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I’m thinking about his apartment.

The plumbing didn’t work.

Well, it worked sporadically.

His toilet would flush…sometimes.

His bathtub emptied itself…when it felt like it.

His kitchen sink drained…theoretically. He said it did, but I never witnessed it performing such a feat.

His toilet seat had mold coming up, from underneath. I did not lift it to see how bad it was, but I’m sure he saw it in all of its green glory daily.

Was this a sign? That everything was in its place, but the infrastructure was flawed? That the smooth hardwood floors which greeted the bare pads of my feet whenever I would leave his bedroom housed pipes that had, for all intents and purposes, stopped time?

Our living spaces reflect us.

A huge bed in an otherwise empty bedroom indicates something broken in one’s sexuality. A hyper focus that comes from a lack of other things that add value.

A massive entertainment system in a home where the furniture is broken down, uncomfortable, or cheap (save, of course, for the couch) shows a need to be distracted, shows an unwillingness to look within.

A kitchen stocked to the gills with pots and pans, cook books, always a mess, always dishes in the sink, means someone loves to cook. Means passion. Opening a refrigerator door tells you what kind of person you are with. Do they eat out often? Do they have vegetables? Is it all beer? You know your man.

We build these things without knowing. We build reflections of ourselves in the spaces around us.

I hate when I walk into typical Orange County homes. Everything is beige and travertine, everything is bought at Homegoods or Macy’s. It shows that they would rather look good — and like everyone else — than know themselves and have a home that is uniquely them. Fear of nonconformity. Inability to be anything other than what they are shown to be.

I went to this man’s apartment probably six years ago. Most of the lights didn’t work. There was trash everywhere. The bathroom looked like I would be stabbed should I have entered. The tub, I can’t even describe the design. The walls were scribbled on in chalk, sharpie, and possibly food.

He was broken.

He was hung like a goddamned fucking horse, but he was broken.

Alex. I can almost see his face when I think of him. Almost.

So I look at Chris.

I look at this man and his apartment.

Everything is simple, purposeful, and elegant. Minimal in just the right way and amount. Personal items placed with a professional eye. His shirts in stacks along his dresser, his closet color-coded. His big, beautiful bed and its down comforter in black and emerald. Everything coordinated, life by design.

And yet his pipes didn’t work.

Nothing moved.

The water would sit on top of itself, still and stagnant, until it began its slow leak past whatever was stopping its movement. Until it was gone. Until a small ring of water sat around the drain, unable to get enough weight behind it to move forward, creating a permanent stain.

He said it had been like that for a long time.

When I’d go to flush and it wouldn’t work, I’d pop the lid off the tank and give the mechanism inside a tap. It’d immediately start to fill, a gritty, empty watery noise, gravel grinding, bubbles on metal, a plastic heart struggling to beat inside a porcelain body.

What does this mean?

Does it mean anything at all?


Part 3 of 3 feature installments in the Nerve series Case Files: Exploring bedrooms and the men who inhabit them.

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