I don’t normally think there is any point whatsoever in telling most stories out of order. There might be some reasons to do it, but those reasons are few and far between. This story for the most part can be told chronologically, but I have come to realize that I sound like an asshole if I do. Thus, I am going to break the narrative just so I may establish one detail right from the beginning.
During the course of the story you are about to read, me and the friend you will soon be introduced to (let’s call her X) decided to throw a Fourth of July party. Due to poor planning on our part, the invitation to this fourth of July party went out pretty last minute, and by consequence very few people turned up. Some very close mutual friends of our turned up with some acquaintances of theirs (strangers to me and X) who were expecting a proper, loud, ruckusing party. Considering the total turn out to the part including hosts was six people, we certainly did not deliver anything resembling what these strangers were expecting. The kindly ate a hot dog or two, politely chatted, and made an excuse to get the fuck out of there at the earliest possible opportunity.
But in an attempt to not look like assholes, the strangers took their leave by showering me and X with platitudes about being such great hosts and in doing so said something akin to me and X being a great couple. I was practically beside myself with offense and awkward indignation, and just in that moment I looked over at X and found that she was beside herself with shock and offense at the suggestion the statement made, for she knew full well that she could do much better than me. I was OK with this because frankly I always thought I could do much better than X. I always thought the my friend X was completly uninteresting from the standpoint of relationship potential, but it was only in that moment when I realized than the feeling was 100% mutual. I may have been slightly offended at the time, but now I think the whole ordeal is actually pretty funny.
But let me outright make the point of this preamble explicit, so that I am get on with this damn story; as I tell this tale, it may seem like I am being unnecessarily harsh to my friend X in the sexless and loveless way I view her. And while that may support the narrative game I am playing in terms of the overall point of the story, it is no way a reflection of X as a person. We just, y’know, aren’t made for each other. We get on like a fucking house fire, but should never actually be together. And when you consider how many people I know who went through lengthy divorces and suffered the animosity of their family and the alienation of their children to figure that out, I think I my learning that what I never wanted to begin with wouldn’t work anyhow was delivered to me at a bargain basement price. But enough rambling.
In 2013, shortly after I finished my master’s thesis I took a little bit of time off from my job. I just needed to collect myself, as thing had up to that point been extremely stressful for me. I was trying to congratulate myself for a job, if not well done, merely terminated. For the most part I just lingered about the DC metro area, going to coffee shops and music venues. Pretty much I was doing fuck all, and surprisingly enough, I was enjoying myself.
In the midst of all this doing nothing my friend X called and asked what plans I had for the following two weeks. When I told her just how empty my life at that moment, she proceeded to tell how some friend of hers would be out of town for some time on vacation, and that she had been given free reign to live in their house so long as she would watch over their pets (one cat and one dog) for a period of two weeks. Would I like to join her there? There was an extra bedroom and she wouldn’t mind the company. All I had to do was occasionally help out with taking care of said pets. Oh by the way, they’ve staked the fridge with a baker’s dozen bottles of red wine, another of white, all manners of food. There is a decent sized backyard and a grill which we can use at our disposal. Plus, the house was a ten minute walk from downtown Alexandria, an affluent Washington DC suburb.
Fuck yea I’d like to join! When do I start?
On the day the homeowners left I packed a bag walked it to my friends house and we drove about 20 minutes from downtown DC to the Alexandria suburbs. The house was a rather nice detached home in long sleepy row not to far from one of the metro stops on the yellow and blue line. The interior was beautiful, comfortable and extremely well equipped; the living room not only had several couches but a stereo system that could connect to your phone via bluetooth. The fact that there was a well-stocked bar, including several bottles clear labeled with a yellow ‘drink me’ post-it, made it feel extremely welcoming. It was a great place to just sit back and get some writing done. But if that failed , we were not to far from King st, a main drag lined with plenty of shops, cafes, and bars. It seemed like this was going to be a great little staycation, a quickly growing American tradition since the tanking of the economy five years earlier.
(I noticed that this post is quickly approaching 1,000 words, which I feel like is a limit I should avoid going over in this blog. Catch the rest of the story on September 12th)