Searching For Home

In moments of great stress, every life form that exists gives out a tiny subliminal signal. This signal simply communicates an exact and almost pathetic sense of how far that being is from the place of his birth.

– Douglas Adams

Husband and I are on the hunt for a new place to live. Or, more specifically, on the hunt for a town to settle down into on the outskirts of the city we’re now residing in. I end up writing a lot of fiction with location at the heart of the plot (Vacancy is no exception), so I’ve definitely internalized the significance of place, and I have a soft spot for the epic quest which you could call the exact opposite of a location-based plot. As Husband and I visit suburbs and feel places out, I’m finding myself contemplate what “home” is more and more, both where you live and where you’re from. I think I so often like to write my characters as finding purpose in their place by being impacted by it or trying to find it because I don’t know that I’ve ever really felt whatever it is that people experience as Home. In that sense, my stories, like those of so many authors, are wish fulfillment.

I find “where are you from?” a difficult question to answer. “Everywhere,” though easy, is definitely not accurate–there are people who really are “from” lots of places, but for me, listing off the specifics is tedious and really only blog post worthy, and just narrowing it down to one place feels like a disingenuous answer.

I could say I’m from New England. I was born in Massachusetts so technically my origin point, beyond my mother’s womb, is there, but I left before my second birthday. On the few occasions I’ve been back to visit, I’ve gotten this feeling, the “I’m in close range of the place I was born” feeling, but I don’t think that’s the same as Home. I was also raised by people who were born and lived almost their entire lives there, so the culture of the house I grew up in had a very New English vibe.

I could say I’m from Florida. I spent my formidable years there where my standard for everything was shaped. I learned about the world through a sandy lens, truly middle class, never saw–or wanted to see–snow. The suburb I lived in was sleepy but it was certainly not small town, nor was it anything close to urban. It just was. The defining characteristic of that city was that it had none.

I could say I’m from Ohio. I became a teenager there, a college student, an adult. But instead of being molded by the midwest, I always felt like I was just observing it. Even at twelve I found a lot of things fairly odd in Ohio, the accents, the mindset, the jargon, and while I conceptually understood that people from different places were, well, different, I never had to explain to anyone when I lived in Florida that I was not born there. Ohio never extended that courtesy, and I was perpetually an outsider by my own actions and those of others.

Once I was an adult, I moved back to Florida, and there was at the very least a small chance that I was chasing Home. I remembered being happy there and idealized it, but the reality of the state was that is was not the beachy, progressive, sunny place I remembered. Well, it certainly was sunny, but long gone were the sparsely populated beaches and the memories I had of people being happy.

So here Husband and I are in Georgia which is never a state I would have pictured myself in. Maybe we’ll live here forever, maybe it will only be a year. At this point in our lives and in the current economy, we follow job opportunities so that, perhaps, many years down the line, we can follow our hearts. But to where?

There are a couple places I feel like I would probably be happy, might feel like I fit in, couple possibly call Home, but the disappointment that was returning to Florida has really changed my perspective of that. See, I thought when I went back I’d feel like I belonged, that seeing the ocean and escaping what I thought was centralized conservatism would be comforting. That didn’t happen, (to be fair seeing the ocean still makes me cry happy tears, it’s just almost impossible to actually get to), and I realized Florida never really was–or it couldn’t have been–Home.

So maybe I’ll never have that feeling, and maybe that’s okay. My brain has figured out a way to give me phantom nostalgia every time I hear a song by Billy Joel or see a cassette tape, so it’s not like I don’t have any experience with the concept of “happy longing,” and maybe it’s better this way. Home can’t let you down if it never existed, and you can’t really miss something that was never there. Keep your heroes alive by making them fictional, right?

And when the planet gets blown to bits I won’t be nearly as sad as everyone else which puts me in prime position to snatch up the new Supreme Leader title.

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The Big Move Part III: Resignation

Part I and Part II if you’re interested.

Cat wrangling, much like ballet, is simultaneously an art and a sport. It leaves you breathless as well as creatively drained. On the morning we were to finally leave, the Thursday after Valentine’s Day and a day behind schedule, our furry children had to be put in cat carriers to be transported for the long drive. This is that story.

We rose on moving day at about 4am. There was, of course, more work to do because moving is interminable. In fact, I believe a shadow of myself still haunts my old house, forever carrying boxes from one room to another, lingering in doorways and sighing mournfully over dust. We loaded the bed, frame, and headboard into the truck, Husband packed away what little food we had left, and I did a final sweep for things we may have missed. I attempted to ignore the fact that this was likely the last time I would ever be in that house. You see, I loved that house. I knew it was to be our home based on pictures alone. I frequently hugged the house, I loved it so much. So I focused on just getting the work done, powering through, but then I broke the seal.

