“For years I wrote in my basement…” Mitch Albom

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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.”

 

Movin’ Out

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(This post is highly scattered; I had a hard time getting my ideas to coalesce into one solid post so it turned into a collection of all over the place thoughts on moving and where I am now.) 

Last Saturday I got into my car with my mom, my cat Tuppence, and pretty much everything I own, and drove 1200 miles across several states to the place where I will be starting my Master of Fine Arts program.

After a week of moving in, shopping at IKEA, unpacking, and learning how to use the air conditioner my mom went home. I really really loved having her and so miss her already, but apparently the people back at home were going to riot if I kept her. 

Now it’s just me and the cat.

 IMG_3801See how cute we are? 

Now it’s time for a new adventure. I know that going to school and getting a job don’t seem all that adventurous, but I figure adventure is relative, much like bravery.

Being alone is something I haven’t much experienced. My house is always loud and active. I enjoy being with my parents and my six younger siblings and leaving them was especially difficult for me.  

IMG_4046  Don’t we look fun and happy?  Clearly we don’t ever irritate, fight with, or throw things at each other. 

My apartment here is in a basement. A fact I wasn’t aware of until we arrived, opened the door and then had to walk down a flight of dingy basement steps to get to the actual living space. Being from the desert, I thought basements were made up. I’m getting used to it though. Now that I have some lights in the living room and a bed to sleep on and as long as I run through the outside hallway and up the stairs really quickly I can mostly pretend that I’m not living in a cave.

For today, I have nothing pertinent to do. A few notes to write, some drawers to organize, all pretty low key stuff. But starting tomorrow, I have to start actually being an adult. I have a tendency to become overwhelmed when I look too far forward and try to accomplish everything for the next six months in the next six minutes. So, in the spirit of eating the elephant one bite at a time, here is a list of long term and short term goals:

Long term goal (LTG): Get my MFA 

Short term goal(STG): Find the correct classrooms this week (as opposed to sitting through a lecture on intro to behavioral psychology, which, interesting as it is, probably has little bearing on my chosen career). 

LTG: Learn how to cook well, with a variety of recipes that I feel confident making.

STG: Don’t do this: 

 UnknownI should be good though because I have a pot specifically designated for ramen. 

LTG: Figure out how to handle my hair which cannot handle the humidity. 

STG: Have hair that doesn’t look like I just rolled out of bed when I go to church tomorrow. 

LTG: Learn how to get all around town. 

STG: Go back to here: 

IMG_8837 (I’ve heard it said that we fear what we do not understand. But this picture is full of things I don’t understand: water, large trees, and (I know you can’t see it but believe me it’s there) humidity, yet i feel surprisingly unafraid). 

But I guess really my main goals are to take it one step a time; to learn, all kinds of things; to meet new people; and even to get in a little bit of trouble.