I grew up on a farm outside of the middle of nowhere and this place remained my home until I ventured to college. I’m not going to ramble on about what it meant to call this place home because that’s a post in itself, but I will say that when I refer to home, that’s still the place I’m talking about.
My parents helped me carry my million boxes up six flights of stairs to my dorm room. I will admit I cried a little that night as I laid in bed afraid of falling off my loft because the bar wasn’t attached, worried about “catching cancer” because the ceiling paint was chipping off onto my blankets and I was told the ceilings were still asbestos, and the street lamps were shining in the open window. How was I going to live there for a whole year if I couldn’t even sleep there for one night?! I spent many nights at my brother’s house because he at least had a kitchen to walk into, a coach to sit on, and even a doorbell to ring.
Then I got married. We moved into the university apartments because we thought we could save money on rent while going to college. We have a kitchen table, a tv, desk, love seat, and a bed, squeezed into a space smaller than my little sister’s room at home. Our dish rack and a coffee machine will fit on our counter, while the blender, mixer, and George Forman sit in boxes. I am a Pampered Chef consultant, so I can’t even begin to describe how much kitchen stuff I have in boxes at home that aren’t getting used because I don’t have a kitchen. The oven is so tiny only the smallest sized sheet pan will fit. We can’t even bake pizza on a pan or lasagna, my favorite meal.
I keep telling myself it’s only temporary and that it’s a place to start, at least we probably won’t ever do worse than this. Older people tell us we will look back on this and laugh and then they laugh and tell us to take pictures so we can always remember it. But I don’t think I could forget this place. I won’t forget what the place looked like when we moved in and how much we cleaned before I would even take my shoes off. I won’t forget that the windows are so old that when it rains it leaks in and runs down the wall. I won’t forget when our air conditioner leaked water and we called maintenance and they used our trash can to empty dirty water and then left it hanging over the toilet. I probably won’t forget when our bathroom sink clogged and it took them hours to fix because when they tried to unclog it, it shot out our neighbors sink. Or when our sink filled with dirty water because they flushed the pipes and our apartment is the last one on the block, getting everybody’s gross, disgusting, filthy water. We also had a hole in our ceiling from July to October because they had to get to a pipe above us and were too busy to come back. When they finally did they screwed a piece of tin over the whole and painted over it white. The tin standed out just as much as the fresh white coat does against the 100 year old off white. Our bathroom has no vent, so when we shower the ceiling gets wet and forms mold. The drywall in the bedroom is literally falling apart, leaving dust. When the people above us moved out, the cleaning ladies were mopping and the dirty mop water seeped through the cracks between the wall and the floor and rained into our apartment. I vacuum up dead bugs and cry when I see a live one. And during the heat of the summer, our apartment got hotter than it was outside, but there was nothing maintenance could do because we are the last apartment on the block. It’s cold water running through a pipe with air blowing on it, so they can’t do anything if the water isn’t cold by the time it gets to us.
These buildings will get torn down in a few years, so they can build all new because it’s more cost efficient than remodeling. I know it’s our own fault for trying to save money, but it baffles me that the place is literally falling apart and no repairs are being made to make it any more livable, yet my rent goes up.
I’m ready to start packing and let me tell you once that day comes I will have everything ready to go out this door in an hour. I’m not sure if I will look back and laugh or cry tears of joy that we got the hell out of here. Either way I’ve learned one thing, home is not a physical place, it’s where you feel safe and loved, it’s where you share life with those you love. Whether it gets better or worse or worse before it gets better, I will try to remain positive and remember I am starting and ending my days with my best friend and soul mate.