August 1999 – August 2002
My first real apartment! It is also worth noting that the three years I spent here were the longest I’ve spent at a single address since my family moved out of the house on Pepper Drive.
I moved into the apartment on 12th Street in the fall of my junior year at RC, but I’d been a regular visitor for nearly a year at that point. The apartment was occupied by a rotating cast of coworkers from Barnes & Noble, so I have no idea who first lived there, or whose name was on the original lease, if there even was one. The circumstances – or, rather, the conversation – surrounding my first visit are subject to some debate, but the facts are these: I helped Eva do a bathtub full of dishes. She was living with Stu and Jessica at that point, Jeff and Steven having both moved out. I remember late nights in the apartment after closing, hanging out with my impossibly cool coworkers and hoping they’d like me as much as I liked them. In the spring, Stu and Jessica moved out, and Erin – another coworker – moved in. If we weren’t working, the three of us would order pizza (cheese and pineapple) and watch Must See TV. When I needed a place and there was an open room, it made sense for me to move in – and my boyfriend along with me.
Looking back, I can’t believe how insanely cheap the place was – we paid something like $450 for a three bedroom apartment, split four ways. Even split three and eventually two ways, this was worlds cheaper than any place where I’d lived before or since. We kept it up to exactly the degree of squalor that you’d expect from 3-4 early 20-somethings. Eva and Erin had a continual battle of wills over the dishes, and I wasn’t much better. At one point shortly before I moved in, they boxed up all of the dishes and stuck them in the attic, where I found them sometime later, still crusted in food, though miraculously not disgusting. We hosted Thanksgiving dinner for our friends, but had to farm out most of the cooking because we had one oven rack and zero counter space. We also had maybe three chairs, so everyone had to sit on the floor. We wanted to learn about wine, but did so with 2 bottles for $6 deals. We hosted a lot of parties. It was a very fun time.
Erin had the first room – large and sunny, with hardwood floors and giant windows. My boyfriend and I moved to this room when she moved out before Christmas. I had the second room, which had accordion doors and a walk-in closet, and which we later used as an office. Eva had the back room – tiny and painted in two different blues. When she moved out in the summer of the following year, we used the room for storage and for our cats!
I had never had a cat before, and I wasn’t the best cat owner, but good lord, did I love those furballs. We had hideous hand-me-down furniture, made worse by destructive cats and lots of parties. Our kitchen was big enough to dance in, and the bathroom had a claw-foot tub where I would often read entire books.
Our landlord was a 30-something guy who would come over to do maintenance – and would stay to drink beer and hang out with us. Our downstairs neighbor was an obsessive snow shoveler and griller, the two of which came together when he would clear a pathway to his charcoal grill at every snowfall. Our next-door neighbor fed squirrels and may or may not have been in a ladder cult.
Oh, the stories this apartment could tell. We stayed for the duration of my time at RC, and another year beyond that. On 9/11, I watched movies on that hideous couch in order to avoid the non-stop coverage of the towers going down. In this apartment, I started to learn how to cook, gave up my vegetarianism, and fell deeply and somewhat disastrously in love. I discovered yoga and Hello Kitty Cube Frenzy. I did a lot of things I regret, and many more than I don’t. It was in most ways an ideal college apartment, and I was very sad when we moved out, even though we weren’t going far – next door – and would visit often, as my sister and her best friend were the new tenants.