I always feel like something awful will happen if I leave my apartment, but I do because explaining this is harder than the actual act of going out. I’m ready to leave, grab my things and close the door behind me and it hits me: the keys are still inside. I locked myself out for the first time. Not the first time since I moved here, but the first time ever. I won’t even bother explaining how it happened. My stomach sank the same way it does when I present something and nobody says anything. My first reaction is to twist and shake the knob, because that’s what people do in the movies. After a few minutes I convince myself there’s nothing I can do. I’ve only been up for about an hour and I’ve already done enough bargaining with myself and a cab is waiting at the gate, so I leave. Calling my absent landlord isn’t an option, the guy lives in Philadelphia and there’s nothing he can do from there. I remember the realtor’s name. The realtor with the frosty tips, the porcelain veneers and the black BMW. I call him and it goes to voicemail. I never leave messages; I have an absurd fear of saying something really stupid and it being recorded for posterity. But I leave the most self-deprecating voicemail in the history of voicemails. “Hi, it’s Tits McGee. You rented me a unit on Goddamn It St NE back in January. I’m an idiot. I locked myself out a few minutes ago. Please let me know if you still have that second key. My number is (fuck fuck fuck) shit shit shit - fuck shit fuck fuck. Please call me back when you get this. God I’m an idiot. Thanks.” The cab driver listened to the whole thing and laughed. He said I could always call a “smithlock.” “There’s one on Ponce and Monroe. Call a smithlock instead, miss.” He was a stutterer. He kept looking back at me and smiling and repeating I should call a “smithlock” until I said, “yes, a locksmith, maybe I’ll do that if all else fails.” I’m an asshole.
I remembered reading one of Sloane Crosley’s essays a few days before, about how she got locked out of her old and new apartment in the same week. I thought what kind of idiot lets something like that happen. I sat back, frowning so hard my head hurt while thinking of a diagram of the inside of a lock I saw a while back, of all the bobby pins buried at the bottom of my purse, of which window I could break, of who’s couch I could crash on that night.
It’s noon. The traffic on Piedmont is never this bad.