Places I’ve written.
I used to have an old desktop PC in a shit-but-home rental in East Atlanta. I wrote there during rare confluences of drunkenness and solitude. (In my favor, both drinking and alone-time were rare; the two together even rarer. I am a parent, after all.)
Actually, though, I wasn’t alone even then. There was a cat, roof rats defiling each other in the rafters, most notably a stinking yellowed ferret, my partner’s beloved. He scritched at the plastic floor of his cage and secreted a unique funk while I cackled on the keys. Those were the days.
The PC broke down permanently the same month that we were evicted, approximately two months after I was laid off and a few days after the beginning of 2010. It was snowing on our golden toilet in the yard, and elsewhere.
So then my other boyfriend– I had two, at the time– bought me this. (To be honest, I don’t know exactly that “this” is. It is a small laptop. It says “dell” on it. People refer to it as a mini.) Before we agreed to loathe each other- we are each uniquely capable of a bitterly sustained grudge- he thought I would make a successful writer. Maybe he still thinks that. Either way, he sent me this laptop UPS.
From there I wrote in a quick succession of places: a freezing ass concrete house in Reynoldstown, my car, the public library, my mother’s garage, my mother’s boatshed.
When the bigots came after us– and that’s another story altogether– we fled to the hills. Specifically to a toolshed on a mountainside in the holler of Burnsville, NC.
There was a toilet behind a stained shower curtain and a bathtub in the living room/bedroom/kitchen. My partner and I slept on a futon; the kid slept on a makeshift bed on the floor that we rolled up each morning. I draped a cloth over a tv dinner tray, added a few pens and rocks, and behold: a new work space.
The shed was small, so I usually wrote outside. Our water was creek water, unheated and clear from a nearby mountain stream. We washed clothes, dishes, and our bodies alike in the utility sink between the refrigerator and the hot plate. (The bathtub didn’t drain, so we used it to store our dirty clothes instead.)
Each morning I’d wash our clothes in the sink, then hang them to dry on various lines outside. The shed was in a brief meadow on an incline; the mountain fell steeply to our left and rose bluntly to our right, dense with trees and turning leaves. Our clothes dried slowly in the brief bit of sun afforded by fall as I wrote at a plastic picnic table.
The shed was euphemistically termed a camping cabin, presumably intended for die-hard hunters. Poor people lived there, though. Before us there were two women (queer, I wondered?) who “didn’t live better’n hawgs,” as Bobby, our landlord, told us. They left behind a few clothes hangers, several neat stacks of second harvest soup, the stench of stale weed, numerous roaches. (The joint variety.)
I wrote about their soup and the sticky resin stains they left on the hot plate from doing knife shots. I wrote about the salamanders in the stream and the bear that came reliably each night, sniffing and clawing at us through the walls. I wrote about the existential fear of being hunted by predators never witnessed: online threats, the crunch of leaves outside our windows, a car long idling in the dark. Even the bear only left a butt print, some claw marks, a few stray hairs.
At night we watched sequential episodes of Star Wars to distract us from the sounds of the bear. My partner and I cried at Episode III. When they slept, I stayed up with a metal baseball bat and read: a collection of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s stories, Stephen Beachy’s boneyard, the entire Nephew imprint of Mudluscious Press, JA Tyler’s A Man of Glass and all the Ways We Have Failed. Sometimes I slept when the sun finally rose, while my partner prepared breakfast on the hot plate.
Then we moved here. I wrote in a thin string of shitty motels across the nation. I wrote in the long eerie countryside of Nevada. I wrote in the filthy corner of an anarcho-punkhouse.
And now I write here, in a dirty room in a dirtier collective, in what essentially amounts to a closet. A beautifully decorated closet, I might add. I share the room with my family, so am rarely alone, but the closet is mine.
Next week we move to a shelter, with hopes that we will find sustainable housing similar to what we had before the bank foreclosed on our rental back in 2009.
I have no idea where I will write next.