I left late for Santa Barbara on the shortest day of the year.
The 101 was weirdly empty. No rush hour. No cops. Not much of anyone going anywhere. No one to see me pull over because the box lamp took a header en route, flipped end-over-end and suck one corner into the upholstery of my dad’s new Tahoe.
It’s a strange feeling to walk around normally well-populated places when no one’s around. As corny as it may sound, it made me feel like breaking into some cold set from a movie about me.
I’d actually forgotten to expect a deserted Isla Vista. Winter break. Quite possibly that last winter break I’ll enjoy without the obligation of a nine-to-five. The idea of pulling into the Pasado House driveway had been tying knots for the whole drive. I halfway expected a big, smoking crater, so seeing the house basically intact made me feel good, even if the backyard was littered in a way that made it looks like we were having a yard sale for all our rain-soaked cardboard.
The inside was manageably dirty, especially considering how bad it could have been. And from Monday afternoon on, I’ve pretty much been working on eliminating my presence from that house. Oddly, I didn’t even mind having to clean the living room and kitchen and backyard when Subleaser Keith saw the mess and began doubting whether the Pasado House was the right place to be living. I’ve done it so many times, it was lamely familiar to be vacuuming that same pool table green carpet.
But I empathized with the new guy. If I were him and just getting to Isla Vista, I’m not sure I’d want to live there either. Like he pointed out, the place “has potential.” It totally does. I’m sure that’s why the girls ended up there to begin with. For me, the Pasado House has more than potential. It has history.
When I think about how many people from my various intersecting social circles have actually called 6768 Pasado Road home at one point or another, I have to count with both hands. It started out with Meghan, Brie, Monique, Taryn and Shana. Jesusa and Natasha subleased. Then I moved in that summer, followed by Nate. Then we had those shithead subleasers, Drunko and Kaspar. Then Jill finally moved in. Then Cory moved in that summer while Owen and Beth subleased. Then Tristan and Glenn. Then the pasty one and the Russian potato subleaser. Then Kristen. Then Jono and Skippy. And now Subleaser Keith, who thankfully seems intent on keeping the place nice, if the present shithole décor hasn’t completely scared him off. And, somehow, I feel Hillary O’s presence as strong as anyone’s, simply because her whole living room set presently resides in the house.
In my mind, all of these people still belong there. I remember them being there. And they all still seem to receive mail there. (Admittedly, fake people such as Gilles Tanguay, Fannie Fay Silverstein, the entire Colossocorp staff and Cassidy Madison Reed also still receive a great deal of mail there.)
I can remember sitting in the living room with some assortment of some of the roommates — I can even remember who it might have been — and wondering how old that house was and if a family used to life there when the far bedroom was still an apartment and, if so, what purpose the Taryn-Moe bedroom might have had. A den? A nursery? Did some little kid grow up there?
In a few years, that house will be out of our chain of friends for good. Whoever lives there probably will never know about all the cool stuff that happened there — all the puke and beer and sex fluids spilled in that house and all the good stories behind each individual spillage, all senses of all virginities lost, all theme parties appropriately attended and all petty fights shouted and gossip spread and songs drunkenly sung along to and movies drunkenly fallen asleep to.
Before I left for Washington, I broke apart the wine barrel potter that had been home to this large succulent bush. As the plant got bigger, the barrel had begun to burst at the seams and I figured the plant would grow itself to death if given enough time. I dug a hole in the corner of the yard, a non-intrusive spot where I hoped people would leave it alone. It’s alive now and as healthy as ever, so if it can withstand Cory and Tristan’s neglect it can live through mostly anything, the hardy fucker. It’ll be there at least. I guess I can only hope that somebody sometime will notice it and how thick it’s trunk is and think that somebody sometime must have planted it and that that happened a long time ago.
I live downtown now.
To tie back in with that corny, trite movie-of-my-life metaphor, I guess we’ve filmed all the scenes on that set. It’s not so bad. They’re good scenes, for the most part. I guess I’m doing something else now.
(At the moment, I feel directionless and kind of scared. I had a thought while picking out what I hope would be the last of Jonna’s New Year’s Eve 2003 glitter from the bushes. I thought that if I was in a plane that was crashing into the ocean, I’d be scared but at least I’d know where I was going: towards the ocean at a fatal speed. A short future, for sure, but least I’d know.)