Paper or Plastic

Not long after I moved into my apartment I noticed a gap in the ceiling between the front of my apartment (kitchen/living room/office/dining room/den/etc) and the back of my apartment (bedroom). You see, my “bedroom” is actually an old enclosed porch. It is an extension of the house and with age it has decided it may not want to be apart of said house any longer. Like all major schisms, there are side effects – a noticeable gap in the ceiling, a slight downward slope, and a constant fear of waking up in the alley.

Whenever I’m laying down on my bed I stare at the gap and imagine the possibilities of what could happen. Flying wood, very large splinters, broken glass…some are more rational then others. I have nightmares of spiders, millions of them, pouring out from the gap and crawling into my ears and mouth while I sleep. Or better yet, they have trapped me in a web from which i can’t escape and they’ll do the crawling while I’m awake.

alright….I’m done…promise. This all may seem slightly interesting and completely unrelated. until…

I see a cockroach.

We stumble upon each other as I get up for more water and he strolls out of my shoe. We both freeze. Like a duel at high noon we wait for the other to make the first move. It’s me. I panic and make a flying leap for the nearest, highest object as he jumps back into my shoe (good luck buddy).

As I stand perched on my stool, I become eye level with my shelves. And instead of my books and trinkets galore (cue little mermaid music), I see brown paper and I begin to put a few things together.

I have been removed.

On top of that – I feel like I’m in some sort of twisted take on Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

Gregor awoke a cockroach – the ultimate identity crisis. Everything familiar to him is gone – his physical appearance, his relationship with his family, his daily routine – his entire life. Gone. But he is still there, locked away in that smooth exoskeleton.

Helene has done the same – instead of covering me, she has covered my belongings – my life. Even my reflection has been reduced to a 4 x 4 inch square.

At first it was a peaceful escape. An escape not only from the outside, but also from myself. Anything “mine” has been covered and neatly put away. Drawing a connection to spirituality and inner reflection, my identity has been sacrificed in order to get closer to something higher (whatever that “higher” may be). It’s about being selfless and letting go of the needless things I have allowed define me: clothes, jewelry, my car, my books, etc.

But sometimes they do define us. I know many a good book has changed me (thank you Harry Potter). We need them – at least I do – as reminders of decisions made, of life. Instead of being mere objects of representation, they become scraps of life we collect along the way and for the benefit of no one but ourselves. The brown paper, the plastic, the candles – it’s all a bland superficial mask of my “superficial” objects.

The past few days have felt odd. Peaceful, but odd. Even with all of this “covering up”, I have never felt more exposed. I’m not sure if it’s the installation, the fact that I can see and hear my neighbor like we are living in the same apartment now that my curtains are gone, or maybe it’s just the taxing routine of my life lately…

He peeks out at me again. And i remind myself to get traps in the morning.

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