Before I put my life into the back of my Ford Escape and drove cross country, I found an apartment in my new town. I signed a lease, and arranged with the leasing agent for it to be ready for me to move in when I arrived. My mom and I got into town on a Sunday night, spent the night at a hotel, and on Monday morning I picked up the keys from the leasing office.  My mom, the antsy cat, and I drove over to the apartment to see it for the first time.

I opened the door and stepped onto the first of a flight of dingy stone steps.  And that’s when I found out that my apartment was in fact a basement unit. I filed this piece of information under things that it would maybe have been nice to know beforehand, and then headed down the aforementioned stairs. I followed the seriously sketchy stairs to a curving, sketchy hallway, past a warm sketchy laundry room, and to another door, which is actually a little bit broken so the door doesn’t latch but if you lock it does technically stay closed, making it, you guessed it: sketchy. 

Fortunately, the inside of the actual apartment has things like carpet, and a noted absence of bugs. I did however, feel upon entry that due to the single window (which looks out directly onto the ground) it felt a lot like a cave. I would have loved to have sat in the middle of my dark, empty apartment and cried, but I had more important things to do, namely: carry a carload of boxes from the curb, up three steps, around the back of the house, down the sketchy stairs, and through the hall.

My mom kept reassuring me that once we got my things unpacked and added some additional lighting it would feel like a place I could actually live. I was more than happy to start unpacking things, but I learned rather quickly that the apartment has absolutely no storage other than the kitchen cabinets. There’s no towel cabinet, there’s no actual closet (although there is a little depression in the wall with some pretty heavy-duty wire shelving that someone installed, so I have a faux-closet), there isn’t a medicine cabinet in the bathroom, there’s not even a little shelf in the shower for soap. 

A couple of days later my mother and I ventured to IKEA, and after we spent seventeen years wandering those halls I left with a bed frame with storage space, a bright blue chair, lights, and other miscellaneous things I probably didn’t need but was convinced I could not live without. Through some miracle wherein I think we defied a few laws of nature we got everything into the back of my car and drove the hour and a half back to my apartment.  Then the fun started.  

We had to retrace the path we had used to move in my boxes only this time it was with a hundred-pound bed frame, longer than I am tall.  We decided that the best way to do it was to leave the box in the back of the car, open it up and carry the bed frame in a few pieces at a time. This happened to coincide with the time of evening when a lot of other people on my street sit on their front lawns or porches and watch what’s going on in the neighborhood; I was happy to provide the evening’s entertainment. 

We assembled the bed with surprisingly few problems and then did the same with a small table and a desk. Then I unpacked things using the drawers in my bed and the faux-closet (I just pretend it has a door), and put up the lights which make it actually feel like daytime, during the day.

As both of my parents had predicted, once my things were where they belonged and I had hung pictures on the wall, the apartment stopped feeling like an unlivable dungeon, and started feeling like a totally livable, kind of homey cave.

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(The queen has claimed her spot.)

So here I am a couple of weeks in, and I think I’m starting to adjust to my new living space, but the apartment is still not without its interesting moments. The other day I decided to install a wireless doorbell on my outside door, so that if anyone ever actually wants to come and see me I would know. The problem was I needed to test whether or not the doorbell and the receiver were close enough together, and I knew there was no way I could hear the doorbell in my apartment from the top of the stairs. So I called my dad, left the phone downstairs (with the promise to return in a minute or two), ran up the stairs to press the button and then hurried back down the stairs to ask my dad if he had heard the doorbell ring while I was gone (he had).  

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(The outside door, complete with doorbell and super classy neon yellow sticky note about not letting cat out.)

Based on these first few weeks, I fully expect to discover more fun and exciting things about my apartment as the year goes on, so be sure and stay tuned. 

 

Words of encouragement I received while I was freaking out about the apartments: 

“Oh wow, a basement?  You can pretend you’re batman in your own little cave”

“Well exposed clothes hangers are really in these days!”

“You have to go up and down those stairs? Your calves are going to look great.” 

“Maybe your dresser should be a wardrobe. Then you can go to Narnia too.”

“Just cram everything inside the kitchen cabinets. People will come over and they’ll be like can I have a drink.  And you’ll say,  yes the glasses are next to my skirts.”

 

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