My cousin told me that some people pretend to live above their means and that it was very good that I live squarely within mine, even if there is no bath tub. Even if the place should actually be condemned. We wonder sometimes if maybe the management would rather see it burn down and that's why the furnace is so over enthusiastic and rattly. I bought renter's insurance the day I moved in.
Downstairs lives a cigarette smoking, thirty-something hero from Nebraska. He was in charge of the entire democratic campaign for the state of Washington, he has gay marriage and legalized pot to his name. I think about this when he plays awful music in the morning and it reverberates into my bedroom; I remind myself about his accomplishments, and decide I don't need to complain.
I met a boy two weeks ago who plays hockey. He was funny and I asked him on a date. He said yes and then he got mono. He got mono the very next day.
The apartment has its own charm. Somewhere. I haven't found it yet, but it's there. My roommate is an artist, she's hung art all over the walls. She put two pictures of sailors, a mate and a midshipman, over the sink, that I particularly like. There is a joyous squirrel who resides in the walls and scurries around all of the time, doing his busy squirrel things. We see him outside, chewing on a nut and jumping all over the roof. He's the wildest guy. We're not hostile towards him even though the sound of his little claws scratching within the insulation can be unnerving.
Three weeks ago my banker sweet-talked me into switching checking accounts. He said it made the most sense for my needs, and then he made a big mistake and linked all the new cards to the old account. That night I went to dinner with my ex boyfriend, and I wasn't coming off as very cool or collected, and then, just to drive the point home, my card was declined. "Not enough funds perhaps?" asked my ex boyfriend while I twitched at the unfairness of it all.
The next day the banker put on his sympathetic and apologetic smile, very similar to the one worn by the waitress who took my tearful order the night before. "I hope this didn't cause you too much trouble!" said the banker, voice booming. He was cheerful, a real guy's guy with a thick wedding band and a terrible watch.
"No trouble," I said, "Only deep seated humiliation." And then I made him sit through the whole story, the dinner and why we were at the dinner, and how it ended, and how I felt about it all. That was his punishment for the part he played in the bank's causing me to appear less than put together, as if drinking my dinner and hiding behind my hair like a middle schooler hadn't already given it away.
The shitty apartment has its perks. When the guy from Nebraska is out hanging with the president (literally) I can play loud 90s music with no regard for the well being of the rest of the world. 90s music, it's really speaking to me right now. Sonny's come home many times in the last month. Today's top hits are a little too spunky for me these days. Sometimes I'll fall lightly asleep in the middle of the day and hope that by the time I wake up this country's obsession with Adam Levine will be over.
The walls in the apartment are the color of a bandaid, honestly, sort of a tan fabric-y skin color. But there is a pantry- a whole room for food!- and just in general, things are looking up. I went to a party the other night and looked great, by my standards. I even pulled off the eye liner. I met a cinematographer who was slight in build but very handsome and accomplished and he took down my number. That was many days ago.
The apartment is covered in a beige carpet, everywhere except the kitchen. It looks terrible but it's quite soft under the feet. My roommate comes home from work, dressed in all black down to the underwear, and we sit on the carpet three inches from the furnace. I read an article that says that sex and alcohol make you happier than religion. "Well," I say, "there will always be alcohol." Once I army-crawled from my bedroom to the kitchen and retrieved a beer out of the fridge on my stomach because I found it really funny.
I've never once, not one time in my life, gotten away with wearing a crisp white anything. It's always stained before I even leave the house, and I use the passive tense because I don't cause the stain, it just happens. I went on a date the other night and I wore a long green sweater. It was great, lose, it made me appear bony, and I'm not bony. I stained the sweater and the most baffling part was, I didn't even eat anything on the date. Therefore I can't fathom the origin of the stain which looked like balsamic. The poor guy, he ordered dinner but I just drank a beer. And when he (eventually) asked me a question about myself I said, "Oh me? I think I'm depressed."
I'm not depressed at all. But I was a little depressed at the time because I didn't want to be on the date. Unfortunately I think he found my forthrightness (or maybe my boniness) intriguing and after he finished his dinner he ordered another drink.
We only signed a six month lease on the apartment because it's going to be destroyed after we leave, and a condo built in its place. That really made me question the pet deposit. I will miss the kitchen though. The kitchen is tiled and spacious, a real selling point. It's a good place to cook soup and to make breakfast at six in the morning before dashing off to the ski hill. In the evenings I like to fix a drink, open Facebook and spend an hour or so comparing what people have accomplished in their entire lives to what I've accomplished in the last 24 hours. I never measure up well. So many people and their fiances and back country ski trips that are way better than mine. And the houses! Was I supposed to be saving money this whole time so I too could be captioning my photos with things like 'it's a fixer upper for sure but we loooove the wood floors!" I just charged my coffee to a credit card; somebody please explain this gap.
The location of our apartment just can't be beat. There is a fruit stand a few blocks away called Top Banana. We always have bowls and bowls of fruit that we liquify and drink with gusto. We are bizarrely healthy. I can walk everywhere, to the dark cafe where all the writers go and talk loudly about our unreasonably demanding agents (we don't really have agents). I walk to the funky gym inside the old hotel, the nice grocery store, the bar with pin ball machines, the pizza place and the pet store that's managed by a semi-famous poet. I love our neighborhood. I never drive anywhere.
I finally got my bicycle back from my ex boyfriend, after the dinner where the card was declined. We bolted the bicycle to the back porch but if anyone wanted the bicycle they could take down the back porch with a nail file. We don't hang out on the porch, it wobbles. My first night in the place I opened three windows, and all the locks peeled off in my hands. Just like that.
I want the world to know that even though the apartment is shitty, it doesn't mean we're unhappy living here. In fact I'd like to be the spokesperson for those of us nearing 30 and still living in bland places with tacky carpeting. I'd make a good candidate for this job because my life is lucky and wonderful, just not from an observer on the street. We're pretty broke but we're getting by, and we have a lot of good friends and a few side projects which might turn us into big stars one day. We might be kind of quiet about where we live, or other certain parts of our lives, but it's not because we're ashamed. It's because we're probably focused on other things right now.
The walls in my apartment are dreadfully textured and half the outlets don't work, but if I could change anything about my life, it would have nothing to do with where I lived. I might change the minds of the editors at the big magazines, or at least speed up their response times. I'd change the numbers in my bank account so that I could afford a new camera before I die. While I'm at it, I'd shorten the recovery time for mono by five months and make my hair behave at all times, especially at night, especially when I bump into the cinematographer at the grocery store wearing that stupid sweatshirt which hides my nicely sculpted shoulders.
And I'd like the cinematographer to call me, although something tells me he never will. I can't understand that for one second, because honestly if I met myself at a party, I'd call. I'd call right away, I wouldn't even play the game.