The loft was on the fourth floor of an old industrial building in the South End of Boston, near the Orange line, that stretch where it was elevated before diving underground. The monthly rent was between $600 and $700, I can’t remember whether it was 625 or 675, and electricity and heat were included. However, the heat only worked from Monday morning to Friday evening, the working hours of an industrial building. Weekends were rough during the cold New England winters. One could stay in bed under the covers reading and I did that a lot. Another option was visiting friends. A girlfriend with a warm apartment was great, too.
I had 3,750 square feet of raw space with access to the roof, via something that was more substantial than a ladder but less solid than stairs. Being able to climb to the roof was great and I would often sit on the asphalt roof with a cup of tea, or to meditate.
I learned how to solder copper tubing that year, because the loft had a toilet and a tiny sink, but that was all. Through ads in a local paper I found a used water heater, an old claw-footed bathtub, and a beautiful and huge sink made from Vermont soapstone. That last item would be worth a fortune now. Dragging those things up to the fourth floor was hard!
I bought copper tubing and two by fours. From the wood I fashioned a stand for the soapstone sink and with the copper I connected the sink to the water outlet. I found a couple of pallets on the street and dragged them up to the loft. I placed the bathtub on top of the pallets so I would be able to look out of the window while taking a bath. There was only sky in that window. Below there was a baseball field that was rarely used. I connected the huge water heater to the water supply and the water heater to the faucets of the bathtub.
Since the loft was right under the roof, there were a number of leaks that sprang up during the heaviest summer rain showers. I would grab the few pots and pans I owned and place them under the leaks. Sometimes I needed more containers and a bucket, a salad bowl, even a mug would do. Of course I had to remember that the mug had to be emptied more often. At times I would witness a surround sound symphony of drip sounds. Each container created a different pitch, and then the pitch would continue to change as the container filled up. The sound would also differ depending on whether the drops came directly from the ceiling or first ran along a pipe before they plunged down. Some drips were constant, some intermittent, some fell rapidly, some sailed down languidly… Depending on where I stood in the space I could hear different rhythms that were being created by the drips. For a more dramatic performance the rain storm might add the occasional thunder.
This is something worth remembering, because there is something to be learned from allowing so many leaks to become something quite beautiful, rather than feeling upset or overwhelmed by them. Drips can be a nightmare or a wonder.
I’ll look for some photos that can illustrate this post…