Many years ago, a young lady I was dating gave me an unintentional compliment. I had her over to my apartment for soda pop and cookies one night and she said: “You know, Mike? I’ve never been able to picture you actually living in one specific place. I always imagine you everywhere at once, like a cloud floating over the city.”

I thought it was a very sweet and intriguing idea, and just you never mind that the girl ended up stealing my wallet, compact disc player and coffee machine.

Alas, I never did live in the night fog or in a network of caverns beneath the Lewiston canals. I lived in perfectly ordinary apartments, some of them fine, some of them — to put it in real estate jargon — absolutely sucky. While I may have lost a few to blackouts, as far as I can recall, the following is a complete list of my humble local abodes.

* Nichols Street, about halfway down. This was a cozy little pad with plush furniture and lots of sunlight. It’s where I lived with the speech therapist when I first came to Lewiston in 1994. I didn’t get to live there long. I was supposed to be spending my days looking for a job. Unfortunately, I spent most of those days looking for a job from a stool at the Blue Goose. Out the door I went.

* Nichols Street II, this time closer to the Sabattus Street end. This was a dinky, one-room place, one of those where you can’t get to the bathroom if the refrigerator door is open. In this apartment I had exactly one of everything — one fork, one knife, one spoon, one drinking glass, one dinner plate. If I remember correctly, the peephole on the door was installed backward so that anyone looking in from the hall got a fish-eye view of my digs. I saw my first Lewiston cockroach in that place. I named him Jeeves. I also had half a dozen crazy neighbors who used to cram into my place for weekend parties. One of them stepped on Jeeves. I never forgave her.

* Lisbon Street, above Dick’s Variety. I loved this place. It had two floors and plush carpeting everywhere you stepped. There were two bedrooms and lots of windows affording me a fine view of the alley out back. There was a video store directly below me and yet, somehow, I still managed to rack up over $100 in late fees. I had a nice young lass from the paper move in with me. She moved all of her stuff in, replaced my sheets and towels with her own, rearranged the furniture and then promptly declared that we should move. To an apartment one floor beneath us.

* Lisbon Street II. This apartment was directly above Dick’s. It wasn’t so much an apartment as it was an abandoned club. It was one giant room with no walls whatsoever. It had a ladies room and a men’s room. The men’s room had its own urinal, a fact that made me declare on the spot that I would never, ever move out of this place. Outside the bedroom window was the traffic light at Lisbon and Chestnut Street. If you lay awake in bed at night, you could watch your flesh turn red then green then yellow. I really dug that. Then the lovely young lass from the paper decided that we should move again, this time to an apartment on the other side of Lisbon Street less than a block away.

* Lisbon Street III. A third-floor walk-up above a hair salon and some business offices. The hallways echoed badly so you could never tell a secret there. The apartment itself was sprawling. It had high, arched windows and interesting views of the Lewiston canals. The lovely young lass from the paper broke into my piggy bank and bought new curtains and bed covers. It was the nicest and most expensive apartment in which I’d ever lived. Then the lovely young lass lost her job at the paper and decided she was moving back to Atlanta. She took the TV, but left me the curtains and cats. The pawn shops wouldn’t take either of them.

* Lisbon Street IV. I couldn’t afford Lisbon Street III on my own, so I moved across the hall to a smaller apartment. Five girls helped me make the move. (Don’t judge. We all deal with break-ups in our own way.) This place also had high, arching windows but this time, unfortunately, they faced the bustle of Lisbon Street instead of the weird serenity of the canals. Great viewing by night, horrible noise by morning. If you’re a heartbroken cop reporter who sleeps until noon every day, living directly above the corner of Lisbon and Pine is a horrible idea. You will become sleep-deprived and manic, to the point where you start talking to imaginary cockroaches named Jeeves.

* Main Street. Too many memories on Lisbon Street so I moved my two orphaned cats and fancy curtains around the corner to Main, into a weirdly paneled apartment above Sam’s Italian Restaurant. From my window, I could see all the way up Sabattus Street to the five-way intersection. On at least two occasions, I was able to report on things without ever having to put on pants. I ate Sam’s food every night yet never gained any weight. You figure it out. I loved that place. Then, for no apparent reason, I decided to take a job in Virginia and out the door I went.

* Main Street II. Back in Lewiston a year or so later. Don’t ask me what happened in Virginia; I’m not allowed to talk about it. I moved back into the place above Sam’s, only this time I got an apartment in the middle of the building. The best view was of a wall. I’ve always thought that wall was my punishment for having left. Then I met a lovely lass from the paper and she decided I should move to Auburn. Auburn! I don’t like to talk about that, either.

* Summer Street, Auburn. Beautiful apartment in a quiet neighborhood. I had porches on both sides where I could sit back, smoke and ruminate in utter quietude. I grew to dig the less frantic pace of Auburn. I settled in and decided this was the place to stay for good. This was home. Then the lovely lass from the paper, whom I married, decided we should move back to Lewiston. I kicked, I swore, I protested.

Then out the door I went.

Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. He inhabits Lewiston the way a cockroach skitters to and fro. Email him at [email protected]


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