Friday, May 31, 2024

Gordon Street

From March to September 1991, I lived at 80 Gordon Street, in Brighton, Massachusetts. This was my first time paying rent for my own place. (I moved to Boston in January 1991, stayed one night with family, then was conveniently invited into house sitting at a co-worker's friend's place.) Gordon Street reminds me of the simpler though lonelier lifestyle I had back then. 

The apartment was simply a place to sleep, nothing more. Despite that, I didn't have a bed. It never occurred to me to buy one. I had a sleeping bag, and I slept directly on the floor. Word got around the office and a few months later a co-worker offered me a mattress he was getting rid of. I remember driving that used mattress in my tiny car from some North Shore town and being genuinely glad for it.

My apartment had two rooms, but because I didn't buy furniture one could be confused by their function. In the one room was the sleeping bag/mattress. In the other room was a folding table that had some books and an old computer. I rarely used that computer though. Instead, as a young workaholic in high-tech, I spent most of my waking hours at the office where there were far more interesting computers. Someone joked "Rick has more rooms than furniture." I laughed at the absurdity.

There was a small kitchen in that apartment. However, the one time I thought to cook something on the stove I was met with the reality that you have to call the utility company to turn on the gas. I had not done this. My diet in 1991 was served by national fast food chains and local fast food chains. And sometimes, a high-end restaurant. That's right: if co-workers were headed to nearby Michela's, a gorgeous and fancy destination restaurant, I'd sometimes tag along, somewhat out of place in casual clothes but solvent enough to mostly not care.

The mattress on the floor was soon accompanied by a beach chair I had bought. I'd sit in that chair to read or to write in a paper diary. There was a door that led to a tiny balcony. It overlooked a parking lot which I didn't have a permit for. In the kitchen the window overlooked the air well between the surrounding apartment buildings. Sometimes, if I saw someone across the way, I wondered if they were as lonely as I was.

When one of my co-workers asked if I wanted to join up with two other people in a larger apartment in downtown Boston, I leapt at the chance. I needed this invitation at that exact moment in my life. I must have broken my lease with the landlord immediately, but left all my moving plans for the absolute last minute. The morning of August 31, a loud knocking at my door woke me. When I opened it, I saw two parents and some children. They were the new tenants, and they were here to move in.

I hurriedly gathered my mattress and folded up my table and chair. I marveled at their furniture and their unpacking of kitchen implements. I stuffed my car with my meager belongings. I must have given this new tenant my key, though I don't remember. I then drove a few miles to the Back Bay. In that new apartment I had the smallest of the four rooms. My mattress and beach chair fit perfectly. 

80 Gordon Street (Google Maps)