It’s been ten years since I first joined my small host of friends in he Windsor apartment in Springfield, MO. It’s a been hard to realize that. It seems like it was so recent, and yet, it is already fading in my memory. Ten years ago, I was 19, broke and depressed. I guess the only thing that has changed is the first number in my age. I happened to have a pretty good sized apartment in the basement of an old building in Springfield called The Windsor. The floors were aged hardwood, covered in scratches and scuffs. The walls were cinderblock foundation and concrete. There was no central heat or air conditioning. The apartment ran on a fuse box and in the summer, we had to replace the fuses ever few days as they wall unit AC blew them out. While it was technically a one bedroom apartment, the one bedroom was a tiny thing, barely big enough for a full sized bed and a computer desk. The closet was almost as big as the bedroom. The living room, however, was enormous. It was twenty feet by twenty feet, with a good ten square foot as a “dining area” between it and the kitchen. It was a hollow cave of an apartment that has been described a thousand times as being perfect for me.
That apartment had been given to me as a godsend. I have never been good with money, and after my first six months in alone in Springfield I was barely more than homeless. I was crashing with my brother and his wife and working nights as a dishwasher at IHOP. One of our regulars found herself in a pretty big jam. A family emergency had come up and she had to move back to Seattle, which we all know is a billion light years from Springfield, MO. I needed a place to live. She needed someone to take over her lease. I moved in with next to no possessions to an apartment furnished with a space heater and a futon. It wasn’t much, but it was mine. Still, when you’re me and you’re depressed, the last thing you want to do is live alone.
It just happened that at the same time that I was moving into that apartment, one of my new IHOP friends was getting divorced. She decided to come to my housewarming party, just a couple of work friends, her, and one of my boffer brothers. Frank, my boffer bro, needed some cheering up that night. He was in a bad way because his mother had died that day. I wanted to give him all the comfort I could, but I was 19 and stupid. He was still in high school, though he was 18, himself. It was hard for me to be in the situation I was in. My sister-in-law was a high school teacher, and several of her students played Eldaraenth. I was young. I was 17 when I graduated high school. Her students were basically the same age I was. It was hard for me to separate my friendship with them from the respect she deserved from them. I didn’t grow up as quickly as most people would like to think I had. I was young, dumb, and… well, you know how the cliché goes.
That night I had devised a plan to hook up with one of the waitresses from IHOP. It was the kind of thing an asshole does, and I was an asshole to the highest order. I guess I still am in some ways. I didn’t really care about the emotional politics involved in the people around me. I wasn’t aware that other people had emotions back then. I barely did. When you’re depressed long enough, you become numb to the emotions of other people. During that party, when Frank was barely holding himself together from the grief and drinking left over Mexican beer from the previous tenant. I was making a royal ass of myself. I wish I could say it was the only time I’ve made an ass of myself because of a woman, but I think we can all be assured that it wasn’t. I probably wouldn’t be wrong to say I haven’t seen the last time I make an ass of myself over a lady, over lust. I like to think I’m more aware of my own weakness these days, but knowing the poison and refusing it are two different things entirely.
It was at that small get together that I learned two things:
1) I am as far from being a ladies man player as you can get without being a eunuch.
2) Some people really get turned on by bad teenaged writing, poorly drawn cartoons, and self-flagellation.
I hooked up with my friend going through her divorce.
The memory seems like a whirlwind of events all thrown together, now, but when it happened, each step made sense. Before I knew it, I was all but living with this woman that I had hooked up with at a party, and my apartment was more or less sitting empty. That was when I invited my friend to move into it as a roommate. That friend is my current RoomLord. His adventures in young and dumb are his own, although we shared many of them in that apartment. We had a second roommate at first, but when he impersonated me to the land lady one day, I kicked him out. I broke off the increasingly uncomfortable and codependent relationship I was in and moved back into the Windsor myself.
Here’s the thing about breakups in close knit groups of friends. One of you wins the break up and gets the friends. When we broke up, it was an epic argument that ripped several friendships in sunder, and some of our friends were left adrift. Someone, RoomLord (who at the time was simply Roommate) and I let those friends drift into our apartment. First one, then another, and another, until eventually, there were five of us living in a one bedroom apartment. Though, to be honest, we were the gathering station for most of our friends at that time, so the apartment usually had more like seven or eight people in it. It was a commune in it’s own way. We were artists, revolutionaries and nut-bags to the person, but we were also serving as a surrogate family for each other. It was a cocoon for most of us to grow into something else.
A lot of things happened in the Windsor apartment. I am finally at a place where I feel like I can tell some of those stories.
Don’t worry, friends, I’m planning on changing the names of the not-so-innocent.
The Windsor was the last place that I lived where I felt like I was moving towards my dreams. I was a writer. I was an artist. I was a madman. I miss it.
There were dark things that happened there, also. The Windsor was the home of some copious amounts of under-aged drinking. The Windsor was a place of insanity, arguments, and on one occasion some mild debauchery. The Windsor was where I first took the pills. The Windsor was where I first felt guilty for emotions.
It was also the place where I turned some friends from close acquaintances became some of the best friends a person can ever have, and where some close friends became brothers.
The Windsor wasn’t just an apartment. It was The Apartment. It was the place where my life formed. It was the place where I marinated. It was my home.
If I’m going to remember how I used to do these things with words that made people believe I had talent, I have to go back to that place. I have to remember who I was then. I have to overcome the complacency that has consumed me since then.
There are stories there. Some are mine.
I mean to tell them.
Sorry, Mom. You’re probably not going to like reading any of this.
Tags: Friends, memories, Springfield