I live on the second floor of a beautiful apartment building.
I bet you’re wondering how I live in such a nice place when I am so poor. I wonder that sometimes, too. The short answer is:
- Credit cards
- The apartment is supposed to be a 2-bedroom, but we converted it into a 3-bedroom
- It’s technically a 4-bedroom if you count the kitchen hallway Arya often naps in
Tonight, like most nights for the past few weeks, it’s snowing. There are small snow-drifts tucked into the corners of our living room window. It’s the stuff stock photographers would swoon over.
Whenever it snows, my roommates and I [and the various men that visit the apartment] leave our boots in the hallway. None of us can stand the salt stains the melting snow leaves on our beautiful hardwood. Instead, the regal tile flooring of the stairwell is covered in a mixture of salt, mud, water, and tiny piles of snow.
It’s the kind of night where you just want to stay in and drink some wine [maybe a whole bottle, because that’s what sad single people do] so I invite my best girl-friend over to sit on the couch and do nothing with me. Because drinking by yourself means you might have a problem.
While our boots sweat snow and chemicals in the hallway, we savor spoonfuls of homemade beef stew and watch Reese hike the PCT in Wild. [It’s my favorite movie, by the way.]
Just as Reese [Cheryl Strayed] is throwing her last sacred boot over the edge of a cliff, Arya begins to pace the carpet. And even though I just took her out to pee an hour ago, I am a nervous dog mom, so I step away from the movie and leash her up for a quick walk.
After she is leashed, I open the apartment door to reach for my boots in the hallway. I try to avoid stepping on the slushy, chemically mess, but my boots are too far away. With a grimace, I tip-toe over to my boots, and struggle for a solid two minutes pulling them on. [The wine didn’t help, but being sober doesn’t help with those bad boys either.]
My feet are wet, and my toes squish unpleasantly together. The salt chunks I stepped on cling to my socks. I think about the chemicals burning through my socks and then searing my skin. But it doesn’t matter, because at least three minutes have gone by, and my dog might have to pee.
I turn around, and there is Arya, the World’s Most Perfect Dog, tail flopping repeatedly on the floor, looking at me like I’ve maybe had too much to drink [but that’s none of her business].
I grab her leash and head for the stairs.
One minute I am walking ahead as I always do. Not thinking about anything [but thinking about everything at the same time, like humans do] and the next minute I’m at the bottom of the stairs.
Okay. Okay. Ouch.
I don’t think I’ve ever fallen down stairs before. How did this happen? My boots were wet from the snow. The marble stairs were also wet. Let’s just try not to blame the wine here, okay? Arya walks down the stairs gracefully; I dropped her leash during The Fall. She makes a small noise and licks my face.
I take a moment to survey my injuries.
I’ve landed on my hip. I think my butt hit a couple corners on the way down. I don’t think anything is broken, but I feel my hip bruising. I worry about the salt is staining my dark-wash jeans. I worry my friend heard me fall and will think it’s because I drank too much. I worry my life is just going to keep on sucking. Then the pain comes. Slowly at first, then much sharper, like the soul-crushing screech of the Green Line.
My whole body aches. My heart aches. I would usually cry under these circumstances, but for once, I don’t. I just breathe.
Arya sits down next to me, because let’s face it — she doesn’t really have to pee, I just worry about her too much. I think humans have a tendency to overanalyze the projected “emotions” of dogs. But for one small moment, Arya and I just look at each other. Her big brown eyes don’t waver. How is it possible to love a dog so much in such a short amount of time? I heave a sigh. I tell her she’s a good girl and press her snout against my cheek. She flops her tail a few times as if to say, “maybe this will be funny in the morning.”
I feel like I keep falling down stairs in my life. We could blame the wine, or not paying attention, or the packed snow on my boots, or the wet hallway. It doesn’t matter how it happened. I fell, and now I’m down here. And it really hurts. But at least now I have someone down in the muddy, salty, snowy dirt with me. And she’s pretty stinkin’ cute.