Summer hit and Alex moved out of his dorm room, we figured, why not just split a two bedroom apartment the following fall when he returned for his junior year. We found a place behind a park with a skate park in Fairfax city outside of DC. Five minute walk, up a hill and we were skating, it seemed perfect. The first two weeks went great, it was paradise. Then we started waking up with bites on our hands and feet, cabinets and cupboards were more cockroaches than food, we discovered the source of our bites, bed bugs. The management of the complex didn’t really care, they sent a guy to spray, but it didn’t do much of anything.
To get rid of the bedbugs, my mother ended up going to a (real)hardware store to talk about poisons that would actually work, she was told of a few, but you needed a license to purchase them. She ended up calling stores and distributors until one didn’t think to check if she was licensed and she picked up a canister. The bedbugs were toast, not another bite the entire lease(I did however find one stuck to a piece of tape on a poster when moving out, it’s legs still wriggling). The roaches were tougher to get rid of, basically, all an any food had to be kept in the refrigerator.
Being two guys that didn’t care about much more than skating, beer and getting stoned, being rid of the roaches was easy, we mostly only ate fast food(and mostly took out the trash every time we walked out the door) and occasionally kept food that was meant to be refrigerated. I also worked in a kitchen at a restaurant just a few minutes away and could get most of my food for the day there and Alex’s girlfriend got an apartment in a different building of the complex(without roaches or bedbugs) and he could get a normal eating routine at her place. This left our apartment somewhat vacant of purpose and life, beyond being my bedroom, it quickly became the party apartment.
I think all tolled, there was maybe a collective week out of the year that people didn’t come to drink and smoke. Not every night was a huge event, but generally at least five to ten people would show up, some nights only one or two, other nights close to twenty or thirty. For being in my early twenties, life was great. Wake up at noon, let my dog out, head to the skate park, hour on the half pipe, hour skating the box and flat, head home, shower, smoke pot until heading to work at the restaurant. Work from four to ten or four to eleven in a laid back kitchen(laid back as long as we did our job), drive five minutes home(seven with a stop for beer) and show up at the apartment to a party or phone calls and texts from people on their way over. I wasn’t asking for anything more out of life.
At the time it was amazing, truly living in the absolute present at all times, living on impulse. But as I saw and experienced, that depth of living on impulse and completely in the total present either leads to trouble or becomes unfulfilling and riddled with anxiety. Luckily for me, it became unfulfilling and anxious before I found myself in any trouble that I couldn’t pick myself up from and rebuilt a couple bridges.
I started paying more attention to the few around me with goals that extended outisde the end of the night. The others around me who were slowly working towards something, just not sure what yet, and the ones with no direction but right now, which I was part of. Since I enjoyed working at this one particular laid back restaurant, I convinced myself the kitchen is where I could survive, I researched schools, found a couple in Philadelphia, not too far from DC, and applied to one.
I got the acceptance letter and started letting it roll in as a reality, stopped worrying and kept living the impulse/total present life, telling myself the end was just ahead of me. Slowly it came into play, telling Alex, telling my friends later.
It was definitely one of the harder decisions I made, leaving those I cared about to better(or at least attempt to better) myself. I made sure to handle everything I wanted to down there, which meant not much changed, waking up at noon, skating the park, then getting stoned until I headed into work came home to a party. I’ve always, and still, keep in touch with everyone, not at where we were, but where we are now. As the time came, I visited Philly to track down an apartment, check out the city a bit.
I was still living in so much of the present, I didn’t think much of the actual move, just continued with how I was living, the perfect skate life. But the move came closer and closer, I started having the last times, saying the “see you laters” and goodbyes. It was hard saying goodbye to the core group of friends, to not be a part of where they were going from there with life the same as they couldn’t be a part of mine anymore. However, I needed the move, I was getting nothing done for myself, the restaurant was beginning to change for the worse, everything that was good in my life(except my friends) could come with me to Philadelphia.