Friday, April 25, 2008

My First Apartment - Part II: Starvation

My mother, bless her heart, really could have boned me after I moved out, but she chose the kinder road. Not only did she let me keep The Ruster, she maintained the insurance. Without transportation I would've been dead in the water right at the start. On top of that, she gave me her long-since-retired kitchen table and two chairs (I just retired it a year ago) and a few cooking implements. Angry as she was with me for leaving, she still couldn't let me sink like a rock. That's a mom's love.

So, thanks to Mom, I had a kitchen table and chairs. Later, her boss (who was also my boss after high school) donated a rather nice recliner to the cause as well. I had no bedroom furniture, not even a bed. I spent a week or so sleeping on the floor before I reluctantly dragged my aching 23-year-old back to the mall, opened a Sears account, and charged a bed.

Despite all that, I was broke the minute I moved in. I used every ounce of savings I had for the security deposit, first month's rent, basic foodstuffs, and things like bath towels and a few kitchen gadgets (can opener a must!). DEB, my yet-to-be mother-in-law, blessed me with a shiny-new set of nonstick cookware and a glass stovetop coffee percolater (that I never mastered), and she fed me dinners at their house on a weekly basis.

Within a matter of weeks, my coworker noticed my "ehh" lunches and started supplementing my diet with home-baked goodies, lucky me. Her "Blewish" (Jewish blueberry) cake was probably one of the best things I ever ate. In return, I had a small role in introducing her daughter to The Oracle's best friend, and they married a year after we did.

I'd been moved out for all of a week when I went shopping for Mom's Mother's Day gift. I was in a funky little novelty shop giggling over an artificial rubber plant made out of condoms and wondering if I could get away with such a thing on my desk when someone picked my wallet out of my purse (ironically the same purse I bought for Jenny's last birthday; how depressing is that?). There went Mom's gift and my grocery money. That's what I get for shopping in that neighborhood. The lucky part is that my ID and my maxed-out credit cards were in a separate folder.

Not only was I starving financially, I was starved for affection. One thing I quickly learned was that I did not like living totally alone. I don't mind being away from other people (shoot, I relish the rarest moments of solitude now), but I hated not having a pet of any kind. When I was a kid, we always had a number of critters, so being petless was foreign to me. It was totally depressing. Working all day and coming home to an echoey, empty apartment without so much as a fish in a bowl to greet me kind of -- no -- thoroughly sucked. Sure, I had the neighbors downstairs, but it wasn't the same. I really missed my German Shedder.

I am not equating him with a dog by any means, but my weekends with The Oracle were precious and wonderful. He often stayed over Friday and/or Saturday nights. Mom would've choked if she knew that. I know most mothers suspect that their kids are fooling around and keep a don't-ask-don't-tell frame of mind, but my mother was in emphatic, delusional denial when it came to the possibility that her youngest child might no longer be... umm... pure.

How she learned otherwise is best left for another day.

Anyway, our behavior was not as rabbit-like as you might assume. I remember many mornings spent in tenacious tickle battles or wrestling matches. One Friday night after playing basketball with his friends, The Oracle arrived at my apartment, laboriously thumping up the stairs with a swollen, blown-out ankle. We spent that night and the next hanging out and keeping his foot up. Another Saturday we spent over an hour in a heated water-gun fight.

Well, one thing I quickly learned was that my downstairs neighbors loved bacon and marijuana on the weekends, not necessarily in combination. Depending on the time of day, you could easily detect their pot or cooking aromas drifting upward through the vents and the unsealed cracks around the sheet of plywood at the bottom of the stairs which loosely separated our apartments. Still, as neighbors go, they were very nice.

The really embarrassing part is not realizing (until we talked about it as I moved out) that if we could smell their pot and bacon, they could hear everything going on upstairs. I can only imagine what all that screaming and laughter must've sounded like.

In November, The Oracle proposed. God bless him, he actually went to my mother and asked permission to marry me. Her refusal wouldn't have stopped us, but he extended the courtesy of asking just the same. When I came home wearing the ring, my mother's first words on the matter were, "move home and save your money."

By January, economics forced me into taking a higher-paying job as a 9-1-1 operator. That job involved shift work and weekends. My credit was starting to bomb, and I secretly knew my mom had the right idea. The Oracle and I had already set a date for July. I broke my lease and moved out on Valentine's Day, figuring we could survive five months of Mom's ill will toward The Oracle. Funny, but I don't remember exactly how I got my bigger stuff into the storage unit. We might've borrowed someone's truck. I do remember, though, stuffing the last of my belongings into the Ruster with barely enough room for me to drive, and reluctantly leaving the recliner from my old boss behind. It was dated, it was a weird shade of butterscotch, but I really liked that chair, and I hated leaving it for the landlord.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stacy Says:
I had a much better first apartment experience. I bought and borrowed and found furnture before I moved out. I knew eventually I would be on my own and wanted to be ready. I was allowed to take my bed and both parents bought me stuff for the house. My dad gave me lots of canned goods and roman noodles so I didn't starve. I hate roman noodles, but the thought was there. Eventually I'd have guest that would eat them, so it worked out.
Love you!