The Very Small and Often Awkward Living Arrangements of Most People
So my family once rented this place up in Pars Piece, where the windows were always closed and the blinds were always drawn. Where the walls were like soft wood that buckled and bent. Where the floors were checkered and dizzying to look upon. Where the knick-knacks and the furniture moved ever so slightly when not paying attention.
This place, this place up in Pars Piece, on the corner of Arrow Black Golem Ave and Sleeping King Drive. This place that was too small, too tight, too uncomfortable for a kid of my height (and I am not a giant).
The front door was normal, the only part I assure you, but it opened into half an entry way. One could only ingress through the middle. You see, the ceiling came down low and the floor up too high. It was like a hole to squeeze through, and I was like a mouse when I left or came home to our humble home.
There were no halls, at our place up in Pars Piece. Each room was fit together like a series of children’s jigsaw puzzles that had been hastily forced together. Crammed into place as if with an oversized fist to make them fit when they should not have fit. The front room led to the bathroom and the bathroom led down to the stoop. The kitchen became the pantry and the closet which got me to my bedroom.
I often felt like our apartment was nestled between multiple other apartments in the building. Tucked away in the walls, like a secret corridor with a secret hatchway from someone’s bookshelf or odd painting. There were times when I waited for such a thing to happen. Sitting calmly, watching television. I half expected, that a wall panel should slide open and a mysteriously caped man wearing a deerstalker hat would back into my residence with some kind of scientifically mangled dead body he needed to dispose of. Never happened of course, but that didn’t stop the uneasy feeling that such a thing could happen...
I never truly knew which neighbors lived where exactly and it was difficult to complain. I couldn't tell who was below me or who was above. When some neighbors dropped things, the sound of clattering started in the ceiling corner and found its way down the wall to the floor.
How was this possible? Where do I send the broom handle, where do I wrap the floor or wall or ceiling to show my displeasure?
Sometimes I could hear people arguing below me only to suddenly move their heated conversation to the kitchen which apparently was right next to my parent's bedroom, and then back and back again and back and back again still. Where they were coming from and where they were going...I could not tell. Above or below? Both, I cannot say how, it is impossible according to the laws of physics and it seemed as though my apartment somehow resided in a pocket dimension where these laws seemingly did not apply.
"I often felt like our apartment was nestled between multiple other apartments in the building. Tucked away in the walls, like a secret corridor with a secret hatchway from someone’s bookshelf or odd painting."
I began to take on a rather extreme sense of disorientation, and vertigo to boot. At that place in Pars Piece I began to forget what was up & down and what was what. I would wake in my bed, on a mattress set diagonally to fit in my small bedroom. After getting up in the morning, before leaving for school, I would see the walls begin to bend, see them shift diagonally. And I noticed the ceiling drifting downwards steadily, as if in decline. But if I moved to the other side of my cramped and impossibly small quarters, the same effect seemed normal. Everything was in it’s proper place from a different angle. Like a magic eye picture, the perspective revealed itself if I suddenly crossed my eyes or stared long enough into a vast nothingness.
Then without warning, something would slip or fall suddenly. My alarm clock, my clothes or the spare change from my pockets. It was as if there was a dynamic shift in the weight of the world. If I leaned back too far, to my unfortunate discovery I would slip and fall as well. I would tumble backwards over myself only to land in a perfect seated position as if I had never moved. But there I was, I had barely moved at all. Mere inches away from where I had been with no proper way to explain what happened.
It didn't stop there, the dining room and the living room were one in the same. One day I noticed this, after school when I was sitting down for a snack. That was when I noticed the scuff marks up there. Upon further investigation I found it was true, in the absence of light fixtures protruding down from above, somehow there had been a full set of furniture there completely upside down. A couch, a television, a set of expandable dinner trays. All clear signs that these furniture pieces had been there, been removed, and now where gone, but how or why was a mystery to me.
With a flashlight I scanned for holes, for screws, for signs of worn slots and frayed wood. For spots where brackets might have been fastened and screws to be set into place. After all, how would all of these things stayed upside-down? Was it tape, was it glue, was it something I hadn't thought of? And what was the point of a doubly fully furnished room on both the floor and the ceiling? And how did they...whomever they were...get up there and stay up there? Perhaps it was a joke, perhaps it was some sort of avant garde interior decoration my parents had seen on TV. Perhaps it was a bold statement or an art piece or both. Our place all up and up and up in Pars Piece.
The absolute worst was when I got used to it and the whole rest of the world started going...wrong. When I left to go school in the morning, it seemed as though the whole universe needed to be righted. Like everything was slightly off kilter and needed to be pushed back into place. But only so slightly, the least bit of a nudge...and I tried to put things right when there would have been no reason to do otherwise.
Dogs walked with their heads slightly off to the side and their owners sluggishly followed behind slacked leashes. The tires on most automobiles seemed low and depressed causing one side to sink even further then the other. Birds on a lower tree brach sung their bird songs a bit deeper then the ones on branches above them. All of the chairs in my classes wobbled just enough so that I could rock back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth....
Needless to say, it was impossible for me to find comfort as I had no proper sense of upright and regular. If there was a slant in the sidewalk I found myself sideways. Any hill or bump or incline reduced me to profound confusion. Any potholes open and gaping, and I would fall into it despite my best intentions not to.
I resolved that our apartment up in Pars Piece was to blame, and there was nothing that could be done about it.