Friday, April 23, 2010

The Little Apartment that Could (But Can't Anymore)

Believe it or not, I get really nervous about change.

Oh, sure, I can dye my hair bright red at the drop of a hat or add $500 worth of tattoo ink to my skin, but when it’s time to dive into something that shakes up everything about the way we live, I get sentimental.

We’re moving next week. And, lordy, I am so so happy. But before this house became a nightmare, before the crazy lady upstairs and before the landlords let it slip into slum-dom, this house was something special to me at a point when I really needed.

I feel like reminisching a bit as we begin pulling pictures off the walls and taping up boxes.

Adventures on Young Drive:

A little more than three years ago this month, I was lost. I was on my own for the first time in a long, long time and I was scared. I had a crummy job that paid peanuts, but I had my son and I had my freedom. And you had a vacancy. Amazing how things work out like that.

When I shuttled the first box of dishes through thefront door, and rounded the kitchen wall, I was in awe. My very first kitchen with my very own dishes that I didn’t have to defend or “put up with.” I could put saints all over your wall just because I wanted to. There was no dishwasher, but I was happy to do our dishes by hand because they were, in fact, just ours. Me and the Boy Wonder. For the first time in a long, long time (maybe ever?) I was driving the ship and responsible for every single moving part--every bill, every dollar...everything. My responsiblity. And man, did it feel good. (Ok, so since then, I've come to realize it's not ALWAYS so fantastic to be responsible for everything, but at that point, I thought it was pretty freaking cool.)

I bought new furniture because I had none. In the divorce, I gave up everything just to keep the one thing I wanted—me. I remember the day the movers showed up five hours late with my new couches and the new bunkbed with a slide for Boy Wonder. Those guys took another three hours, at least, trying to build that stupid bed and on the first trip down the slide, Boy Wonder (he was three years old at the time) crashed when his feet got stuck on the metal, sending him flying into the wall. He called it a “bad bed!” and avoided that slide for about a month. He stayed with his father every other week for a while there, and when it was just me alone in that house, I felt at peace. I had my space. I had my freedom. And while I didn’t have my son for 7 days at a time, I knew he’d be back soon enough.

For the first year and a half, I didn’t own much by way of a cable or entertainment. I had an old-fashioned TV that had a VCR deck in it, and when I moved in, the previous tenant had somehow left two VHS tapes behind—“Phenomena” and “The Sound of Music.” At that time, I’d just found out about my brain aneurysm a few weeks before, so I had absolutely NO desire to watch “Phenomena,” despite how great of a movie it was.

So each night I’d lie on the world’s most uncomfortable futon (Boy Wonder got the new bed, not me), with boxes upon boxes of unpacked knickknacks, and eat dinner with Julie Andrews. Every night. For weeks at a time. I’d never seen the movie before and now it’s one of my favorites. For a while there, I felt just how Frauline Maria felt—in between two worlds, trying to find her place.
My landlords were my close friends. I was extremely close with the other residents and getting out and exploring the wild Eagle River nightlife (I’m kidding here), helped move me forward at a time when I just wanted to hide away for a few months’ longer.

Times changed. They always do and they always should. Neighbors moved on. The landlords sold the place off.

At the same time, P (and eventually Boo) filled that void that missing in our lives. And this perfect-fitting, insulating home that I’d loved now was overcrowded and costing us both a lot of money with the long commute. We had more laundry than we could keep up with and always running out of quarters. We inherited a neighbor who makes us crazy. Dogs that charged us whenever we stepped outside.

Our lives are moving in a direction where we need to be closer to Anchorage. Our friends are there. Our jobs our there. Education is there. Life is there.

We’d lost hope for finding a decent, safe place that we could make a home in the city until some good friends of ours came to our rescue. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? In 2007, I was just about out of hope that I’d ever find a place for Boy Wonder and myself that I could afford that would make us happy when the housing fairy waved her magic wand at us. Happened again in 2010. A beautiful place with three bedrooms, a washer, a dryer, a dishwasher. A place to start up new and make a home.

I couldn’t be happier, and in a way, I owe a big part of it to that little apartment on Young Drive that gave me that second chance to start over.

Farewell, little abode… and hello, Anchorage!

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