There were many things I wanted to say today, but as I sat down, sunburned and more tired than I’ve been in memory, I realized there was only one thing I could truly talk about.
The last month has been a whirlwind for me and mine. After five years of apartment life, we finally were able to settle down in a place where we could call our own.
It’s certainly what you’d call “modest,” if you were being polite. Everything needs at least a little TLC. The yard is mostly comprised of gardens that have been neglected for at least three years, according to the neighbors. I don’t understand whose bright idea it was to carpet the bathrooms (of which, for the first time, we have two). None of the light switches make a lick of sense.
And everything is perfect—in all its maddening, bizarre, and unexpected imperfections.
Because it’s ours. And now, it’s home.
Five years ago, when I crashed on the couch of the man who would end up my beloved, I never expected to stay. It was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, while I got my feet under me after graduating from college and fleeing from a toxic situation.
But you know what they say about the best-laid plans. At least in this case, it really was for the better.
As it so happened, though, the apartment I’d landed in had its own sordid history, long before I’d even gotten there. (A story for another day, perhaps.) Either way, he’d never truly settled in either, and now I’d added all my shit on top of it.
From there on out, it was a struggle to try and combine our two households. So much was never truly unpacked that we were always loath to guess who had what, how many of our books or movies were repeats, or what we did and didn’t need. Although we tried to patch our material lives together, it was always an uphill battle fought at the same time we were trying to live our daily lives.
Needless to say, it ended up a mostly insurmountable mess.
Of course, we’d been saying we wanted to move anywhere else since Day One. The living space of that apartment had been designed by a very specific kind of sadist, one that liked to watch residents slowly go crazy as they realized that it was impossible to get any sort of air movement and that all the wallspace was so awkwardly arranged that it was impossible to use efficiently. The shower had been installed poorly and was a horrifying cesspool of mold no matter how many times we called maintenance. The landlord was a clone of the same greasy-haired and crooked-lipped man that manages every complex across the US, and he was (like all his fellows) a bastard. Plus, every year the rent crept ever higher as what we were offered was less and less.
But, every year, something came up. Every year, as we signed that damned lease, we promised it’d be the last time.
Last year, we were finally right.
Moving was hell, of course. We were still trying to throw the last of our things into boxes at 3am, six hours before the movers were supposed to arrive. As we watched them drag away our stuff and reveal all the dust and grody corners of our stale little apartment, we joked-didn’t-joke about just setting it all on fire. All the while, the movers boggled and tried to figure out how to pack a truck full of boxes alternately marked “Books” or “Fragile – Glass.”
We continued to joke-not-joke about arson as we attempted to find places for the myriad of lamps and other bizarre leftovers once the movers had come and gone. Our room between stacks of boxes grew smaller and smaller, and so did our patience. We laughed less about that joke-not-a-joke as we tried to scrub five years of living out of a cheap carpet that we knew would never be clean enough, no matter what we did or had done.
Then, last Thusday, it was all over. Once and for all, we turned in our keys to that crappy two-bedroom nightmare that was full of mold and frustration, and left for good.
Friday, we bought a patio swing.
On Saturday, after not enough breakfast and too much sunscreen, I put that patio swing together while my beloved tried to rake three years worth of decay and leaves out of our gardens.
And on Sunday, we dug up wooden garden edging that crumbled under our plastic rake and realized that rotting timber smells uncomfortably like shit. After dragging it all away, we sat on our patio swing and drank lemonade. Straight from the container, because we only knew where two of our glasses were, and they were both dirty.
Everything is still in boxes, and I have no idea where anything is. I don’t remember what real food—the kind that doesn’t come from fast-food chains or out of the microwave—tastes like. All of our poor menagerie of animals is just as tired, frazzled, and neglected as we are.
But after it all, I don’t think I’ve ever felt better.
Welcome home, baby. I look forward to finding everything we own again—together.