Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Improper poll: Those First Apartments

It’s that time of year when college students everywhere head back to dorms…and those really bad apartments. My very first apartment was one I shared with two other girls. The living room had a beanbag chair and little else. The carpet looked like the fur from a stuffed animal that’s been hugged way too much and washed way too little.

I moved in after the rules had been established, and the others had decided to split the chores. Problem was, there was that inevitable roommate who never did hers. You could always tell when it was her turn because garbage and dishes would become ridiculously tall sculptures. It was a game to see how high we could get them before they either fell over or she noticed that it was her turn. The garbage always fell over.

She also cooked huge meals for herself when it wasn’t her turn to do the dishes. It was torture for me to have to wash them, because we didn’t share food. My grocery store had specials on five yogurts for a dollar and five cans of soup for a dollar, so that was what I lived on during the work week. On weekends I’d eat at my future mother-in-law’s and listen to her exclaim to everyone within earshot what a mystery it was that I could be so skinny and eat like such an enormous pig. I just smiled and ate.

What was your first apartment like?


  1. My first place was actually a small cinderblock house (rented) which I shared with a boyfriend (soon to be husband and then soon to be ex-husband). The owners must have loved blue, because the livingroom/familyroom had royal blue carpet and the walls were painted blue, too. It was on a gravel road, and up the hill was a neighborhood store that was more shack than store.

    I'm sure Walmart gobbled it up decades ago...

  2. I shared my first apartment with my best friend from high school. It was a miniscule upstairs apartment in a very old building (probably full of asbestos) in an equally old part of town. We barely had room to turn around, but the excitement of having "our own place" made us blind to its size or condition.

    Critter Alley

  3. My first apartment was a large room with three beds and a kitchenette. I rented it for the winter with two other girls who commuted to jobs in Vancouver with me. We all lived with our parents in the suburbs, really, but the "apartment" was a way of avoiding bad-weather rush-hour drives on bad-weather Canadian roads. It was the winter of '65 or '66, I'm not sure.

  4. My first apartment was a nice two-bedroom in Springfield, paid for by my parents, and shared with a high school friend.

    My most interesting apartment was in Sheldon, Missouri, during my second year of teaching. It was a room in a converted railroad hotel. The train tracks, still active, were about 15 feet from the building. I had an upstairs apartment, trainside, with a bedroom at the back that was a converted porch, slanted at a 30-degree angle. The wall kept me from rolling out of bed. The whole place vibrated like it was going to collapse every time the train came through.

  5. First apartment ($40 a month) three rooms on the second floor, in a four family flat. The guy next door upstairs played the tuba in a band and practiced all the time.

  6. My first apartment was one I moved in to with first soon to be ex husband number one... I lived in my sister's house before that.

  7. My first apartment was a second floor walk-up. We had a kitchen, living room, and bedroom. We had to SHARE a bathroom with a random guy in the next apartment. The apartment was furnished and the sofa was infested with cockroaches. Every time the oil burning furnace lit, I thought we were going to explode. It was altogether horrible and I was so happy to leave.


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