November 27, 2001

Had a very strong nightmare Thanksgiving night. I had neighbors who were close friends, a European couple. They had a sumptuously spacious apartment (although, in real life, the apartments in this building are all the same, just mirror-images on either side). The apartment was so light and airy, many windows, both open spaces with linking archways and nice old-fashioned cubbyhole rooms, all wood, mantlepieces and cupboards. Then, they committed suicide. First the man, then the woman, jumped off the roof. I had a particular grief for the man, thinking his death was a loss for the world; he was kind and funny and multimedia knowledgeable and an artist. They had everything to live for. Their deaths had a sinister, secret, seamy underside vibe.

Immediately as word got out, the building was besieged by apartment-seekers. I'd always coveted their flat, and thought if they ever moved out, I should get first dibs. And it didn't seem right strangers should shoehorn in because of tragedy. So, although I felt mercenary, I called the landlord (who was kindly and reasonable, not my real landlord who's taken me to court many times), and he agreed to lease me the apartment. Somehow I have the lease in front of me (also background of attractive young people in hall, at door, looking for the super, wanting the flat)... and I see that the rent is $1600 a month. I had no idea my friends were paying that much. I couldn't see how I'd possibly be able to commit to coming up with that kind of money. And yet, thinking about being tethered to my affordable, but oppressively tiny, apartment for aeons to come, thinking about this beautiful space, how much my life would change to live in it (faint ominous undertone of menace, however, in the prospect), I wanted it terribly much. Somewhere in here I came across a small journal-like notebook the guy had left for me to find, saying that they wanted me to have their apartment, and had left money for me, and I search the apartment and dark, New Orleans-atmosphere city, tracing his last steps (to nightclubs and strip joints) for an envelope of cash. But even if they left me some.. how could it cover even one months' rent? How would they have that kind of money put away? They lived charmingly, but boho-spare. everything seemed to hinge on how much money might be in the envelope.

While I'm looking for the money, word reaches me from the landlord. I've dithered too long. He just got a call from some absurdly pompously-named guy with a title from England.. who he rented the apartment to.

It seems to me that the key to this dream must lie in the murky parts I've forgotten; a sense that the couple had a houseguest, a woman, for awhile, and she, first, had jumped off the roof. A sense of apology in the journal that my friend was not who he presented as, there was a secret life. The details of the flat's furnishings and layout. And the exact pathway of the search for the money, where I seemed to meet people who expected me, had messages for me. Otherwise, I don't get it. And it had a more horrifying feeling to it than some NY real-estate joke.

The couple most reminded me of Rob and Monique, an impossibly creative and hip Dutch couple who did environmental performance art, video, and sound/light setups for clubs. Rob worked as the sysadmin/troubleshooter/tech for DCTV, a community television production nonprofit in a gorgeous old firehouse. They biked everywhere. Rob was the first man I saw to ever wear a skirt, matter-of-factly, and with a topknot and his stunning physique and chiseled face, he looked like an aryan samurai. One Fourth of July, back before no-tolerance, the firecrackers from kids in the street went on and on and on, and Rob went out on 11th street, naked, and just stood there, still, until everyone stopped. Rob was crazy about Monique, knew she was the one the night they met and campaigned to make her realize it, too. She didn't want kids, but they moved to Japan, and I got three birth announcements, gorgeous silkscreens. The one for Bo, their eldest, reads "Born, I open my eyes to the light."

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