Let me take you on a little side journey, Dear Reader. Husband and I used to have two cars, one of which was a Dodge Stratus. It was a little, navy, two-door, rusted, low-riding piece of shit that we acquired after my Chevy Tracker was totaled (notice the very purposeful passive voice here) back in 2010. I resented the Stratus for two reasons: it replaced the car that had been the love of my life up until then, and it was so goddamned low to the ground that me and my broken pelvis could barely get in and out of it. Also, I had zero say in picking it out which was pretty fucking annoying, but that was eight years ago, so maybe I should get the fuck over that.

Anyway, that car took Husband, when he was still just Boyfriend, Bart and Di, and me all the way from Ohio to Florida with all our belongings crammed into it. Despite the ire I held for it, I came to love that car so much that when we donated it because it wasn’t even worth selling in 2016, I cried big, fat tears on multiple occasions. You might be noticing a pattern here, but I actually felt bad for the car. Guilty for abandoning it. Why do I tell you about that car? Because I hung from the rear-view mirror a little sachet for good luck and safe travels (side note: I’m a witch, don’t worry about it), and when we got rid of the car, I removed the sachet with those big, fat tears pouring down my face, and instead hung it around the house’s door handle for the same purpose: to protect us whenever we crossed the threshold.

So as you can imagine, removing the sachet from the handle not only made me sad to leave the house, but brought up all the sad memories of abandoning the car. And now I was abandoning the house. The sink had been right for breaking all along. Blubbering notwithstanding, I tried to just hold it in and move on. I asked Husband to get my wooden turtle wind chime down from the front entryway, but my voice cracked with the question, and all I could do was point and sob. So this wasn’t a great set up for what we has to do next which was the aforementioned cat wrangling.

Rutherford, the baby, was first. I threw a toy into the car carrier and he bounded in after it. The mistake here was choosing a jingly ball as that toy that I would then have to listen to for the next eight hours. Next, we got Bart. Bart is an old soul, and I’m pretty convinced he understands human speak in the way that dogs do: he doesn’t know what you’re saying, but he knows you’re trying to convey something, and he desperately wants to make you happy. I asked him to get in the carrier and though he hesitated, when we made eye contact, and I said “Please?” he could read the exhaustion and brokenness in my soul, and instead of using it against me like his brother would, he relented and climbed inside and laid down because he is forever the goodest boy.

Then came Di. Unlike Rutherford who is evil but stupid, I’m pretty sure Di means well, but unlike Bart who wants to please you, Di is significantly more interested in his own security. Throughout the moving process Rutherford wanted to play and Bart just wanted attention, but Di, the smartest of the bunch, knew the horrors that were to come, and immediately holed himself up under the kitchen sink. After 48 hours of packing, moving, loading, bruising, worrying, complaining, barely eating, and crying, it’s hard to have patience with a dumb beast who doesn’t know what’s best for it. Like, seriously, bud, who’s going to feed you if you stay here alone? Who’s going to snuggle you? Who’s going to give you chicken? The ghost of me will be too busy feeling sorry for herself to do any of those things.

Husband tried first since Di loves him the most. He gently called to him, spoke in a quiet “it’s okay” voice, but to no avail. He looked at me and simply said, “I can’t do it.”

But I had this, mostly because I’m the one small enough to fit under the counter. I slid him out, all 19 of his nails (one is missing, that’s its own story) scraping across the wood, and put my body between him and where he had been. The carrier was waiting for him, and he howled “nooooo” in that horrifying way that only cats do. Once he was in the carrier, after a lot of heaving and reorganizing of limbs, my black leggings were white, and I was picking fur out of my teeth the next day, but I’d be damned if we were going to leave one of these fuckos behind.

I decided to have Di ride beside me in the car since Husband was driving the UHaul, and Bart and Rutherford filled up the backseat. This turned out to be the best decision possible for two reasons: Di does a lot better when he can see you, and when Di inevitably shits himself in the first hour of any car ride, you can easily access the cage to clean it up. Because that’s exactly what he does, Dear Reader. He gets car sick, but from the other end.

