Every house has issues. But once you move a few times, its easy to see that some houses have more than others. I am lucky. My family has lived in one home for three generations now. It is small, a 3 br/1 ba built in the 1950’s, heated by wood stove, had too many people in it at times, wasn’t always spotless but was always comfortable and always will be home. Even its problems had charm, but not all places that I’ve lived in retained that quality over time.
The first placed I lived outside of my parents house was with my sister and her family – yet another mid century, 3 br/1 ba place that was a little too small, built out of concrete block, and could’ve survived a nuke. It had these cool built ins in the living room, coal heat, and no dishwasher. I loved that house. It was the first place I had ever lived with a shower. That first few weeks of realizing that bathing didn’t have to be this whole time consuming ordeal was amazing.
Then the parade of shitty apartments started. I split an off-campus apartment with the world’s draftiest windows for a year. We furnished it out of the dumpster mostly, with a few wise investments from the local thrift store. It constantly stank of bear chili and weed from the guys that lived next door. I hated that apartment – it was expensive, shitty in the way that only off-campus apartments can be, and only reminded me how far from home I was.
After that, I met a boy and we decided to move in together. In a single apartment with an efficiency kitchen, in an old hotel next to the train tracks. Theoretically, it had been renovated, but I’m not sure moving a fridge in counts. We slept on a twin bed, may or may not have had cable of questionable origins, and basically lived on top of each other for a year. By the end, we were ready to kill each other. It was time.
So we moved. In to another one bathroom, mid-century house. It was cold in the winter, the landlord wouldn’t repair things, we had no washer and dryer, and the yard was absolutely trashed. In other words, it was perfect. I loved it. My first full size kitchen as an adult. No sharing walls. Could be in separate rooms. New furniture, even if it was Walmart furniture. The futon was uncomfortable, the TV was 200 lbs of tube goodness, and giving that house up in the break up was awful.
The next place was a home in the suburbs, split with my cousins. It was a nice place, but the one after that was a shit show.
The scary apartment was downtown in a small town turned suburb. It was a top apartment in a fourplex of 2 br/1 ba apartments. Decent kitchen. Decent size. Good shade and windows. Rough neighborhood. Cheap rent. I moved in during a Labor Day rainstorm with a hand me down wool couch. The apartment stank like wet saddle blanket for a week. Across the hall was a single mom with four kids under the age of 8. Downstairs was a guy who either left before his alarm went off every day, or slept like the dead, because that fucker started going off at 8:30 every morning and did not stop until hours later. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
The other apartment was another single mom and her teenage son. At first I thought they were the nicest neighbors. The son drove a classic Chevy pickup that apparently had to be warmed up before football/wrestling practice every morning at 5:15 am. This went on for a half an hour, with him defrosting the windows and revving the engine. There apparently weren’t mufflers on it. It was loud as fuck, early as fuck, and I hated his very existence by the third week in October. The couple in the house across the street liked to get drunk and scream at each other in the street at four AM on the weekends, throwing beer bottles and waking up everyone on the block. The fourplex across the alley had a guy that dealt drugs off the deck, so there were shady people coming and going all the time. I barely came home, and when I did I locked the door and didn’t interact. It was loud, stinky, scary, and I was very relieved to move from there into a very nice house in a quiet neighborhood with a really good friend.
Eventually we had to split up that household and move out on our own. I acquired an apartment in a gated community close to my job, and thought it was going to be amazing. It had a fireplace, and a deck with a beautiful sunset view. But I soon realized, that people are morons and this complex was going to be another shit show. Constant car alarms. One of the buildings caught on fire once, from someone falling asleep with a cigarette. There were constantly tow trucks in and out to repo cars and tow them for bad parking. There were a million rules and it was all around a pain in the ass. Then my future husband moved in and all of a sudden it was too small as well.
We moved into a house. Got a dog. Another 3 br/1ba mid century home. Sensing a pattern?
This one finally broke me of these old houses. It was wall to wall carpet, except the dining room linoleum. Kitchen? Carpet. Pantry floor? Carpet. Bathroom? Carpet. Keeping this house clean was impossible. I shampooed the floors once a month, and still, at the end, I ended up spending an entire day with a professional carpet cleaning machine, pulling what was probably 30 years of animal and kid mess out of this damn floor. Not one corner was square in the whole place. Things would roll out of the fridge if not placed correctly. All food ended up down in one side of the pan and wouldn’t cook evenly. The rooms were tiny, and cut off from each other. I loved the aesthetic, but HATED the actual day to day of living there, and the fact that it was expensive as well was just insult to injury.
After that, we were more picky and got into slightly nicer places, but I won’t forget any of those apartments and mid century houses that I never was quite able to make into a home. Each day when I walk into the house my husband and I were luckily able to purchase this year, I think about how great it is to think about not having to live in a shitty, scary apartment or another rental house of doom again.