Friday, August 20, 2010

Aimless Reading: The J's, Part 2.8 (Henry James)

James, Henry
Complete Stories 1884-1891


Purchased at the Niagara Falls Outlet Mall Discount Book Store.

I spent the summer of 1988 living back at my parents' home. I waited tables at Casa Maria and in the fall I moved into a townhouse in Burke, VA with one of my co-workers and his friend.

1988: Our townhouse was typical of the hundreds of thousands of townhouses that began springing up in Fairfax County, VA in the 80's. Near the mall where I worked, growth during that decade averaged something like ten new multi-story office complexes per year. By the time I'd graduated college, this suburban city had its own skyline. And all those worker-bees needed hives.

Ours was a beige end-unit. All were beige. All sided with vinyl siding. All with pitched, single-surface roofs. We had no garage, but there was plenty of parking. It was an enormous place to live for three college students. Walking up five concrete steps to the front door, one entered on the ground floor, which contained an eat-in kitchen, full dining room and a sunken living room, all carpeted in some kind of neutral, except for the--wait, I think there was another townhouse before that.

Gosh, I can remember we lived first in another townhouse, a brick one. Not an end unit. You entered into a foyer, with a small kitchen to the left, then a small dining room and sunken living room. Upstairs were two bedrooms and a master suite. We must have moved to the other later. Weird, I can't remember what happened. I had a girlfriend at the first one. She went away to school. When she came home for the holidays, she dumped me. When she dumped me, we were in the beige townhouse.

Ok, to continue with that...I think the kitchen had vinyl flooring. Upstairs were a bedroom and a master suite, blus a bathroom. One of my roommates kept a .45 under his mattress, which always made me uncomfortable. Once, I played a joke. I hid a bunch of our CD's and stereo equipment and pretended we had been robbed. (Side note: Both of my roommates were materialistic gear heads who eventually started dealing drugs so they could have better equipment.) Before I knew it he had that gun out and was pointing around every corner in anticipation of the crook still being there. I think that was the last practical joke I ever played.

This townhouse had a built-out basement with a TV room, bedroom, bathroom and laundry. I lived in the basement room. I only went to George Mason for about six weeks. I found the large state school with classes of 200 hundred plus people a bit too impersonal. My addictions, aided and abetted by my roommates and all my restaurant co-workers, were spinning out of control at that point. Things were bleak. I almost checked myself into re-hab when my father suggested maybe I needed another change of scenery.

I nearly returned to Wheeling, but then my soon-to-be ex suggested I transfer to Boston College to be near her. I said I thought the fact that I had dropped out of GM with a zero point GPA would hurt me in that regard. She said, "Do you have to tell them about GM?" I hadn't thought of that. I applied there and to Fairfield and to Fordham, all Jesuit schools, assuming my Jesuit background would help. I got into Fordham, rejected by the other two, which was just as well, given she broke up with me soon thereafter.

I moved to the Bronx in January, 1989.

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