So I drove about eight hours in the car with naught but meows and Billy Joel to keep me company. The cats were surprisingly well behaved, especially Bart who answered when I called to him to see if he was still alive, but otherwise just chilled. Rutherford had one attack of the crazies, but when he discovered he couldn’t rip open the cage to run circles around the interior of the car, he gave up, and Di cried on and off while looking balefully up at me to let me know he was blaming this discomfort on me forever which, honestly, that’s nothing new.

And, Dear Reader, we made it. We’re all in our new apartment and we’re all alive. The cats are still very uncomfortable, but most of our things are unpacked and save for a package containing a Costco-sized soy sauce and maple syrup busting in the back of the UHaul (a placement Husband now admits was a terrible idea, obviously brought on by the mania of moving), we made it mostly intact. Here’s to a happy future and great things! Oh, and regularly scheduled blogging.

 

The Big Move Part II: Betrayal

Have you, Dear Reader, ever felt betrayed by an inanimate object?

I often attribute human characteristics to objects. I mentioned how Mari Kondo does this in Letting Go, and I said it’s probably a little nuts to other people, but on some level I think most of us do this. I apologize to or become infuriated with things when I bump into them, dependent on my mood, and that’s probably not that rare. But when an object broke on me while we were moving, I felt betrayal in the very core of my being.

On day two, the “extra” day that I had so optimistically considered a gift from The Universe, things were going well enough. It was Valentine’s Day, I had expected to be driving all day and instead I was boxing things up, but I still felt ahead of the game. My cheeriness only increased with every snag or problem. It would be fine, I insisted, everything was fiiiiine. Getting upset would serve no purpose, so I plastered on some faux confidence, and pushed through.

We were nearing the end of loading, and the sun was setting. We tried to clean out rooms as we went, and I was actually starting to feel genuinely good. I’d faked it til I made it, you could say. As I cleaned our master bathroom after everything had been moved out, I found the sink stopper underneath the counter. I set it on the counter, finished scrubbing down the mirrors, the sink, the faucet, and with a giant smile, popped the stopper into the sink, the pièce de résistance on my beautiful bathroom. The stopper slid all the way down into the hole, sealing it, so I shrugged and pushed on the back of the faucet to pop it back up. Dear Reader, it did not come up.

Then it hit me: the reason we were storing it under the sink to begin with: the stopper mechanism in the pipe was broken. I tried frantically to remove it. It would come out, of course, if I could slide my nails under it. Or perhaps with a pair of tweezers? Or a screwdriver? But in all my prying and pulling and profanity, I’d only managed to lodge it deeper into the drain, rendering the sink in the house I was about to drive away from and hope someone would soon buy so we didn’t have to have carry a mortgage and rent at the same time, absolutely useless. In a last ditch effort to get the stopper out, I slammed the screwdriver into its side, and popped the domed top off the actual stopper, leaving the rest of it just below the sink’s edge, proving that I could, in fact, actually make a hopeless situation even worse.

And so, Dear Reader, I proceeded to have a mental breakdown. Every ounce of frustration and rage I had compressed into my bowels and tried to band-aid over with fraudulent joviality came erupting out of me like a swarm of Africanized honey bees. I threw down the screwdriver, somehow not chipping the tile or shattering the porcelain, and screamed at the sink, “HOW FUCKING DARE YOU?!”

The insinuation/question was completely organic; it was exactly what needed to be said. I felt, in that moment, that somehow the sink, the stopper, the entire goddamned house, had conspired against me so that I would not be able to leave it–and that’s completely insane–but it’s where my brain went.

From there, it was a snowball of epic proportions. We skipped having any kind of dinner, and continued to pack and clean while going back and forth on how to resolve the Sink Horror 2018. We made a trip to Home Depot for some possible tools which I quickly learned upon return to the house that they didn’t and couldn’t work and now I just had MORE SHIT to pack. I stifled tears even as I scrubbed the kitchen into gloriousness. I could tell it looked good, beautiful in fact, but I felt defeated.

The rock inside the snowball manifested when I was emptying out the last remnants of the garage and found a box of paperwork that I had been meaning to shred. I’d had this box for literal years, carried over in our last move from one house to another, I’d seen the fucking thing every damn day while maneuvering around it to get in the car for work. I’d said to myself every time I saw it that I should just load it up and take it to Staples, a literal half mile from my work, and have it shredded, but did I do it? No. Instead I pretended it was an inevitable but minor obstacle to always be in my life, and now there it was being exactly that, and there I was, paying the penance for my past laziness kneeling on the unswept garage floor. I tried to reorganize the papers because the box had been moved and gotten wet at some point, so it was falling apart, and as I repacked this box of paperwork from decades earlier (literally, it had documents from the 90s in it) I devolved into full on weeping. Another goddamned thing had to go into the truck that everything else barely fit into already, and I had to pack it, tape it, and we had to take it with us, I cried, and I couldn’t fucking believe it.

