When I finally said good-bye to my shabby apartment

I can’t believe another month has flown by and we’re almost into December.  Tonight’s topic is:

Write about a time you had to say goodbye.

 (Your first instinct may be to focus on a sad goodbye and focus on a person, that’s of course fine if it’s where your mind takes you. But also consider happy goodbyes, goodbyes you don’t necessarily understand yet, or ones that involve a house or a TV show, a job or a camp, a stuffed animal or a car.)

 I spent a few minutes thinking about what to write.  The last few months have been a little stressful, so I didn’t feel like writing about anything serious or heart-heavy tonight.  I’m therefore writing about a happy good-bye, the time when I moved out of a run-down apartment with no regrets whatsoever.

I began renting the place when I was in graduate school.  I’d been sharing a house with three other girls when one of my roommates announced that her little sister also wanted to move in.  With just three bedrooms, (one of which was furnished with bunk beds), that meant one of us would be sleeping in the living room.  Since I didn’t exactly have the best rapport with these people, that person would most likely be me.

With just two weeks to move out, I scrambled to find a place I could afford and that would let me move in right away.  One of my friends told me the unit directly downstairs from her was vacant.  The previous tenants had just moved out and had disconnected all the utilities.  The only time I could stop by was in the evening.  I brought a friend with me, and he and I explored the premises with a flashlight.  (The things you resort to when you’re in college).

It wasn’t in the greatest condition.  Not only that, but the old tenants had left behind a couch.  Because of that one couch, the landlord told me he was going to charge me higher rent for a furnished apartment unless I consented to him removing the couch.  I didn’t care about a stupid sofa, and wasn’t about to pay any more for that place than I had to, so I readily agreed to have the couch taken off the premises.

My apartment complex had a name– Colonial Square.  But I called it Colonial Lair because it was so old and drab, and people liked the name.

As the years progressed, I had one issue after another with that apartment.  On three different occasions, the heating system broke down– always on bitter cold nights when I couldn’t go without it.  The first time it happened, my landlord couldn’t be found.  A friend from church who worked for the gas company fixed my heater for free.  The second time it died because it was nearly rusted in two.  I learned to use space heaters wisely and realized how much people loved me when they invited me to spend the night at their homes to take refuge from the frigid conditions in my temporary igloo.

I was teaching in those days and considered buying a house, but gave up that dream when I went into college ministry.  In that position, I was living on missionary support and would barely be able to pay the rent, much less worry about house payments, property taxes and costly home repairs.

Not long after that, sewage began backing up into my apartment.  It took forever for the company that was managing the building to get some one out to really fix the problem, even when other tenants in the complex experienced similar issues.

Then there was the constant noise.  I jokingly referred to my apartment as “my cardboard box” because the walls were so thin you could hear everything.  I knew when the guy upstairs used the bathroom.  My next-door neighbor enjoyed having raucous, pot-smoking parties at all hours of the night.  After he (finally) moved out, a man with two small children moved in.  They visited him every weekend, and when they ran up and down the stairs of their townhouse-style dwelling, it sounded like some one was knocking down bowling pins in my bedroom.   Twice I had to call the police because of volatile domestic disputes upstairs.

When my now-husband asked me to marry him, we talked about where we would live after we tied the knot.  We joked that we could just move into my apartment, but that’s not something we would have ever seriously considered.  He had a nice, modern modern home in a quiet neighborhood.  (And no, I did not marry him for the house).

I moved out of that apartment in late October, just a couple days before the wedding. And, wouldn’t you know, on the last day, as I was scrubbing floors and polishing windows, my apartment gave me one more reminder of why I didn’t want to live there, as if I needed one.  The toilet broke– it just wouldn’t flush.  Staying in character until the very end, my apartment gave me its version of a send-off, I suppose.  I think getting out of there was one of my happiest good-byes, second only to graduating from high school, but that’s another topic for another blog post.

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