Ashes, Etc. 

This is the soup can I mentioned in an earlier post.

It's a peach can, actually. Used as an ashtray. It was just outside my apartment door in Szolnok, in the hallway next to the elevator. I used to imagine how it had come to be there. Some guy standing around smoking and thinking to himself, "I'm tired of tapping butts into my hand every time I come out to have a smoke," then racing back into his kitchen to dig through the trash to find an empty peach can he could nail to the wall.

The apartment itself was meh. It was in an old Communist bloc building on the outskirts of town. My dog didn’t like it too much. I asked her why once, and she said it was because she didn’t like the cut of some scraggly white poodle’s jib who lived on the ground floor, but I think it was because she missed Austria. We went home every weekend, but still. Not the same.

What I didn’t like about the place?

--The electric bill, for one. The bill was divided evenly among the units--there was one meter for the entire building--so a single person (me), had to pay the same amount as, say, a family of seven.

--No WiFi. I had to drive to the parking lot of the McDonalds or the cafe near me for a connection.

--The man in the flat below me. He’d scream his wife from room to room. 

I liked my next door neighbors, though. They seemed nice enough. There was a lot of family squeezed into that small apartment, but there was always laughter and music coming from them. And the sumptuous aromas that came out of that kitchen? My god. Out of this world. Mouthwatering. Yum City. My dog would take long, dramatic sniffs at the air, then look at me with contempt. She knew then she’d been cheated her whole life. No aromas like that had ever come from my kitchen. Poor dog.