But, Dear Reader, all was not lost, because I have Husband. The yang to my yin, the cheese to my macaroni, the sane to my cray-cray. He got a neighbor to fix the sink, expertly navigated cleaning and boxing what I skipped, and when he found me crying in the garage, he made everything better.

We ended the night by eating the remnants of a few different meals in bed (the bed was to be packed last the following morning) and passing out. I fell asleep without the optimism of the prior night, but without dread either, just a yearning for everything to be over. It almost was.

The Big Move Part I: Optimism

If there is only one universal truth to life, it is surely this: You are never really prepared to move.

You can have a plan laid out, you can do as much ahead of time as possible, you can watch all the tips and tricks videos that exist, but you will never truly be prepared for the physical, mental, and emotional shitfest you are about to embark upon when you decide to uproot your entire life and trek it across the country.

That isn’t to say it’s all bad, but let’s be honest: you are not here for the warm fuzzies.

So Husband got an awesome new job in a new city in a new state. We’d lived in and around Tampa, Florida for almost seven years, the majority of our relationship, but in four different homes: two apartments and two houses. Including our time in Ohio, we’ve moved together a total of five times with increasingly more things. We accumulated plenty of stuff, and I did my best to purge it (see: Letting Go), but it’s never enough. You know those weirdos who can fit their whole lives into a single duffel bag? They have life figured out. The couple weeks leading up to the move, we threw away and boxed up so much shit. We made four trips to Goodwill with our Jeep Renegade FULL of things to donate, we filled our giant trash bins to the brim at least four times, and I pawned off and recycled what I could, so when I looked through the house the night before we got the moving truck, I was incredibly self assured. I mean, I was fucking pumped. No part of me dreaded the upcoming process, I was all smiles and checklists and positive affirmations.

And then we started.

The plan was to pick up the truck Tuesday morning (I had worked on Monday, mind you, my last day, and had been slowly packing the week prior), and we would take a load of large items to the dump, return home, load the truck, clean the house, sleep for a few hours, then get up at about 4:00am on Wednesday and go. That didn’t happen.

I did my best to stay peppy and upbeat, and even if everything had gone perfectly, the physical act of moving is exhausting. We did get the truck on Tuesday morning, and we did take large items, including our couch, love seat, and recliner, to the dump (I tried very hard to give these things away, but no one wants baby-barf brown, cat-shredded furniture nowadays: beggars really can be choosers, Val). On the way back from the landfill where, I have to say, I had a great time throwing a metal filing cabinet on top of a mirror and absolutely shattering it, I looked at the clock and chirped that we were making great time, it was almost noon, and we could go grab some of Husband’s favorite Thai place for lunch. Little did I know, he had already turned pessimistic (see: realistic), questioning if we had time to stop for lunch or even if we’d get done that day. Of course! I declared through a pearly white smile, we’d be done in no time! All we had to do was fill up the truck and sweep up the floors. THAT’S IT.

That was incorrect. As we Tetris’d our belongings into the moving truck, it became apparent there was much more to do. I uncovered what felt like whole rooms of things that still needed to be boxed up, including almost all of our breakables. I held off on buying packing supplies specifically for dishes and stemware for gods know what reason, and I ended up stuck using napkins and extra blankets to buoy the most fragile things we owned. (Spoiler alert: NOTHING FRAGILE ENDED UP BREAKING SO YOU CAN FUCK RIGHT OFF, UHAUL, WITH YOUR $20 DISH KIT!)

When evening came I was beginning to crack ever so slightly. I could feel a hot rage boiling beneath the surface, pricking at my skin, begging to be released, the sight of cardboard boxes and tufts of cat hair long hidden under furniture inciting a primordial ire in want of release. But Husband quelled it without even knowing it: “I have a proposition,” he said.

We just don’t move and stay here, jobless and miserable until we die and the cats devour our corpses sans remorse? I asked, but only in my head.

“Why don’t we just leave on Thursday instead?”

“I love you.”

It was the perfect Valentine’s Day present, and it didn’t even feel like defeat, just like an admission that our goals were too lofty. And too-lofty goals aren’t the worst thing. It felt much like being ahead of the game, like “O, wow, I have just been handed an extra day to do with whatever I want!” And I went to bed that night very happy, lulling myself into another false sense of security. I did not learn, Dear Reader, and that was my first mistake.

