My building has history. When it was erected 96 years ago in Tacoma's original quarters, it was quite the spectacle. And expense! — coming in over budget at around $30,000, today's equivalent of $3,000,000,000!

The moneyed class lived in spacious apartments with the finest of modern amenities like chill boxes, food delivery shafts, fireplaces, servant bells and trundle beds. Though the apartments have since been divided up into small units, they still retain the trademarks and charms of their era.

Black servant help was the norm. Forbidden from entering through an apartment's central door, they came and went through a door leading into the kitchen.

I live in the building's old maid's quarters in the basement. Above me the apartments are gigantic, comfortable and bright from their plentiful windows. Mine is a hovel, a prison cell with better cuisine and comforts. It is haunted and traumatized by events like fire and hardships in lives.

The walls are heavy with the collective energies of those before me. Grief, sorrow, loss and struggle are palpable, the desperation, despair and loneliness heartbreaking. Sometimes I feel weepy for the stories and souls who linger here.

I lie in the claw-foot tub contemplating and communing with the servant women who decades ago lay in that very spot. I hear through their ears the sounds of life teeming above, the parties, the comings and goings of the upper crust. The loneliness of the servant tucked into the hovel beneath the grand lives and spaces above aches.

The bathroom is narrow and boxy, like a coffin. There are no windows and when the light's out it's pitch black. Once I slept on the floor and couldn't see my hand before my face!

The apartment's a storehouse of dark and draining energies unrelated to its minimal windows; natural light never reaches 1/3 of the apartment due to its design.

To the left just down the hall is the grand card room – ballroom. I've not seen inside. The resident has a sweeeeet deal and pays little for a space that stretches across the building's front. It'd take a bulldozer to move him.

This is the door to the maid's quarters (aka my space). At one time hundreds upon  hundreds of eyes laid rest on this door as the guests and residents descended the stairs and turned right toward the ballroom. Now the turn left to the laundry room.

This is my closet. Two murders took place here.

I can hear the pushing and shoving and two males with voices raised and one male who didn't stand a chance. It wasn't a random killing, neither the first time some of these men had met or their first taste of violence either.

On the wall just outside my apartment is this door:


There are things that shall never be for public reading that have occurred here in my time – nearly three years. I remember the overwhelming relief of moving in, freed from the nazi queen roommate. I was optimistic and had reason to be for life was finally and gradually moving onto a better track. I had my own space again. A job I loved. A neighborhood I loved and town too. Money wasn't great but at least on an upswing. Then 10 days later I unexpectedly was laid off. And everything and I mean EVERYTHING changed. I've not held a job in 20 months.

Doors. There was no way of knowing, when I moved in full of optimism, the doors that would slam shut.

I fumble and stumble and drag belly across broken glass toward this door down the hall:

I hope to make it and not become a casualty of this apartment and doors shut on lives while the music plays upstairs.

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