I live across the street from the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and Museum. I also live one block away from a crumbling Phat Alberts Warehouse and a Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen. The smell of recycled oil follows me home, reminding me that “home” is an ongoing investigation.
July in Brooklyn heralds portable speakers and barbecues in the park; neighbors gossip while they stand in the middle of the sidewalk (and I’ll tell you right now: they move for no one.) I fool myself into thinking that things will change—that I’ll get a good night’s sleep and finally get that job; that I won’t mind dirty shoes in the apartment or that I’ll run into my future husband on 51st and 5th. I tell myself that I’ll harden or the city will soften.
But that hasn’t happened yet.
Two weeks ago, water flooded the bathroom of a sixth floor apartment in our building. We live on the fourth floor, which means this should have been an isolated case (except it’s New York, and everything’s intertwined and messy and loud, like a chaotic orgy that we’re all jumping in to join). My roommates and I noticed water seeping into the walls, short-circuiting a few electrical outlets. This was bad enough but then something strange happened: a mushroom sprouted out of the bathroom wall.
Now, I must qualify that this is not my personal bathroom (I have my own) but that does not mean it doesn’t impact my roommates. It also doesn’t mean that I can’t get really mad when our complaints to management are minimized. Were it my bathroom, I think I would have consumed the magical mushroom. At least then I could avoid the crushing truth that our rent supports conditions like these. After all, I’m not looking to distill truffle oil out of a bathroom-grown mushroom. It’s just not my thing.
But here’s an interesting fact about mushrooms: over 30 species glow in the dark. Their bioluminescence produce so much light that people have been known to use them in the woods, illuminating their way through dark nights (think the Light of Eärendil for you Lord of the Rings fans out there).
Our special mushroom disappeared almost as soon as it appeared (not uncommon for mushrooms…or men I’ve dated, I might add). Strangely, I can’t help but wonder if the mushroom and I are somehow interconnected, like two species that survive in unlikely places and feed light into dark nights.
Maybe the mushroom and I enter and exit New York swiftly but memorably. Maybe.