Notes From A Walkman Junkie: I Left My Heart, My Pride, (And Nearly My Spleen) On Essex
Recently I found myself unquestionably drowning in a sea of names and addresses that I was typing up for a party invite list at work. This is normally a task I enjoy quite a bit, however, this list was (inventively) handwritten by three different people making the names exceedingly difficult to read. ( By the way, I would hate for anyone to have to tackle a list drawn up by me as it would resemble the handiwork of a team of doctors, chickens, and serial killers.) This being said, I had become incredibly weary of this project and had steadily begun to creatively guess (butcher) the proper spelling of the names, hence producing things like, “Mr. and Mrs. Fendertonnerstienbottom on Lallywang Lane.”
Though I had numerous struggles with several of the names and addresses on the list, one address in particular stood out to me in a very clear manner. It was none other than the former address of the house my family lived in on Essex Street. We had moved there just before my first year of high school and remained there until I left for college. Of all of the houses that I have lived in, I have always had a certain fondness for the Essex place, most likely due to the fact that I lived there during my most formative (gangly, bunglesome, painful) years when things (bone-head decisions, regrettable quests, not at all well-thought-out clothing choices) really started to happen in my life.
There are a couple of standout memories that I associate with that house, mostly involving attempts of sneaking out of, and more importantly back into the house, that invariably went a trifle awry. My bedroom was on the first level which made slipping out of and later back in the window in my room relatively simple. I had decided to take an additional step of precaution in my scheme by planting a decoy (many stuffed gorillas and monkeys of various sizes and textures positioned in the form of a “sleeping Anne”) in my bed should anyone wander down to my room in my absence to check on me.
My escape went off without a hitch and the return was looking equally promising as well, but I had not taken into account that my older sister had also crept out that night without carefully planning (efficiently utilizing stuffed primates and open windows) her return. She came back home a bit before me and magically discovered that my bedroom window was left open (seemingly just for her out of my overwhelming generosity) and quickly climbed through with the silent grace of a marching band loaded with espresso.
My mother, after hearing such a racket, clamored down the stairs and sternly turned to my sister and snapped in whispered tones, “Anne is sleeping, you are going to wake her.” It was at this moment (she had noted the mysterious shapes in the bed and tufts of dark fur peaking out) that my sister panicked and decided to employ a distraction technique (throw me under the bus) and shouted, “Look! Anne is not even here!” as she tore off the covers of my bed — revealing my eight, grinning, furry, stuffed friends.
Though that incident did not go exactly as planned (failed spectacularly), the truly botched reentry mission into the Essex house happened a couple of years later. I had grown a bit lazy with my strategies at this point and had learned to just count on one (or many) doors being left unlocked as they had been several times in the past. Well, on this particular evening the house was locked up tighter than Fort Knox. I scrambled around to each door and window only to be met with the grave disappointment and bleak realization of being firmly shut out. I had decided that I had no option but to ring the doorbell and take whatever I had coming to me. The thing is, I had been drinking (most likely a boatload of Boon’s Farm wine) that night and thought it wise that I should perhaps “run it off” before turning myself in.
I did what any sensible girl would have done: I grabbed a large yard rake (for protection) and began aimlessly jogging around the neighborhood. Needless to say, this got old really fast and I keenly devised a new (ridiculous, irrational, dangerous) plan of action. I remembered that the sliding glass door that led directly into my mother’s bedroom was always unlocked and I could surely get in through that entrance. Aside from two slight hiccups (her room was on the second floor and I would have to walk right through her fucking bedroom where she was sleeping –and a light sleeper at that), the plan was flawless.
I just had to figure out a way to climb up to her balcony to get to the door. I glanced around the yard to make an assessment and promptly located four chaise lounge chairs and began stacking them on top of each other under the balcony. I then clumsily began to climb the teetering mess of a “home-crafted ladder” and gradually (hours… I took several resting breaks) was able to pull myself onto the ledge. At this point my mother had heard the ruckus and was wide awake, firmly clutching a stun gun (a fine alternative to a rake) and barked, “Who is there?!” I frantically answered, “It’s Anne, it’s Anne” to which she quipped, “How the hell did you get up here?” and I bluntly stated, “chaise lounges mostly.” Luckily, this evening ended without anyone being “stun-gunned” or falling from a “chaise lounge tower”, but I really should have just rang the damn bell.
I am attaching a duet of “I’ll Be Seeing You” performed by Françoise Hardy and Iggy Pop as a tribute of sorts to the old house on Essex (I also feel this song would be a fantastic theme song for my “rake run”.)