someone else through a couch out of the second story window.
Someone else punched a hole in the wall.
Someone else—the angry hippy no one knew very well—began shooting bottle rockets in the back yard.
It was a residential neighborhood.
Eventually the house was destroyed.
The police came. Upon their approach the angry hippy turned off all of the lights. People indoors hid as quickly as possible and when Able finally had to get up to open the door, the officer turned on the light. Immediately apparent, three people hid under the bare, broken, kitchen table as though there was a table cloth to hid beneath, another hid with legs peeking out from behind a corner chair in the living room. Another could be seen under the living room couch, still another frozen on the stairs as though in perfect camaflouge….
Upstairs in the attic closet I held my breath with six others, wondering at my folly. For certainly if the police came up this way, there would be no escape save through the window, which was precarious. I realized then that someone else was urinating.
The police did nothing, but say “Stay out of trouble. There have been some complaints.”
To which Able said, “Yes sir,” denying any knowledge of any bottle rockets whatever.
When we came down someone put a bat through the television screen.

The house is currently on the market for $850,000.

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