Letting Go

Saying goodbye to Tampa, to work, to my friends, these things will be hard. But saying goodbye to my stuff? Dear Reader, there is little else in the world I love as much as throwing shit away.

Hands down, the best part of moving is the opportunity one gets to purge. I don’t even think Husband and I acquire that much stuff in general, and yet there is always something that can just get the fuck out of my house. I have been donating stuff left and right–clothes, books, small kitchen appliances–and I keep finding more!

The last time we moved, from three bedrooms to two no less, I didn’t get this exact opportunity, so I am going hog wild (except kinda the opposite of a hog). I am sort of utilizing Marie Kondo’s KonMari method, but to be honest I haven’t read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I’ve just read articles and watched some YouTubers try it. Sidenote: If you ever need to clean, but you don’t want to, watch a YouTuber organize something. Motivation will come swiftly. (Brittany is my favorite.)

My favorite part of what I understand of the KonMari method, and probably the most popular part, is the concept that the things you keep should “spark joy.” You hold everything in your hands and you assess the feelings that thing stirs in you. If you truly feel joy, you keep that thing. If not, bye bitch!

Too often we keep things because we think we should, but we don’t utilize them properly or at all, and they end up causing us anxiety and taking up space that could be better filled by something we love or maybe nothing at all–empty space itself deserves more credit, I think. Imagine looking into your closet and thinking “I love everything in here!” That’s #fuckinggoals or whatever the kids say.

In order to do this, though, you have to be able to say goodbye to things. And in the case of KonMari, that might literally mean saying “goodbye.” Kondo suggests speaking directly to items and thanking them for their service to you in order to let go. Does this seem crazy? Yes. Does it work? YES. I guess Kondo considers stuff to be alive? I would be lying is I said I didn’t feel bad when I knock down a teddy bear, but that’s because it has a face. And yet, when I think about my stuff, especially the stuff I really treasure, I guess I kind of do assign human characteristics to it. Those things that have impacted my life carry their own stories and trigger specific emotions, and really isn’t that all any of us do anyway? We’re just walking, talking stories, after all.

There are a number of things I’ve read about being in the book that I am sure I disagree with (I will wear baggy sweats to bed or out on the town, I do not give two shits, and she can’t convince me I need to wear something “elegant” to bed because I know I’m going to sweat overnight and be a “hotmess” in the morning either way), but I do think Kondo’s heart is in the right place. She wants you to value your things so you can value yourself. Sometimes it’s really tough to love yourself, so you have to start somewhere else, somewhere easier. And it’s really easy to love a shirt.

I’m decluttering to make moving easier, of course, but ultimately I want to shift out all the bullshit in my house because I want to cultivate an environment in which I can thrive. I want to be creative, but I can’t do that around clutter. Messiness makes me anxious, and having access to the things I need lets me jump headfirst into tasks. Kondo promises right in the title that tidying up will change your life. Our big move, surely, will be life-changing, but clearing out all the nonsense will be a nice boost too.

The Journey

So, I failed. I didn’t get my latest Vacancy post out on Monday, which is a huge personal bummer, but at least I have a good excuse: WE’RE MOVING!

The last week has been a whirlwind. Husband has accepted a job in a new state, we’re resigning from our current jobs, working with a realtor to sell our house, securing an apartment in our future home city, boxing up everything we own, donating what we don’t want, getting some much-needed landscaping done, and trying to do it all in under three weeks so he can start ASAP. (Also there will be cat wrangling. Lord, give me the strength.)

While I did write Vacancy during NaNo, every part needs a handful of edits and some holes filled in before posting (and really it needs much more than that, but to be fair it’s free reading for anyone on the internet so grammatical and continuity errors will exist, and overall it’s not going to be my best and brightest work). I didn’t get to those edits last week, so I didn’t have a post this week. It sucks, it feels like a massive failure, and I’m sad, but it’s a reminder that while I’ve been pretty stoked with how I’ve been planning out and getting writing done in general, I’m far from mastering the planning process. Thankfully I did not see through a post idea for how to make a plan for your blog or novel last week L O FUCKING L.

So I’m planning to get Vacancy out next Monday and fingers crossed I can swing it even with setting up and shutting off utilities and boxing up my life (including the lovely nest I just showed you all) and being overwrought with anxiety about nothing in particular and everything all at once.

