landlord of the dance

for the past four days, the power’s been out in my apartment building.  it’s not out in the individual apartments, just in the building.  which means that my lights are on, but the hallway is dark, the property lights are out, and the washer and dryer don’t work.  on friday i was putting my clothes into the laundry and pouring in the detergent when my neighbor came up the stairs.  “you’re not trying to do laundry, are you?” she said.  “with the power out?”  i felt stupid, and my clothes were soapy.

my landlord died of lou gehrig’s last year, and last week the maintenance man told me that the family sold the building, so i’m assuming the electric bill fell by the wayside during the transfer of ownership.  yesterday i found a note from the new landlords taped to my front door, telling me where rent checks should be sent.  i left the note on the door, because i’m still tempted to go out there with a sharpie and write YOU WILL HAVE YOUR RENT WHEN YOU TURN THE LIGHTS BACK ON, despite the fact that they won’t be able to read it without the lights.

outside of the soapy clothes, the power outage hasn’t been a problem during the day.  there are windows and doors at either end of the building, so it’s pretty easy to see everything.  at night, though, the hallway’s pitch black.  it’s a scary hallway to begin with (i’ve always described it as something out of a horror movie), but somehow it’s scarier when you can’t see it.

when i take maude out, i light our way down the hall with a dim flashlight, which isn’t bright enough to stop me from thinking of it as the murder hallway, or the we-just-had-a-tornado hallway, or the aftermath of an apocalypse.  sometimes we go out the front door, where i sit on the steps in the dark, keeping the flashlight trained on maude while i listen for scary noises and watch the two-AM cars drive by.  sometimes we go out the back door, where i use the flashlight to scan the alley for garbage, broken beer bottles, piss, vomit, and other potential hazards.  maude’s ready to go inside pretty quickly–i think the darkness makes her nervous, too.

the problem, i think, is the lack of romantic things in my life.  and i don’t mean romantic things involving boys, necessarily, because i’d like to stay away from those things for now.  no, what i’m missing is the romance in things like walking down the street in an unfamiliar city, or a really good conversation.  like noticing the look on someone’s face when they don’t think anyone’s watching them.  like impromptu dancing, or the scrape of a tree branch on a windowpane.  like dead birds on the beach.

for those things to happen, though, i’d have to actually leave the house.