On a beautiful Christmas Day, about a week after I had moved in, I had the usual garbage and cardboard to throw away in the dumpster. So, out my door I stepped. I noticed an old man in the parking lot and I curtsied slightly with a polite hello. I don't remember his name, but he introduced himself. He wore the silliest, most obvious wig of an excuse for a toupee that I would later see on him, turned sideways at times. A great bit of giggling came from that thing. Wishing me a Merry Christmas among other small talk, he mentioned that he lived with his son, Nathan, in apartment number 3, on the other side of the parking lot. Should I need anything at all, I need only knock on the door and ask.
A few weeks later, I stepped outside my door again. But there is something you need to know about the lock on my door. There were two: the deadbolt, and the simple one on the knob. I kept the simple one locked all the time, but there was a strange, unexpected malfunction where you could sometimes open the door without turning the knob, if it hadn't been properly shut firmly with a click. Here, I was about to figure this out for the first time. I managed to close the door properly after I stepped out, and alas, I locked myself out. I had to leave for work soon and had no idea what to do.
Showing up at the door of apartment number 3 in my pajamas and no sweater or coat, with snow on the ground, I was later reminded of what a silly sight I made. I knocked on the door, and the alleged son, Nathan, answered.
Nathan was a man in his 30's, best described as a living Hunter Thompson. He looked like him and dressed like him, but I'm not sure if he even knew who Mr. (excuse me, Dr.) Thompson was. He invited me in from the cold, as I explained my situation of having been locked out. I mentioned that I had met his father who had told me to come to him if I needed anything, and now I did. He informed me that the building maintenance man could be called to unlock my door, which was free the first time. He let me use his phone, at which point, I also called my work to let them know why I would be late.
Nathan was a unique, interesting character, who I'll never fully understand. He was from Texas, and would wear shorts and a heavy plaid sweater or jacket on a regular basis. I liked to think he was dipping his feet in both worlds: the shorts to remind himself he was from Texas, and the jacket because there was no choice if it was cold.
Nathan spoke softly and even oddly, with his mind constantly grabbing at the clouds for what he was going to say, even as he spoke it. I was not accustomed to waiting so long to hear someone think and speak at the same time. I learned a new kind of patience, here. He was a wealth of information, somehow seeming to know everything. And the funniest thing I had noticed was that he had two vans parked outside. Both were the same make and model and year and color. One ran, the other didn't. I figured he must have loved the first one so much that he had to have another.
As I waited for the maintenance man, Nathan smoked a clove cigarette. At the time I had never seen or heard of them, and found it to be a rather pleasant, Christmas-like smell. Later, it became an obnoxious, overpowering smell.
He spoke gingerly, and it made me wonder if this was simply the way he was, or if he had a preference for his own gender.
I don't remember what he said, but I had made a new friend. He seemed to view me as the little sister who could use a friend. And I saw him as a quirky big brother who could show me around this building, which I would soon discover, contained a wealth of oddities, myself included.