October 15th, 2005


Marking my territory

I examined my face in the mirror of the medicine cabinet that’s above the sink. My nozzle was dangling into the white porcelain with its steady stream circling down the drain, and I couldn’t take my eyes away from my face. The crease above my nose that points to my forehead looked deeper, a gully that suggested an expression of constant concern. The brown spot on the right side of my nose was worrisome, and ugly. I ignored the gash on the left side of my head; I knew it came from this morning’s rushed and angry self-buzzing. It was my face, though, and I stared at as if I’d never seen it before.

I shook myself off and zipped up my shorts. By habit, I ran the water hard enough to clear the residual urine. I sat in the green leather chair, its worn cushion hidden by a University of Texas blanket that a friend once gave to me, and looked around the backhouse, the Sedlak house . I looked back into the all-tiled bathroom with its glass ceiling, at the industrial barrel used for the sink and urinal, and I thought that this was one of two of my favorite places I’ve ever peed.

My other favorite place is downstairs in the tiny bathroom that sits in the middle of the Craftsmen cottage built in 1923. Above that toilet is an original built-in wooden cabinet that has glass-paned doors. I’ll rest my right arm on that cabinet like a drunk steadying himself, and it is the perfect place to piss. There’s no mirror to mock you and no relentless sunshine streaming from above to accentuate every facial flaw you haven’t noticed yet. There’s nothing to look at but Billy’s souvenir village-in-a-bottle that he brought back from the Philippines while in the Navy, some carefully folded towels, and our collected toiletries.

I’m about to do something big. In a few days, I’ll make a purchase larger than anything I’d ever imagined outside of lottery daydreams. I’ve never taken a bigger risk, but I’ve never wanted something this much, at least among the things that I want that remains in the realm of possibility. I’m about to take out a loan well into the seven figures, and finally this property will be mine (ours).

Within architectural circles, this will always be referred to as the Sedlak house, but it will be my home for good, and without a doubt, that crevice that’s creeping up my forehead will become a little bit deeper.