Ilya Nikolayich Dolgonosov, One Year Later

I moved here a year ago today. I’d been waiting two years, as the building wasn’t done—that’s how I afforded it, the wait. I spent the first night on the floor, as my furniture moved on the seventh. Mother wanted me out of her hair, not being a nuisance as she repacked my things. I’d done it all wrong, hadn’t used enough wrap or taped the lids to the pots, or whatever you do so they won’t knock around. I was fretting as well, asking too many questions, so she sent me on early and took over the move.

A funny thing happened, though, right before I went. Mother made a sign, and she stuck it in the lift, and it read something like this:

FREE STUFF!!!!!!!!
Call 604-***-**** for:
* an old wheelchair
* a shoe cabinet
* two bookshelves
* two vacuums
* an elliptical machine
* odds and ends
* three fans

The wheelchair went first, then the vacuums and shelves, and then…well, I had this awful neighbour, Ilya Nikolayich Dolgonosov. That wasn’t his real name, just one I made up as he had a big nose. He lurked in the garden all day, like a gnome, starting fights with the landlord and kicking the geese. He’d break up the birds’ nests and steal people’s plants. I once saw him pick someone’s mushrooms and throw them in the sea. He threw bottles in too, and a bag, and a broom. He fought with some lady and blew smoke in her window, and I think he stole my hat. I can’t prove it, but I fell asleep on the wall with it shielding my face, and I woke up bereft. I suspect Dolgonosov because I dreamt he was kicking me, sort of nudging me with his foot…and then my hat went, so was that a dream?

Anyway, on my last day at the old place, someone came for the fans, and it was Ilya Nikolayich Dolgonosov. He took them and the shoe cabinet, and maybe something else. I don’t know. I can’t remember. But he was in my apartment, and our eyes met, and I wondered if he was thinking about my hat, or the time he shook his fist at me. He made sort of a face, like a lemon-suck face, but he kept his mouth shut.

Later that day, two old ladies came for the elliptical machine. Mother went down to help load it in their van, and Ilya was lurking on the porch. She asked for his help, but he laughed and kept smoking. He stood and he watched as they hoicked it aboard.

Here’s another thing about Ilya Nikolayich Dolgonosov: I didn’t catch his name when we met, but later, I saw it on the building directory. It wasn’t Ilya, but it did start with I.

Anyway, what was I on about? Oh, yes. I spent my first night on the floor. Somehow, that’s always the way. When I moved to Texas, I couldn’t afford a bed, and the same thing happened my first time in Vancouver. I slept a month on a Swedish floor, as the the couch was all lumpy and I didn’t want to say. And when I came back to Canada, I slept my first night in the shower. (I had ibuprofen poisoning. My guts were on fire). Then, at my last place, my mattress was too heavy. It leaned a week on the wall. If ever I move again, I’m having a bed sent ahead, set up and made up, blankets and all….

I didn’t have a point besides that. I just wanted to say I like it here, and I like having a bed.

I hope Ilya’s enjoying my fans. (Or was it my toaster? Oh, it’s been a year. Well, whatever he took. Really. I hope he’s doing well.)