I've mentioned more than once that during our long marriage, my wife and I had a separation that lasted for over a year. Going into great detail about the hows and whys of it all is less important to me now, because, obviously, we got back together and it is nothing more than a footnote in our history. Okay, if you are wondering, it wasn't because I confessed my desire to suck dicks to her.
Anyway, during my little hiatus from the house, I moved into a low-rent 1 bedroom apartment that was literally two blocks from our house. The neighborhood we lived in was made up of single family homes, bordered by some apartment complexes, then ringed by shopping centers, bus terminals and all the community things you need for supporting predominantly low income families. We moved into the nicer part of the neighborhood when it was already on the downward slide. Financially, we could have probably done much better, but in reality, being in the military, I was sure to be going TDY a lot and we chose the place since it was close to my wife's family.
The apartment complex was old but fairly clean and maintained. I got a second floor place with a sliding glass door leading to a balcony overlooking one of the 4 pools. I could never bring myself to just sit out on the balcony with a beer, gawking at anyone in a bikini, but I can say that on more than one occasion I hid behind the privacy of the blinds with my dick in my hand as one of the more tempting neighbors sunbathed assuming none of the creepy divorced men that lived in the place were using her as masturbatory fodder.
There was a truck driver that lived in the apartment below me and he had a wife or a lady friend that would fuck him when he returned from the road. He made these loud grunting sounds as he pounded her. Or perhaps he was grunting as she pounded him. Who knows? Most of the people in the place seemed to me to be broken in some way. Like me, a lot of single men with families somewhere else. There were single moms, mostly on welfare that had clearly started way too young and now were in a bad situation.
I was always friendly to people but never got really involved with anyone beyond saying hello or offering to help a lady with her bags and such. When I didn't have my kids over to swim or hang out, and when I wasn't working, I spent a lot of time drinking beer and looking at porn or chatting in AOL rooms discussing sex. I rarely went into the M4M chat rooms, and when I did, I was too chicken to chat with anyone. I could have so easily engaged in a lot of gay sex since I had the place and the time, but I just never* did.
No, I did a lot of drinking, soul searching, looking at porn, and oh, I did a lot of laundry.
My apartment complex had a small laundry room, but I soon found that I preferred to go to a laundromat just down the street. This place was like something you'd see in a scary movie. It was old, dirty, not in a dirt on the floor kind of way, but dirty in they "wow, we haven't painted this place in 15 years" kinda way. It was owned by a man in his early 50's and his mother. The man would fix things and check the machines for money, the mother ran a side business where people would leave their laundry there, and she would wash, iron and do alterations.
I loved this place. Next door was what I racistly referred to as an Iranian store, though the owners were most certainly Indian. I'd drive up to the laundromat, load my clothes in a washer, then walk into the store next door and grab a 6 pack of cheap beer. As my clothes washed, I'd either sit in my car listening to the radio while watching the gang-bangers and taggers wander by or imagine the life stories of the single moms and poor couples who did their laundry. If the police showed up to buy a Cole or check someone out, I'd pour my beer into an Ice Tea mug and nod approvingly as they did their work. It never occurred to me that I was just as sad and pathetic as the people I took such interest in observing.
The area was primarily a mix of Hispanic and white-trash, people who work at grocery stores, nursing homes or pawn shops. Every once in a while,I'd spot a very nicely dressed lady who looked like she was on the brink of making it out of the neighborhood, or perhaps, on her way into the neighborhood. I cannot tell you the number of super smoking hot, inappropriately dressed young ladies I saw. I imagined them being strippers at one of the really low-end clubs nearby, because if they had danced at a nicer place, they sure as hell wouldn't be living near me. In reality, they were probably high schoolers living in the crappy apartments across the street from the laundromat, and I was the semi-drunk guy waiting for my laundry and gawking at 17 year-olds.
Often I would sit inside the laundromat sipping my beer from the Iced Tea mug, pulling out a piece of clothing at a time from the dryer, folding it before it could wrinkle. I might get into a conversation with someone, but more often than not, people simply stayed to themselves. Inside, there was a public restroom. They tried to keep it clean, but homeless people took baths in the sink or puked, or slept. I had witnessed young couples go in together, and I would watch them exit, the girl usually embarrassed or freshly high and the guy usually grinning either way. I fantasized about sex in that bathroom, with a couple; me eating her pussy as the guy fucked it, thereby giving me both of the worlds I so craved. Dick and pussy. But of course, that bathroom was so nasty, and I never bothered to approach a couple and ask them if I could have sex with them in a restroom.
This all sounds, probably, very depressing. But for me, these were such interesting people and events. If I had spent any effort to document the things I saw or the people I encountered, I could have the keys to a cheap novel.
On rare occasion will drive by the ol' place. The Iranian store is still there, but the laundromat has been boarded up for years. Whenever someone is murdered or a criminal is captured in the apartment complex I used to live in, my wife reminds me that I used to live there, not out of spite, but out of relief that those days are gone. But I have to admit, I sometimes miss those days, sitting in front of the laundromat, sipping a cheap beer, watching people fold their unmentionables.
*There were a few incidents with friends that I have written about previously.