Early Saturday morning, I was lost in the blankness. That sounds strange, so let me explain. Years ago, when I was but a canvas for youthful ambition and lots of acne, I had this hippie writing teacher who had a ponytail which he’d tie with a rubber band. I laughed at that until I grew my own ponytail and realized that the rubber band is a much better option for a guy than some girly hair tie; I was already girly enough with all the cover-up I was wearing. Anyways, my hippie writing teacher said that the worst thing for writer’s block is looking at a blank sheet of paper. Staring at it, contemplating what to write. One would get lost in the whiteness of it, stuck in its nothingness as if trapped in a maze. There was no starting point, and the writer would drown. That’s kind of how I felt around noon on Saturday. My weekend had just started and already it was boring.
This was supposed to be a quiet weekend in, planned as such to save money and combat the exhaustion that comes with having a job that makes me work. I didn’t want to booze things up, as the weekend before I’d tried to rid the world of alcohol by drinking it all. My girlfriend was away in China and so I was left with two days to read, write, and relax. But after only a few hours of that, I was ready to move on. I couldn’t concentrate; my apartment was a mess. I didn’t have any paper towels or TP, and when I spilled milk on the floor, I had to wipe it up with a lettuce leaf. To make matters worse, my bathroom light blew out. I cooked myself a late lunch, threw a movie on, and tried to enjoy myself. I’d made some sort of Mexican atrocity, horribly seasoned chicken on a bed of stale tortilla chips, and I tried to choke it down while watching The Human Centipede Part Two.
There wasn’t anywhere to go, really. I considered my options. “Would it be weird,” I asked myself, “if I went and hung out at my girlfriend’s place? At least it would be a change of scenery. And I won’t have to drop a deuce in the dark and wipe with lettuce leaves!”
I wondered if that was creepy. I mean, it is her apartment, not ours. Perhaps hanging out alone in her place while she was in China would be overstepping my bounds. “Nah,” I decided. “She’ll be flattered. It’s like I miss her so much, I have to go hang out in her apartment.” I grabbed my laptop, a book, and some other stuff and took the bus to her place. “This is GREAT!” I thought, typing in the code to get in. “It’s like staying at a hotel!”
Her apartment is smaller than mine, and wasn’t all that much cleaner. That was okay, though, because it wasn’t my mess, it was hers. Sitting in it, I didn’t feel like a loser, as I did sitting in my own filth. Even though I regularly spend more time at her place than I do at mine, being in a different person’s apartment was undeniably fun and thrilling. Cooking on her frying pan was a break from the ordinary (ie, my frying pan). Sleeping in her bed by myself was a little odd, but still exciting, mostly because I didn’t feel guilty about not cleaning up.
Sunday morning, I took the bus back to my place. I hung out for a little bit. Did I really want to shower there? My shower has exactly three water temperatures: ice cold, urine, and McDonald’s coffee. The temperature often fluctuates at random. “Please be urine, please be urine,” I often say, stepping into the shower, only to be scalded by a sudden rush of McDonald’s coffee. On the other hand, my girlfriend has a power outlet on the wall facing her showerhead, and it freaks me out. Even though it has a cover, I’m paranoid that the shower water will somehow go straight into the slits of the power outlet and I’d be fried like the cat in Christmas Vacation.
“Oh, what the heck?” I thought. “I’ll brave the electric shower.” Back onto the bus I went, and back to the other apartment. I opened the window, put on some music and took a shower that thankfully didn’t leave me glowing like Bruce LeRoy in The Last Electric Dragon (God I love that movie). Truthfully, I couldn’t have been happier. It was as if I had a summer home. A second place to go that, while not better than my apartment per say, was, if nothing else, different from my apartment.
And that got me thinking. Why don’t people do this all the time? Apartment swap, I mean. I could call up my friend Tony: “Hey, Tony, let’s switch apartments for the weekend. Spice life up a bit.” Why not? How fun would it be to stay in somebody else’s place every now and again? You would go over with a suitcase, all packed up, hang out, eat the other person’s food, clean if you’re nice. Apartment swapping is fun and adventurous and it doesn’t destroy relationships like wife swapping.
I kept going back and forth all week. When my girlfriend finally came back, I hugged her, told her I missed her, and asked her very nicely if she’d like to go back to my place.
Alone, of course, in the spirit of apartment swapping.