They say the sense of smell is the best agent for beinging back old memories, but for me it's music. As Video Disco Bargainville comes on the stereo, pounding a bass beat through my living room, the memories of this day come screaming back to me. The reflection of the sounds off the empty walls of the new apartment, with only a computer desk and restaurant kitchen shelving in the corner and our two bodies to absorb the sound. The sounds of 60 hertz fans from six server cases pushing their warm air into the surrounding atmosphere and gently kicking up the dust from the floor. The smell of ammonia, bleach, and industrial strength wasp killer. The feeling of dried-out hands and tired muscles. It all comes flooding in. The fading aura of slob and cigarette smoke blowing out the open window.
This is my new apartment. Anything can happen here. Memories of her introducing me to new songs that her ex-boyfriend had introduced to her. New horizons. The smell of her skin and running gleefully around the new empty apartment, with it's decor and our lives full of fun and possibilities. I'm finally here in Maryland. On my own. Together with her. Memories of unfurling a cushy blanket over the newly polished hardwood floors in the living room because there's only a one-person cot in the otherwise empty bedroom. The hot summer air pulsing through the windows, the feel of newness resonating through everything. Wonderful potential, she writes. I agree.
I peer through the flickering of a 12 inch CRT and the tones of my new telephone dialing up to the UMBC Internet, the familiar hum of the radio scanner and ham radio in the background as firefighters and police rush around Baltimore County. Later, the blinking green lights of data and audio that flow through wires that wrap around my new living room pierce through darkness of the night. The server fans and the constant whoosh of the circulating fan passing over my bare skin. Lying on the cot in the middle of my life. My computers filling the silence and the emptiness that have been left otherwise alone in. She's gone home to sleep alone like me. Past midnight. I get up off the cot and look around, butterflies in my stomach, and spin my arms around in the air of my new home by the warm light of my halogen desk lamp. New.
Fast forward. The butterflies are back. My apartment smells just like, well, my apartment. The lemon yellow velvet couches are the same as they were yesterday, and will be tomorrow. The speakers thump, the sound bouncing to the walls and off the yellow couches while the servers hum quietly and talk to the world on their own at the speed of light. It's my apartment. Just mine. The place I hardly get to really enjoy these days. Where I never just sit by the stairs and dangle my feet over the guardrail anymore, or fill with the sweet smells of food being prepared. Where I just come back to sleep and chill after work.
The music eats up the silence as the rain falls gently outside. The music stops and the memories fade with it. I press a key, and play it again. And again.