Friday, October 7, 2011

Ode to our apartment

Batman, one of the most obnoxious features of being me is that when I am motivated - and I mean gung-ho, all engines firing on full blast, ready for anything, piss-and-vinegar motivated - pretty much the only thing that can really stop me is myself...and I am REALLY good at stopping myself. We're in the process of moving out of an apartment full of pretty major events, and while I am truly thrilled, I'm left with enough philosophical musing (and laziness, stress, and no small factor of fighting a head cold) to distract me from the full-throttle packing I really should be continuing.

This old apartment has some serious flaws. To start, the unit itself is on the third floor, making both moving and getting in and out with anything even vaguely heavy a truly unpleasant task. Hell, it frankly sucks at the end of a long day...and first thing in the morning, when legs aren't quite awake yet. Batman, never get an apartment above the second floor if there isn't an elevator. The bathroom is kind of tiny, which is okay, but the lighting fixtures give off this godawful yellow haze, and the ventilation fan sounds roughly like an idling, poorly repaired Soviet-era rocket. The toilet has been a source of constant adventure: it periodically half-flushes itself, which is not only noisy but terrifying if you happen to be sitting on it at the time, and has several times started gushing water for no reason whatsoever. There is a pretty huge mirror, which is nice, and this weird mirrored box-thing that serves in place of a medicine cabinet, which is kind of neat, but the cabinet under the sink is particle board that looks like someone (or something) chewed on it.

Speaking of which, let me move on to the kitchen. The cabinets might have cost someone a few shiny pennies sometime in the 80's, as they regularly shed particle board fragments, and are of such questionable structural integrity that I am left wondering how our dishes and glasses are still intact. We got a brand-new stove and fridge within the first year and a half that we lived here because the previous ones were so trashed from over/misuse, which was nice, but of course the nine hundred year old dishwasher remained. The kitchen sink periodically took a cue from the toilet and just gushed water everywhere, and the overhead lights basically stopped responding to a switch sometime about a year ago. The ceiling above the stove leaks in the rain, and fruit flies seem to love our drainage system, making them year-round accessories.

The bedrooms are really okay, except for the fact that black mold seems to love to collect around the edges of the windows. The closet space is awesome: I will legitimately miss having four MASSIVE closets that were not only deep, but tall and wide. The new place also has four closets, total, but I think all three of them could fit into two of the closets in the old place, probably with room to spare. There was a little deck-thing off the "dining area" (read: "space too small and awkward to use for anything but a pretty small dining table, but even that is pushing it,"), but it was small enough - and frequently enough clouded with a neighbor's cigarette smoke - that we basically never used it. Your father will push for wall-to-wall carpeting anywhere we live, but so help me, this place has turned me off forever. The carpet held on to a funk like nobody's business, and it is this awful tannish-grey that never looks clean, even after repeated vigorous vacuumings.

Oh, and the neighbors. Let me try to sum up each in a single sentence. There was the lady across the hall when we moved in who chain-smoked in the hallway, possibly blowing smoke under our door, just to piss us off after we asked her to stop, then spent the next three years sneering at us any time we passed one another. There was the dude downstairs who broke up with his sensible girlfriend a few months after we moved in, then started loudly discussing on his cell phone the pharmaceutical drugs he was trying to cell while chain-smoking on the porch at odd hours of the night. There was the next dude downstairs who (like his predecessor) broke up with his sensible girlfriend, then started bringing underage chicks home from where he worked (which was the only strip club in Portland) to have mind-blowingly loud, ungodly late-at-night drinking parties. There was also the really nice single mom with a young, polite daughter who lived on the second floor not below us, and we were really sad when they moved out, but it was to live with the mom's nice new boyfriend, so that was cool. They were replaced by a quiet Indian couple who are completely innocuous except for occasionally leaving piles of shoes in the hallway. On the bottom floor, we started with a guy who must have been some kind of diagnosably crazy, because he SCREAMED profanity at his two Golden Retrievers while they were running around off-leash, pooping everywhere, and they weren't even allowed in the building. There was then a young-ish guy who was nice enough, but who regularly set off the smoke alarm with his idiotic cooking. After him has been a quiet older woman who has something like a jillion cats. On the other side of the bottom floor is a family from Rwanda who literally let their children (aged 4-ish and 6-ish) run rampant through the apartment complex, hurling sticks at each other and leaving a trail of garbage and toys wherever they go. Right below us now is the complex's head of maintenance, who we really like now that his ex-con son has moved out and they no longer have screaming fights at 4:00AM. Other people in the complex range from quiet families and working folks to more unsupervised, rude children and jackholes who go through the parking lot at forty miles per hour.

Moving to a building that is clean, well-maintained, and in the middle of a residential neighborhood with a quiet older couple below us and a quiet single guy above us - and quiet families who we know all around us - is worth potentially losing a month's security deposit.

While some might call this place a crap-hole (which, by the standards of many, it is), I feel like we're leaving a lot behind. It's where your father pulled his head out of his...I your father decided to give in to my year of not-even-vaguely subtle hinting at the fact that we were already a couple to admit that yes, we were a couple, and a damn good one at that. It's also where we discovered uncountable wonderful movies, books, TV shows, dumb internet memes, and other glorious tidbits of media. It's where we suffered through grad school together, then spent the next year dragging each other through the mud of unemployment and a really damn hard first job. It's where we first put all our books on the same shelves, mixed together in alphabetical order so that we really couldn't have extricated our individual collections without some serious debate and probably hair-pulling. It's where we made you (and by that, I mean we placed an order online with the stork, and icky grown-up stuff has NOTHING to do with it). It's where we nursed each other through finding out about your heart. It's where we've spent countless hours complaining about work, celebrating those few tiny successes teachers get to claim, mourning losses and victoriously lauding accomplishments.

It's where we've lived for over four years. It's surreal to think that this morning was the last morning I will leave this building to drive to work. After this weekend, it's down a different flight of stairs to a different driveway. I'll write all about the new place as soon as we're actually in there, but for now, Batman, just think: when you live somewhere, it may just be a place, but it's impossible for it not to become part of you in a way.

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