I live on 13th Street in apartment #13. The superstitious address came with a discounted rent. My roommate is a high school English teacher, so our bookshelves are stacked with multiple copies of classics like The Color Purple and The Elements of Style, which is comforting. Our living room houses three musical instruments, but I know how to play only one of them. There are three bikes and three toothbrushes, but only two people “live” here. Our next-door neighbor had been a happily unemployed, big-haired pothead who was named after a King of Israel and spent his days loudly playing violent video games. He would knock on our door to propose games of chess. But he was evicted a few months ago, and he vanished, as people do in this city, never to be heard from again. Now the man who lives there is an outrageously friendly, ex-military giant with a mysterious job, we suspect as some sort of secret government agent.
At the end of the street is a barber shop, where there is always a crowd of young men with big dogs outside shouting over loud music, and next to the commotion sits a serene, bald Chinese man waiting, all day and all evening, for visitors to his reflexology shop. Nobody ever seems to come. Across the street is a row of slender, handsome homes. In front of them, blond little boys glide on scooters in the sun. And at the other end of the block there are two regal pugs who sit grumpily, like fat old ladies, on the stoop of a brownstone, watching the weird world pass by their wrought iron gate. So, I live in Brooklyn.