Saturday, June 22, 2013
I've never felt at home anywhere the way I do in this apartment. When I was young, we changed houses the way some people change bedsheets. I imagined nothing different for my life when I signed a rental agreement for this 1909, wood-floored, big-windowed apartment. In three years, I'll be out of here, I thought. II stayed six, and though I'm sitting on the floor now, with Lafayette smelling every box as I type, I am finally leaving.
This is where I learned to take pictures, where we kissed the first time. It's where I said goodbye over and over again. I stocked my first shelves here with a bottle of Pimms and a tin of cumin. That first year, I bought a new spice with every paycheck. I made only $7.80 an hour, but when I saved enough, sometimes I bought a bottle of whiskey. I fell asleep to the rumble of buses and motorcycles, woke up to my cat chirping at birds. I watched at least eight cars crash into the tree outside.
I stacked my books two deep on every shelf, kept a string of Christmas lights hung across the window for all but the first six months. I lined the walls with snapshots and kept my nicest bowls in the liquor cabinet, filled with cat treats. After you left your aloe vera here in 2008, I let it die then brought it back to life again. I think that happened a few times, but eventually, I learned to keep a plant (or 20) alive without any Lazarus-like miracles.
This is where I held the Monday night dinners, the annual Valentine's party. This is where we danced and collapsed, where I grew too old to party anymore. This is where you said to me, so devastatingly in 2007, "It's a nice place for a 24-year-old."
It was a nice place for any age, except for those days when it wasn't -- when the ceiling leaked for two years, when the hot water went out every week, when silverfish darted underneath midnight steps to the bathroom. It was too hot in the summer, too hot in the winter, but I never tired of the view. The rounded arch moldings reminded me of jazz when I toured the apartment, and I dreamed I could become a great writer here. I never became great, but I won't hold it against the molding.
My new place is one mile north. It doesn't have the view of the Fremont bridge or the totally uncomfortable fire escape. It doesn't have my neighbors, Amy and Milan, whom I've spent half a decade getting to know in the two feet of hallway between our doors. But it has two more cats, a big backyard and a girlfriend who knew exactly all the right things to say to me on one of the worst days of my entire life. That is, it has everything I need, here at 30. I unpacked my shoes and my books first. It's already home.