Never buy a home that has a toilet in the kitchen.
One may think this is common knowledge, while others may know it is simply something one must deal with if you want to live (cheaply(-ish)) in Manhattan. For a mere grand a month you can have a lovely 10x14 studio equipped with the essentials within less than spitting distance from one another! Who needs walls?!
Anywho, I was 23 and had been saving up to rent my very own studio in downtown Manhattan. Here, I thought, would be peace much like the high heavens, leaving me to write day in and day out, without bother. After hunting endlessly on craigslist and going to numerous open houses I finally stumbled upon, what appeared to be, the best of the best for the price range I was looking to be in.
To sum it up I saw the studio, hated it, didn’t understand how anyone could possibly live like that, but took it anyway. I’d rather have my own bathroom than share a communal. I thought. Ew.
A few months in I felt it to be extremely distracting to write in the closet sized box I had rented myself. The walls were paper-thin and the toilet trickled and gulped without pause. I made my new home at the back corner of the Housing Works Book Store and jabbed away at my MacBook every weekday. I set myself a scheduled, to avoid insanity, which often occurs out of having an unstructured life (for me anyway), and usually arrived home at 5 to have my scheduled supper, typically a turkey burger or something of that nature.
One cold Fall Wednesday I became so hungry I could not bare having to wait until my clock out time, so I packed up and headed home an hour early. In sitting in a café (there was a café in the back of the book store) you may think this problem would never arise but I couldn’t afford to spend money on things like that, so I always brown bagged it in. Everyone was too stoned to care or even take notice that I never spent a dime. I hustled home to avoid the despicable wind and two stepped it up my five-floor walk up. Who needs a gym?
Entering the door I heard that damn trickle and considered breaking my own rules and eating out just to avoid that god awful sound. Opening the door I realized this was no trickle at all, it was a full-blown river. A river flowing from the ceiling. The shower was on. Someone was in my shower! (Did I forget to mention the shower hung over my cabinets and poured into a small drain into the kitchen floor? Oh, that wasn’t the part that struck you as odd?) There was a naked, fairly attractive man, soaping himself in my kitchen. Well in my bathroom. Living room. Bedroom. All the same. You’d think I’d be more disturbed by this, yell rape or fire or naked but I honestly did not panic at any point and ended up being completely curious. Initially I had one of those “I want to scream but no noise comes out” reactions, purely out of being startled, I frequently have those dreams and didn’t realize that it could actually occur. Until now, of course.
“Um, excuse me sir?” I asked in a calm manner.
“Ahhhh, oh my god, oh my god, don’t look!” He reached for my dishtowel. Covering just his parts.
“Sorry, did I interrupt?”
“Wait let me just get dressed”
“Why sure, can I make you some tea also?”
“Well…that would be lovely, thanks”
And for some reason or another I walked through his sopping soapy pool and put on a pot of water. The only drug I had had that day was caffeine.
While kitchen towel man got dressed and gathered his items I sat, without saying a word. Once ready he joined me on an adjacent stool, a mismatched stools for my high-rise “kitchen” table.
“I’m Marc by the way”
“Hello Marc, I’m Katelynn, and this is my place”
“It’s quite nice”
“Mmm, isn’t it, now might I ask what you’re doing here? The only wieners boiled in this kitchen are tofu pups”
“This may seem strange but my shower hasn’t been working…”
“Well by all means!”
“…I live next door” odd, since I’d never seen him before but I can’t say I’ve seen many since moving in “and I hear you leave and come back at the same time every day. Assuming you had a 9 to 5 I thought I’d take advantage and you’d never notice. I didn’t mean to be a creep.”
“You’re a creep, I think I’m relieved that your not a murderer or anything, although I’m not sure what’s worse considering I have to live next to you now. What did you do pick the lock?”
“No we share a fire escape, I just lift the window”
“So you’ve done this before”
He didn’t answer, just looked down. I drifted off thinking of the few times I’ve braved it on the fire escape to smoke a cigarette and realizing that the window next to mine looks directly into my neighbor’s bathroom (yes he has an actual bathroom) I always too chicken shit to look in, you know sneak a peak. Upon realization I thought I could easily get him back for this but I suppose he already did that for me and displayed what I was too afraid to look at, in my kitchen-living room-bathroom-bedroom.
The weirdest part about this whole situation is not that I avoided scolding him it’s as he was leaving, still apologizing profusely, he climbed out my window, onto the fire escape, and into his apartment. I didn’t have a lot, but I did have a door. My life is completely backwards.