Coming into Albany is like laying in a bath tub, not really sure how you got there. You look around the bath tub and you find the obvious things you need, some soap, a fluffy scrubby, some hair product. But along the opposite edge of this bath there lays an array of razors, some are rusted, some are new with varying levels of sharpness to them. You know you can make this bath pleasant and simple. You also know that you have a choice to try any of those dull blades.
Albany never feels simple.
Albany is like a vice on my lungs and a noose dangling from my neck. It feels heavy and daunting and incredibly difficult to breath in. I can’t relate to Albany in any other way than the city that holds my vices and as we should know, vices are like vices in themselves.
This was the last time that I needed to return. All of my belongings that were stored in the attic of my Mothers exes home are gone. I packed them up after one last nights rest in this sacred space. What was once a tiny unfinished corner of Albany that I called mine no longer exists.
This space has always been called The Attic and as I contemplate a more appropriate name I realize The Attic is perfect.
(2) to mark a proper noun, natural phenomenon, ship, building, time, point of the compass, branch of endeavor, or field of study as something well-known or unique.
“The” seems to add the right emphasis and description to its more obvious title.
(1) a space or room just below the roof of a building.
This room was a space of natural phenomena. It was a space of secrets and comfort. It held me with its blazing heat and thick aroma. This aroma coats the items in the back of my van, every time I get in I am overcome with grief that these smells will wane and I will only have the memory of it. Maybe it will sneak up on me the same way the smell of crack cocaine does, out of nowhere, unsuspected, thought upon as another lifetime.
The Attic holds many relics from so many lives I have lived, it will also be the place I tried to relinquish these lives.
Along with things that I knew I had, there are also things I did not. Not to be mistaken, I knew there were love letters, but I did find some that were put in The Attic after I had left The Attic. After I had broken M’s heart and long after I could have ever tried to get his love back, M snuck some things to be found in my little space. The love M gave me was one unprecedented. It was also one that now, years later, I can recognize for all its worth. Besides the love he gave me when we were together, he gave me something greater, the lens in which to see such bold, strengthening and romantic love being given to me now. I don’t think I would have been able to see it if it had not been for all his notes and apparently notes time capsuled and unread for five years.
A pile of empty suitcases that were once used like dressers now wait for my solemn return. They have held scarves and accessories, panties and blouses, art supplies and photographs. They have always patiently been waiting for me to run, to catch a bus and head any direction but down. Finally after five years of waiting for my return, they have been put to use.
One of my lives was down on Sheridan, Arbor Hill, behind the Armory with one of my favorite exes. It was also, easily, the most fabulously decorated home I had in Albany. Vintage everything with a color scheme of Orange, Green and Brown. Couch and chairs matched the lamps, matched the tables, matched the very large collection of landscape paintings and weird bird sculptures, not to mention the art found on trash night. This ex’s grandmother gave me a Last Supper paint by numbers she did when she was pregnant with her daughter, it was framed by her grandfather.
5-10 years ago Albany had the best thrift stores.
In 2009 I had saved up everything I had. I was going to leave Albany, for good this time. I bought a one way ticket to Portland, having never been there, I just went on the myth M had created of it. I was about one month out when one night I relapsed into the dark place I so easily fall victim to in Albany, a vice that has a deafening power over me if I let it. I spent my savings, my exit strategy in just two days, I had ruined my chance to leave. I had also broken every promise I had made to myself to be strong and move on. I tried to kill myself that night. I took a razor blade to my wrists and fell asleep. 78 stitches later and five years down the road I can still find tiny spots of blood in The Attic.
Im not saying goodbye. Im just saying that if we never saw one another again, Albany, that would be okay.
All photos shot with a Canon Ae-1.