31 August 2007

Monroe Street flashback

Friday before Labor Day weekend, extra day off! No plans. Damn the heat and humidity, I shall go wandering:

Walked over to Monroe Street, the site of my last home in Columbia Heights before leaving DC many years ago. It's not far from my current place, but I seldom have reason to walk that way, so that stretch between 14th and 16th streets always gives me a whiff of nostalgia.

It was about 1989, and I was renting a tiny share of a rowhouse basement, featuring a street-level view of walking feet, and the odd homeless Jamaican kick-boxing instructor sleeping on the steps outside my door. All this for a mere $125 per month. A bed-sheet tacked to the ceiling was my property-line, separating my area from the communal living room. There were anywhere from three to five people living in that small basement, hatching some very strange days. I had dubbed our place "Groovesville" and it fit, totally.

Our furnishings were typical poor-boy punk gear: We had the requisite cable-spool table, there was a barely functioning thrift-store television, and that SOFA...

It was "liberated" from an eviction down the street. We hefted the bastard back to our place in the snow, and after much effort, got the thing down the steps and in the door. It was a vile, filthy couch, covered in some harsh burlap-like material. Within weeks, it was decorated with a mad layer of graffiti and sprawling doodles.

The deal was simple: one could further "decorate" the couch but only if one was ripped to the tits on booze, dope, pills, or something. For the living-room centerpiece, we had a huge mason jar filled with a mix of speed tablets and thumb-tacks: My room-mate had assembled this evil thing in a moment of profound inspiration, and he was rocking proud of it. He always said ART needed to be dangerous again. I'm sure some of that jar's contents had a voice in illustrating the sofa.

It seems I was the only one in that basement madhouse that had a steady job, and dreams of something more. I was still working in Rockville as an "assistant dog groomer" in those days, but figured I had to leave town, find a "career" and eventually return to DC and BUY that friggin' house on Monroe Street. It was a dream. What the hell. The ultimate metaphor for success in life became the thought of moving UPSTAIRS. Into the REAL HOUSE, and perhaps see the rest of the bodies whose feet routinely walked by my dark window.

That was ages ago. I did eventually leave DC, found that "career" thing, and returned as planned. Bought a place last year, just a few blocks east of Groovesville, and marveled at the circular nature of life.

So last Thursday, Marian emailed me some details on a rowhouse that sold recently, on that same block of Monroe Street: "Isn't this where you lived?"

Well, no. It wasn't the same place, but it was a mere two doors away. Hence the idea of the Monroe Street walk today. It looked considerably more fixed-up than my old place, but it was essentially the same unit. And it sold for nearly (deep breath).........$790,000.........holy jumping sheep's christ.

So much for dreams coming true. If that's what these places are selling for now, despite the housing-market crash, forget it. What's that lottery up to now? What about that PowerBall thing??

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