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            I loved this place.

            I mean it was a rat trap and small. But it was all mine

            When you grow up in a family with six kids, you get to appreciate things like privacy and space.

            In fact, when I first got here, I thought this was heaven. I set up my easel and felt room enough to paint.

            It was just niche enough so I could feel comfortable.

            I confess my girl friend, Jane, figured into my moving here.

            How can any couple keep up a romance when both people are still living in their parents’ house?

            Someone always asks where you’re going or where you’ve been.

            At my house, I always had one of my sisters sticking her nose into my business at the wrong time, or barging into my room to borrow a tooth brush just when I was getting Jane’s bra unhooked.

            Jane loved the place, too.

            So much in fact she decided to move in with me, even though our romance already showed signs of fraying around the edges.

            Part of the tension had to do with living at home, and by the time I made the move, she was already frustrated with me. She had pestered me for more than a year.

            Jane was also changing.

            I met her young, before she had figured out what she wanted in the world.

            Being around me didn’t help. She got swept up into my dreams.

            She mistakenly believed being a starving artist was romantic, only later realizing “fringe” was often just another word for “failure.”

            She loved me just enough to continue on with the romance.

            But I think her love of the place made her move in – that Barefoot in the Park – stuff that made her miss the pealing paint, sagging stairs and missing floor tiles. She even donned a beret and for the first few weeks giggled the way she did when we first met, and with no younger sisters to poke their nose into our business, we made frequent love.

            She got bored again, and every once in a while slipped and called me “daddy” instead of my name, even taking on a pitched whine with me I had heard her use when trying to get something out of him.

            She always denied saying it. But I heard what I heard.

            By the time she moved out, the place was as crowded with old arguments as the old place had been with kids. You couldn’t turn a corner without encountering some old unresolved issue that had eventually led to a fight.

            I thought Jane’s leaving would sweep out those cobwebs and let me feel good again about the place – the way it did when I first moved in.

            To some degree, the place mellowed. The signs of fights faded, but were replaced by sadder memories of Jane that seemed more indelible and disturbing. I couldn’t look anywhere without remembering something about her. If I turned on a faucet in the shower, I thought I heard her calling from the other room.

            I started doodling instead of drawing. I began drinking more and more each night, enough to slur my words when I tried to call her.

            “You’re drunk,” she said each time I called, slamming down the phone on my replay.

            Living with ghosts, I decided was less of a problem than living with sisters. That’s why I’m moving back home in the morning.

            And yes, I am drunk.


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