Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Aimless Reading: The J's, Part 10 (Devin Johnston)

Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Johnston, Devin

Purchased online.

2001: I met Lori in March of 2001. We decided to move in together in July. We rented a huge apartment at 63 Ashland Avenue. It was probably the nicest apartment either of us ever lived in. It was the second floor of a big old Victorian painted deep forrest green with black and red trim. I remember the staircase had wallpaper from the 1940s which, if memory serves, depicted sylvan hunting scenes or something along those lines.

The door to the apartment opened into a very long corridor. To the right, the corridor ended in a massive double living room, divided by a pair of simple columns. You entered into a library area. We kept my books and CD's and the stereo there. We also had a groovy chaise longue that Lori had re-upholstered. There was a leaded glass window on one wall and a large bay on another. In the center of the room, just before the divide we had a circular wooden dining table in the bay-windowed alcove. The other half of the living room had a fireplace, television, two couches. French doors opened onto a little screened-in sun porch.

Directly across the hall from the front door was the door to our bedroom. The room had a built-in wooden wardrobe and a beautiful stained glass window that reflected a lovely pink light into the room in the morning. There were two more bedrooms off the corridor. Lori used the one next to our bedroom as a work area and I used the one opposite as my study. The corridor then took a sharp right and and then a sharp left and ended at the bathroom.

To the right of the bathroom we had a stunning dining room with nearly floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out onto the back yard. We painted the walls a deep red that glowed so brightly at night it looked from the outside as if we had a red light on in the room. We bought a secondhand dining set made of a blonde wood. Opposite the dining room was a small kitchen las refurbished in the sixties.

The events of September 11 occurred not long after we moved in. I remember being awakened by a phone call from my part-time job at Just Buffalo. The first thing I heard when I woke was Cass Clarke's gravelly voice saying that someone had crashed a plane in to the World Trade Center and did I have the phone number of one of the writers that worked in our education program. I gave her the number, then went back to sleep.

A little while later, I woke up, made coffee, and was about to go into my office to work when I recalled that thing about the plane. I turned on the television to see Peter Jennings face. To the side I could see a cloud of smoke and then all of the sudden one of the towers began to collapse. At first, Jennings didn't notice. He just kept narrating as the tower fell to the ground and a cloud of debris rose into the air. For a second it didn't seem like it could be real because Peter Jennings hadn't said anything about it. And then he saw it and he said something like, O dear. And that was it. It was gone.

We lived happily in our Ashland abode for two years, during which time I made the decision not to write my dissertation and to take my current job at Just Buffalo. We decided to buy a house. We spent all of the spring of 2003 looking for one and eventually found a fancy-looking victorian in the Black Rock neighborhood of Buffalo, about two blocks from the firehouse where Robert Creeley and his family lived.

from Aversions


When talking to myself,
I take a tone I've learned

from you--not of boyish charm,
but probing and severe--

to say,
some things are clear
and some withdrawn from sight.

A cyclist is only such
while seated on a bike,

a sleeper while asleep.
These forms are only forms

fulfilled, as you are now
no more than this--a tone.


Michele Summerlin said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and thought I'd let you know how much I enjoy the reminiscences of past living spaces.

Michael Kelleher, Buffalo, NY said...

Thanks for reading, Michelle. Always happy to find new people out there. I see you have a blog, too -- I'll be sure check it out.