robertisenberg

Oakland Fireworks : 4

In Uncategorized on November 14, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Windstorm, former Iron City Brewery, Bloomfield.

It was a stripped-down version of adulthood – pedestrian, dirt-poor, uninsured. But where society couldn’t help me, I had to invent my own solutions. The toilet was temperamental, so I’d find new ways to plunge and tinker the problems away. The water-heater didn’t always work, so I learned to enjoy cold baths. In a way, I felt like Robinson Crusoe – building shelter and tools out of Erica’s abandoned stuff, piling extra debris in the corner. Except that even Crusoe had his man Friday, a sidekick to keep him company. I decided that, in the fall, I would make more friends.

But there was one luxury in those days that I have rarely enjoyed since. With so little company and so few distractions, I could scribble as much as I wanted. I was studying creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh, and I had wanted nothing else since I was 12 years old. The endless, sticky nights made sleep impossible, so I’d pull out my laptop and type until 3 a.m., 4 a.m., sometimes until dawn. I churned out movie scripts and short stories, essays and half-baked novels. I had no publisher, no audience, and certainly no expectations – but this made the process feel pure, as if every word was a step closer to something real and permanent. This was the molten lava that would crush and cool into diamonds.

In the years since, I have become that writer – I’ve written for magazines, published books, taken press junkets to exciting cities. My domiciles have gradually improved, from ratty garret to a dumpy shared apartment, then a brighter apartment with my girlfriend, and now a row-house on a tree-lined avenue, where I can share wine and salads in a shared court with my neighbors. A decade later, I think of that sojourn on Louisa Street, in a run-down efficiency above a steaming clan of dumpsters, and it all seems quaint. Now that I can sauté fresh vegetables and roll sushi, how did I survive on Dinty Moore and ramen noodles?

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