"November twenty-first, 11:16 AM, Eastern Standard Time. The first snow of the season in the East Village."
I panned his camera over the city below the fire escape. Huge snowflakes fell lazily to the earth below, coating the grass in a white sheen. The sound from the traffic below was dulled slightly.
From within the loft, I heard Roger's disgruntled voice. "Mark! Close the window. It's fucking freezing."
I shut off the camera and turned around. The shoddy window had opened behind me, even though I had closed it tightly when I went out onto the fire escape. I sighed and returned inside, this time locking the window.
"I did close it." I explained as I set down my camera and shook the snowflakes off of my scarf. "Stupid thing opened behind me."
It wasn't an uncommon occurrence. Doors that didn't fit in their jambs opened themselves in the middle of the night all the time and the fire escape window never fit correctly unless it was locked shut. It was the age and disrepair of the loft that did it. I hated it, especially in the winter, but it was all we had. It was all we could afford.
Roger was sitting on the couch eating breakfast: a piece of bread with peanut butter on it, folded in half. He had his hood from his sweater over his head, over which he was wearing his leather jacket. It was the only way to keep warm when it snowed—we were, at times like this, too poor to pay for any heat up in the loft. I wandered into the kitchen to warm up some coffee and discovered the peanut butter jar left out on the counter, uncapped, with the knife still sticking in it. I sighed.
"Roger…" I mumbled. It was, to say the least, a pet peeve of mine. He responded only with a "Hmm?" from the couch. "Could you at least put the peanut butter away? It's going to go stale."
"I left it out for you."
"I hate peanut butter." I reminded him as I put the knife in the sink and replaced the peanut butter in the cupboard with our other measly food items.
"Oh yeah." Roger replied with a mouth full of peanut-butter-bread, sneaking a knowing smile onto his face. I couldn't help but grin.
While my coffee heated itself on the hot plate Mom had sent me two Christmases ago, I stared out the wide windows, watching the snow fall in droves to the ground. I started thinking about all the winters I had spent in Scarsdale, and how much I loved it. Running about with my sister, burying each other in the snow. How, one time, the family dog almost got run over by the snowplow. The gigantic snowman we made one year on the big hill behind our house which we later destroyed quite viciously.
The scary thing was that I wasn't sure if I actually missed that.
Apparently I had put a strange look on my face; Roger turned around on the couch and looked out the window. "What?"
I shook my head. "Nothing. Just thinking."
"Oh, that's where the smoke is coming from." Roger joked.
"Funny." I replied.
Roger smiled and got up from the couch to throw away his bread crust. "No, really. Keep going. We might get some heat up here."
I looked at him over the frames of my glasses as I poured myself a cup of coffee. He smiled at me. "Whatcha thinking about, anyway?"
I chuckled. "You'll laugh."
I rolled my eyes and leaned against the counter. "I'm thinking…I must be crazy."
Roger raised an eyebrow. I frowned, as if daring him to say what I figured he was about to say.
"I mean, I live here in this shitty apartment, cold and hungry and broke. And I've lived here for three years and it's always the same. I'm a poor starving artist who's always going to be a poor starving artist."
"There's always Scarsdale." Roger said, motioning to the answering machine, where my mother's voice emanated from every Sunday afternoon with news from my hometown about Cindy and the kids, and Dad and the family dog—the same one that had almost been run over by the snowplow.
I snorted. "Not even an option."
"Then starving artist it is." Roger said as he wiped crumbs off of the table onto the carpetless floor.
"No, but the crazy part is…I actually like it here."
Roger flashed me a toothy grin. "It's the pretty face, isn't it?"
I laughed aloud. "Yeah, sure. More like Mimi's pretty face."
Roger put on an expression of feigned hurt. "You slay me, Mark." He said in a voice that dripped of sarcasm.
"'You slay me?'" I repeated dubiously. "Where the hell did that come from? That's not a Roger line."
"I heard it in a movie once." Roger said. "And always wanted to say it. Thanks." He crossed the room and picked up his guitar case. "Anyway, I'm off to see my pretty face. Don't think too hard while I'm gone."
I cupped my coffee mug in both hands and smiled. "Will do."
Roger curled his scarf around his neck and stepped out of the loft, leaving me alone with my coffee.
After a while I returned to staring out the window. Yeah, I probably was crazy for loving the life I led. So what if I was a nut? I had friends, and my camera, and a life.
I was a happy nut.