far.) The further down I walked, the more I heard the exuberant beat of radios, the more I saw families dancing in their driveways underneath the rosy glow of Christmas lights, Coronas and chips left out on tables in their open garages. Black men in the middle of what looked like lifelong friendships sat in lawn chairs on the sidewalk outside their houses and played dominos, children zipped around in tight circles on razor scooters even though they probably should have been in bed hours ago. I felt more and more like an interloper with each step I took—until I finally arrived at my destination. Then I just felt like an idiot.
I stood before a large, decaying, gothic house surrounded by a sagittal iron fence, its front yard punctuated by a gnarled, overgrown tree that rested some of its branches across the entire roof. Snaking out of the front door down the stoop to the gate was a fabric tube, not unlike a huge collapsible hamper, segmented like a worm. I called Ryan.
“Please don’t tell me I’m at the right place.”
Maneuvering my way through the makeshift canal, tripping as I guided my feet up each step against the white nylon, I emerged through a crude slit painted, I guess, to resemble a vagina. Painted, no doubt, by a man.
“Well, hello, Alexander!” Ryan greeted me by the entrance decked out in a lavender track jacket, tight black pants, and a bejeweled snapback. He offered me a plastic mug that I could only hope contained alcohol. Or arsenic.
Unfortunately, it was Diet Coke.
“My friend Margot, the one I wanted you to meet, apparently has a piece here, but I can’t tell the difference between what’s on display and what’s decorating the walls of this monstrosity. Isn’t this place bizarre?”
College kids swarmed across the several dark rooms and staircases, sunglasses on despite the sun having set several hours ago, backwards visors, solo cups and mismatched mugs in tow. Ryan ushered me upstairs to find Margot. I lost count of the number of rooms,