The house I moved into has a white picket fence around it, which is hilarious because inside we’re living out a Raymond Carver story, the early years, the stripped down Gordon Lish horror show years, but with YouTube. We listen to a lot of sad ballads on YouTube.
Earlier in the week, my roommate Jesse encountered a nest of wasps who unmercifully attacked his foot with their sharp stingers, and their poison has been coursing through his veins ever since. He hobbles into the house after a day of working, his body broken. Jesse is a ball of thorns wrapped in thick, dark skin. He grits his teeth and says, “I run on hate and pain!” I think he is speaking literally. When I touch him, I can feel hate and pain brewing under the surface. I’m trying to find the most prudent way to love him.
Jesse’s an orphan and a roofer and he stares at me for what I consider to be uncomfortable lengths of time. He tells me I move through the world awkwardly, which I already knew but it’s always devastating to be reminded. He said to me, “I feel embarrassed for you sometimes,” and well, that makes two of us.
The first week I lived here he asked me where he could read some of my writing, and I told him about this blog. I watched him read through every post, and he laughed in a way I found uncomfortable and a little terrifying. Every day since, he asks me, “Have you updated your blog yet?” He says he wants me to write about him. People often don’t mean that, I find. Actually, most people don’t even say that. We will see.
Jesse is almost always mad at me, and I find it frustrating and exhilarating. I keep trying to learn the rules, but they’re always changing. There are no rules! He’s got bright white teeth and expressive eyebrows. He rotates between a few torn up t-shirts and camouflage cargo shorts. Jesse stares at himself in the mirror constantly. I find him egotistical and difficult.
When I watch Jesse pick the best cucumbers out of a pile of cucumbers, I start to fall in love with him, and then he opens his mouth and says something. So far we’ve managed to avoid the awkward situation of meeting a person on craigslist who then immediately becomes your live-in boyfriend by not calling it that. Fool-proof plan.
Here are two more facts about the house:
1. An old woman who lived here for 30 or 40 years before us fell on a knife in the kitchen and died. The little kids at the elementary school across the street thought she was a witch. I’m pretty sure her ghost lives here.
2. There was a piano before I moved in, but the summer subletters stole it.