I’ve been thinking about writing a series of stories based on all the apartments I lived in during my twenties. From 2001 to 2005 I lived in six different apartments, in two buildings that were on the same block. For the most part they were all dumps and each had its own set of miseries, both related to the physical apartment and to my own personal life. I thought it would be a fun project and give me a reason to write. So here I go.
In fall of 2003, my ex-boyfriend decided he didn’t want to live together anymore. Let’s call him Fuckhead, or FH for short. He didn’t want to break up, but he did want to get his own place. At the time I was crushed. His decision coincided with a good friend’s wedding. Here she was getting married and potentially living happily ever after and here I was, with a guy who couldn’t stand to live with me anymore. At the wedding reception I got blackout drunk, passed out in my tent, woke up, took ecstasy, and then proceeded to tell FH that it was totally cool with me. I remember repeating it over and over in a daze “Sure, I get it, you need your space.” But the truth was, I was wrecked over it. I felt like absolute shit.
To save myself money and time, I decided to move into another apartment building that my landlord managed. She was in charge of two buildings, just around the block from each other. I had already lived in two shitty apartments so I figured why not a third. Plus, it was a different building, so there was a chance it would be slightly better. She had a studio available and the price was right.
When I first checked it out there was a flea infestation. Apparently a very timid Asian girl had lived there. She had quietly become addicted to hard drugs, acquired a cat, and then proceeded to live with it in filth. After about five minutes of looking at the place my shins and calves were covered in flea bites. Naturally I marched back to my old building and told my landlord “I’ll take it!” Two flea bombs left the apartment so toxic, another flea never dared enter. Once I moved in they had all cleared up and all that was left was a lingering, yet mild, smell of poison.
An old man had also died in the apartment maybe two years before. He had no real friends or family and it was only when the neighbors noticed an awful smell and flies swarming around his door that they decided to check in on him. It had been a number of days since he’d died and the weather had been warm. His corpse had rotted the bathroom floor completely and it had to be redone. The new tiles were nice but they were overshadowed by the fact that the bath had no shower. It just had a hose that my landlord had attached to the spout and had the nerve to encourage me to use. The sad thing is, I actually did. Rather than just take baths every day, I would squat in my tiny, cold tub and hose myself off. This went on for a few months before I finally got tired of feeling like a hostage in a third world country. I asked FH to install a shower curtain rod so that at least I could stand up and hose myself off.
This apartment, all quirks and ghosts aside, was the tiniest studio I had ever lived in. I covered the windows with black sheets which shrunk it further. My clothes, records, books all piled up around me. It had a real distinct lack of decor. It was depressing. This was before I started buying things like shelves and rugs and curtains. It just hadn’t ever occurred to me to decorate any of these shitholes. I remember when I did finally buy a rug from Urban Outfitters it felt like a really big deal. Not as big of a deal as that life changing shower curtain, but still. It felt like a grown up thing to own.
When I lived in this studio life was basically taking the same turn as my living arrangements had. Everything was getting smaller and closing in on me. FH didn’t love me enough to live with me anymore. There were many nights there that he ditched me to go smoke crack or whatever horrible useless activity was better than being with me. When I wasn’t at work I mostly sat in that room and chain smoked and drank vodka. It was my vanilla vodka period. I always had a giant bottle of it in my freezer and I would dump a ton of it into a big glass with orange juice. Tasted just like a creamsicle.
After a few months of living in my hole, I went out drinking with some work friends one night. As I have been known to do, I got way drunker than everyone I was with and somehow found my way back to my street. I ran into a neighbor from my old building and he invited me up to his place. I remember he asked me if I wanted to sober up. By this he meant, did I want to smoke some meth with him so I wouldn’t be so drunk anymore. And I did. I stayed up all night in his apartment with him and his girlfriend. I think we even walked across the lake to get cigarettes at 7-11. We also spent some time on the roof. Chatting the night away. By early morning I couldn’t smoke anymore. My head felt like a balloon. I walked around the block back to my apartment. I hadn’t done drugs like that in a few years. I didn’t know what to do. I called in sick and then sat on my bed, smoking, journaling, and watching TV. I basically did that all day long. I don’t think I slept until late that night. I told myself that it wouldn’t happen again. But I had a feeling that wouldn’t be the case.
I lived in that studio for one year. It was basically the worst year of my young adult life. I had definitely seen some bad times before that. But living in that tiny, darkened room, drinking heavily, and smoking meth regularly was what you might call a low point. However, I have to point out that through all that, I didn’t break up with FH. Nope, I trudged along. In fact, at the time I probably thought the drugs would bring us closer. We finally had something in common. We were a regular Sid and Nancy, but you know, without money and fame. And he didn’t murder me.
Now that I’ve written about it I wonder if that studio didn’t have some kind of bad juju hanging out in it. People dying. People getting addicted to drugs. Maybe there was some unseen evil force at work. Or maybe it was just a cheap, crappy apartment that losers like me, the Asian girl, and the old man could afford. We could hide very quietly inside where no one would try to find us or offer us help. We could even die and no one would notice.
Next time I will write a happy tale of a maggot infestation. Yay for apartment life!
But seriously folks, is this stuff terrible? Too depressing and gross? Tell me what you really think, even if you think I should stop writing.