Month: May 2015

The Couple Upstairs

Couple Upstairs

The couple who own the top unit above me are away in Tahoe this weekend, so their tenant decided to have his girlfriend stay overnight.  I was dead asleep at 1:15 a.m. when they got home, but her stomping heels on the hardwood floors woke me up.  They were in the midst of a mega fight.  Usually, I can’t hear much of what’s said up there, but I could clearly hear her shout at him, “Are you in love with her?”  He said something back I couldn’t understand, but I heard her response:  “Because I’m a woman, and you’re my boyfriend, and I love you!”

I don’t know if they were throwing stuff or what, but there was stuff bouncing off the floor right above my bedroom ceiling.  Sounded like I was living under a bowling alley.  I’m surprised my son didn’t wake up from all the noise.  At one point, I heard the guy tell his girlfriend to “get out of my house!”  The girlfriend refused, said she wasn’t going anywhere, and that’s when I started wondering if I should call the cops.  Hell hath no fury and all.  Despite whatever he’d done, I was really worried about the guy’s safety.

After a while, I went outside and stood in the backyard and could see them upstairs in the kitchen.  Their light was on, so they couldn’t see me.  I was hoping they would, though, so that he’d have a reason to distract his girlfriend from her tirade.  I wished I had his phone number.  If I did, I’d have called him so he’d have some justification to urge her to chill:  the whole guy-downstairs-has-a-kid thing.  Finally, after several minutes of her standing over the sink as if she were going to throw up her pain, he put his hand on her back and started to comfort her.  Then she turned to him, and they hugged, and he kissed her.  That’s when I went back to bed.  Of course, then their own bed started squeaking like a honeymoon suite, so I could barely fall asleep.

The whole thing got me thinking:  Who had he met and where?  And when did he finally tell his girlfriend about it?  She was so full of emotion, it seemed she had just heard the news.  Were they out all night on some date, her enjoying herself and him holding on to this secret that he just couldn’t bear?  Did he bring it up just as they were walking from their car to the house?  It’s horrible having to tell someone you’ve met “someone else.”  As much as it hurts to hear that from a lover, it’s an equally unbearable guilty burden to unload.  Ugh!  Made me think of a few breakups of my own and how sad and painful and dramatic they can be.

The dramatics upstairs got me thinking how vulnerable everyone is, how strongly we all desire a deep connection with someone, and how desperate we can be when that connection is threatened.  In any event, I hope they’ve worked it out between themselves.  If nothing else, I hope they at least go shopping this morning for a few new padded rugs.

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Chalok Ban Kao

steam-ticket-front-cover-2015-1

Many thanks to Steam Ticket, a literary journal published buy the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, for publishing the following poem in their Spring 2015 issue.

Chalok Ban Kao                                           

                                                —Koh Tao, Thailand 

Privacy—so public here in paradise

  things best left behind bamboo

    a market stall of mango nuts

That couple on their morning stroll

  their steps into the soupy sea

    a flirty splash or two or three

 p

After a kiss, he’s stomping back to shore

  kicking the calm green buoyance

    girlfriend left to wonder what’s gone wrong

p

It’s bread and circus for the beach

  karaoke tourists, fools taking turns

    staging their small dramas for the bored

p

Even I and my coffee are seen

  woman alone at a teakwood table

    and I watch her watch me

 p

Here comes her tan companion

  her leading man, her garden palm

    their bickering falls like sudden rain

 p

My own companion’s abandoned me

  left at dawn for scuba school

    a Sunday swim with silent fish

 p

So much I’d like to say to her

  to issue my objections and complaints

    popping fried eggs in hot, hot oil

 p