my living room was small with shabby carpeting. toonser's litter box was a prominant fixture, as there was no out-of-the-way place to store it. the photographer took great interest in watching my cat crap. he'd stop what he was doing and snort. "look! look! he's going! he's so regular!" my bedroom was the size of a hallway. my bed jammed into a corner. you had to walk through my bedroom, climbing over the bed, to get to the bathroom. you had to stand on the toilet to shut the bathroom door. i shared a thin wall with my next-door neighbor, an older woman who was privy to my every thought -- not to mention any shifting in my bed and each helping of velveeta shells and cheese. when she sneezed, i caught a cold.
when i took out my garbage, i was subjected to the sexual bidding of my unemployed neighbors. they sat on the fire escape drinking beer and asking for fries with that shake. "i'm just recycling some stuff," i'd say. and they'd drool like rabid pit bulls.
there wasn't a tree for blocks.
my life was a strict diet of home, pioneer, barnes & noble. on my weekends, i ditched out for rochester, once making the trek in less than 3 hours.
occasionally i'd look at the largest freshwater urinal, surprised, like it had just cropped up that day. "ah, yes, the lake," i'd remember. an old boyfriend whose name i'd forgotten.
in may of 2002, i was lured from the pioneer to pizza luce with the promise of local music and a forray with some nongeriatric sorts. my friends left early, but i was enthralled with the bumping and crowd surfing and the women outside, grinding on the lake avenue windows. i stuck around, intent on having the kind of fun you can only have along and unencombered by catering to the whims of a group. i didn't necessarily participate in the scene. i stood on a back table watching and chatting with a stranger from my home town who knew my brother.
2 a.m. came and passed and they'd stopped serving beer at least an hour earlier, but the party went on.
"holy crap," i thought. "this town is fun!"
and so i continued to loathe duluth. bitch and bitch and bitch. the pioneer and my apartment and afterbars with natty light and hamburger helper. watching the sun come up and my cat crap in the center of my living room. but for one week out of the year, i came to love duluth. purposely driving down superior street to see crowds of people. people my age. not necessarily unattractive people my age having fun. homegrown became a destination on my calender. last year i actually stood in line to get into luce. there may have been a velvet rope. the bouncer talked about fire marshalls. i pretended i was a celebrity. it didn't work.
i no longer hate duluth. that went away last summer, jogging through chester bowl and realizing that above me, a semblence of civilization was happening. yet, here, on these paths, i could strip off my sports bra and soak it in the creek and put it back on without the threat of being arrested.
this makes this week even better. i'm not bringing any hate to the party. homegrown gets to be fun on top of what is already fun. i hit the tale end of the first night sunday night at pizza luce. i drank $2 cans of pabst and heard about four songs and woke with an appropriate hangover and thought: sweet. six more nights to go.