Music Is Time Travel
by Alisa Damaso
Every time I hear Thursday’s Full Collapse, I’m 16 again and moving into the house I’ll eventually lose my virginity in years later. It’s November and raining and I’m equipping my empty new room with things I’ve collected over the years, my creature comforts, my teenage artifacts.
The house my dad bought has six rooms and used to be a convalescent home. It needs a lot of work — Dad already stripped the old, filthy brown carpet to reveal the cold concrete underneath for when we install fake wood panels, changed out the toilets and plans to re-do half of the tiling in the kitchen. The list of renovations goes on and on. This place was built in 1950 and the three back rooms were added on some decades later. The back corner room is mine.
The ceiling above the living room, dining room and kitchen is the drop ceiling of an old business office and lit with long tubes of fluorescent bulbs humming through clear serrated plastic sheets, yellowed with time and sickness and dead air. When we arrived at the house for the first time to clean it a few months back, it was still furnished and there were still sheets on the beds and clothes in the closets. There were old photo albums and framed black and white photos, award plaques and wire hangers in each closet, one hanger dressed in yarn, each a different pastel color crocheted and wrapped in the squandered time and eternal loneliness of a group activity led by young, detached foreign nurses with forced smiles and slow, condescending voices.
We rented two giant dumpsters and tossed everything inside.
Sitting on the floor, taking in my new environment and unpacking my things, my old compact stereo plays this worn-out CD the best it can over the heavy, splattering rain outside. It’s getting dark, and my small desk lamp lights the room from a corner on the newly carpeted floor. I can already tell I will spend most of my time in this room. I will study, sing, play my guitar, masturbate, write stories, cry, make out with boys and have epiphanies in this room. The old woman who lived in it, or died in it, will watch me, and I will talk to her when I have no one else. I can’t hear anything she says, nor can I see her, but sometimes I feel her. She is the loneliest of us both.
In this room, I will make several subtle transformations and become a woman without realizing it.
My oldest brother and his girlfriend will move out and get married. For a while my other brother will go through a period of recklessness until he finds the one that got away and rekindles their old flame and moves out of state to become a family man. Many will come and go into this house, rent a room and then leave, and eventually the bank will foreclose it and my parents and I will have seven days to find an apartment during the Thanksgiving holiday. My brother and his wife will have to take the dog.
The ghosts will stay, and they’ll have a huge party when we move out. Late at night, our neighbors will call the cops because of the noise, and when the officers get to the house it will be empty and dusty and untouched.