But really I’m quite excited for our familial journey. When Husband and I met, I moved in with him right away. We moved from that apartment to a second apartment in Columbus, OH, then we moved above someone’s garage in St Petersburg, FL on a whim with everything we owned including two cats packed into a two door Dodge Stratus, then we moved to an apartment in Tampa, then our first house, then our second house, and we’ve been quite comfy for quite awhile, so it’s probably time for the next great adventure. To be honest, I think we’ve both been getting a little antsy.

So here’s to the adventure, eh? I’m sure loads of fucky things will happen, and congrats because you have a front row seat.

Also, you won’t find out how they get the chandelier back up in Moonlit Shores Manor, but that’s because Lorelei doesn’t see it, and it’s magic anyway, not because I won’t be posting.

I Moved In

My Husband and I met on the internet as many an internet-people do. We went on two dates before I began spending long weekends at his tiny apartment. We were meant to be, you might say. However, the state of that tiny apartment when we met wasn’t saying that. Let me describe it to you.

He slept on what we affectionately came to call the “crack mattress.” I wasn’t particularly well-off for at least half of my childhood, or at least I thought, but I was clearly doing just fine as I’d never known anyone to not have a box spring and a frame under their mattress. Husband had neither. Nor did he have proper sheets. But he did have a down comforter that he never washed until I came along (and subsequently ruined long before I finally convinced him to throw the smelly thing out–who knew you couldn’t launder goose feathers? Also, who, in the modern day, requires an animal be murdered and plucked clean in order to sleep?)

All his shit was strewn around his bedroom. Even the drawers that should have contained the shit that was strewn around were strewn around. He had one real piece of furniture–a scuffed up chest of five drawers–and not a single drawer was in place. It stood, hollowly looking out over its own innards as they recklessly lay about 80% of the bedroom making it basically impossible to cross the room from the crack mattress at its entrance to the closet at its back. But honestly, I found it reassuring that one could not easily cross from bed to closet as that was its own nightmare.

To be fair, the closet wasn’t Husband’s fault. At least, not the architecture. That closet would have existed in its utterly terrifying state regardless of who inhabited the apartment. He certainly didn’t make it better, but it was hard to make it worse (he persevered). Typically we think of closets as shallow rectangles or boxes. This was, instead, a long rectangle that ran insidiously down along the wall with an entryway (the door had long been removed) at one end and a single lightbulb hanging just inside. So you’d step into a small, acceptable, almost normal space, but then if you glanced to the right, the horror of the void would stare back at you. For some reason, the closet was a very narrow, very dark hallway to nowhere. Except maybe Hell.

Husband kept garbage bags full of clothing, mostly and inexplicably Hawaiian shirts, back there. The bags were tied off. I don’t know if they were clean or dirty when they went in. There were all washed when they finally came out.

Additional furniture came in the form of a massive, leather beanbag, an entertainment center that he referred to as a “family heirloom” because his family severely misuses the word, and that is literally all I can remember. The apartment itself wouldn’t have held much more than that anyway. We would acquire a futon months later after the beanbag was unceremoniously used as a litter box.

He knew how to cook one thing, and not well, and had a special appliance (his only appliance save for a microwave that hummed at exactly an F#) just for making it. I was very afraid of eating raw bacon when he eagerly made me a bacon and egg sandwich in this appliance, his coveted sandwich maker, but I did–FOR LOVE. I didn’t do it without complaint, though, and he sites this experience as why he cannot possibly learn to cook now as I permanently ruined his fragile ego.

His bathroom had been cleaned exactly one time, in the interim between the previous apartment’s tenant and himself. It’s important to note that the fixtures were ancient and at one point in our relationship while [redacted] in the shower together, he leaned against the back wall and four of the tiles just crumbled in on one another. The landlord’s fix for this was exactly as you’d imagine.

The apartment itself was next door to the complex’s laundry unit which was kind of convenient if not particularly quiet. It was also a “garden” apartment which is just a fancy way of saying “mostly basement” which meant the only windows were at almost-ceiling height. One evening during a rainstorm when we were watching a pirated movie on Husband’s laptop, our two cats started meowing intensely in the bedroom, we went the two steps into the room to find water somehow gushing in from around the closed window all over the carpeted bedroom and our belongings. By the time it stopped, the carpet was a mushy mess and everything we could salvage was stacked up in the living room/kitchen space.

But this is the place I decided to move into to be with Husband. We lived there for about six months before moving to an only slightly less shitty and slightly more expensive apartment. That place had bedbugs. Still slightly less shitty.