When I was around 23 or 24 I lived in a house with seven unlockable outside doors and a rotating cast of a dozen dubious characters. Only three of us were paying the rent and the bills. Most of the people came and went as they pleased and didn’t have jobs, or didn’t feel like they had to pay since they were sleeping in the living room, or they were camping in the yard, or they had their own rents to pay elsewhere.
It wasn’t a particularly large house, technically a 3-bedroom, and a block from a gorgeous beach known for its dangerous locals. I didn’t really care; the people seemed reasonable enough at first and the price was right. The guy/boyfriend sharing my room was a woodcarver/musician/housepainter a.k.a. an utterly unemployable drunk. I learned a lot from him, like how to hold my liquor, and we got along well enough but somehow while I was away at work he was getting into arguments and petty feuds with the other housemates and their transient pals.
Enter one Guild parlour guitar. It was beautiful. It was old and beat up and warped in such a way to feel like an extension of myself when I held it against me. It was always in tune with me, which is to say, just on the verge of being out of tune, but not. It never made my hands sweaty. When I bought this guitar, I thought my life was utterly perfect. Beach house, bicycle, dog, guitar, artist boyfriend…it was everything I’d ever wanted. Hahahahahahaa…
Of course one day the guitar disappeared. Of course that day ALL of the guitars disappeared. But only the ones in my room; the Guild and the two belonging to the boyfriend. Nothing else in the house was touched, none of the djembes or keyboards or bongos. You know about Punctuated Equilibrium? The theory that evolution happens when a rare event shakes up the system? I think that’s how I learn about the world, how my layers of naïveté are stripped away. It was that event that opened my eyes to what exactly people had been doing in that house. Do you know that many of them were involved in selling drugs? I had no clue, really, probably because I was always at work. Did you know that my boyfriend probably owed them money? I just thought of that possibility today. Duh.
Anyway, I must have been a source of great entertainment for them, honestly confused about why my room was the only one burgled and so, so upset about losing the guitar. I even filed a police report and cruised pawnshops all around the city looking for it. It probably amused the police too, walking into that house full of drug users, with no locks on the doors, and talking to me-so surprised that things were missing! I never got the guitar back, never found another one that was quite as perfect, and stopped playing after a while. Still, sometimes I wake up singing.