Friday, September 7, 2012

Flashback Friday: our first place

Have you ever had those days, nights or moments when you just need to have a good cry?
That's been me. A lot, lately.

I think it's self inflicted, like when my childhood cat died after being with me for ten years and I sat looking through pictures until I was sobbing uncontrollably.
That was one of Dusty's first experiences of me crying. Thanks for sticking with me, babe.

This last week, I cried when Dusty got me coffee one day. I cried watching How I Met Your Mother. I cried at work, at home, in the car....and then I cried when I started looking through old pictures. Like I said, self inflicted.
I think sometimes I get so reminiscent that I just need a good cry. I think Fall brings out the cry in me.
This Fall is particularly hard, because it's the first time we've gone from law school, to summer, and back to law school. The transition has been rough, and I've been homesick for my family and friends in the west. Dusty and I have both been in sort of a funk, coming out of such a great summer. It's been hard to get back to the hard-work stuff.
While I am extremely excited for this year, I need my moment to reminiscent. And maybe cry a little. To remember a  most wondrous time.
This post is going to take us back for a second.

To Dusty and I's first apartment together as a married couple.

December, 2010

The semester was almost over. It was senior year, and we were getting ready to take our finals and head home for the holidays.
But this time, it was different. This time, we'd be getting married. 
When we got back to school for our last semester of college, Dusty and I would be a married couple. We had managed to be an exception to the rule, snatching up an unofficially "married housing" apartment, despite the fact that they had gotten rid of married housing several years prior.

The truth is, Royal Rose was a retirement home.

It was situated in a quaint little corner of campus. It was a part of "Rose Garden", which was a series of student apartments amongst a few more elderly apartments, and lots of cute trails with rose bushes. 
I don't know all of the details, but the school had bought Royal Rose years before, and had offered the residents moving money if they desired. Some took it and relocated, others decided to stay. The extra rooms were given to grad students (and one hall of the first floor was entirely freshmen guys, since there wasn't enough room in the dorms) and other oddballs like us, who went and talked to the right people and begged for a room. It helped that we both had jobs on campus, and had legitimate reasons for needing to stay. 

The rest belonged to the elderly Korean community.

It was going to be a really crazy few weeks.
My best friend and roommate, Lauren, was graduating early and going to be moving to Connecticut to be a fancy nanny for a wealthy family in Greenwich. We had spent the entire first semester in roomie bliss, sharing a room with our friend Alexa and hating our other roommates and watching movies and staying up late and going shopping and realizing that our lives as we knew it were coming to an end.

 It was the best of times.

Those last few days at school before Christmas break, Dusty and I began to frantically move our stuff from our current apartment to our new one in Royal Rose.
I documented everything. I'm pretty glad I did, now.
The tour:

Every closet/cupboard area had those awful sliding closet doors that get stuck every time you try to move them. You can see the railing where they used to be attached in this next picture; we took them off for an open pantry!

We had plenty of help from our friends.
Jon and Lauren helped us get started, taking the many loads from one apartment to the next. Little bit by little bit.
I distinctly remember trying to ride my bike balancing a bunch of bags and a framed poster.
I fell, crushing the picture and totally hurting myself. I'm really glad no one was there to see that.
After making many more successful trips, we brought some sparkling cider to celebrate!

Looking into the living room from the kitchen.
Visa versa.
The bedroom was small, with more awful closet sliding doors.
We took those off, too. :)
It was quite the challenge, as they're as tall as the ceiling and very difficult to maneuver. Many a popcorn-ceiling-kernel came falling from the sky.

His side.
Her side.

Then came the bathroom.
We never had to be afraid of falling, or of not having a nifty grip when we needed help lifting ourselves off of the comode.

Honestly, this was the best part for us.
Being 22 and living in an apartment equipped for the elderly.

Who else can say they've had a "Pull for Help" string in every room?

This is one of the best memories.
We ordered pizza, had our sparkling cider, and Lauren even gave me a mini Christmas tree and a few of her other things that she couldn't take with her when she moved. It was already becoming our little place.

Me, with the crushed picture behind me and our first holiday decorations.

We also had help from our friends Britany and Bryce, who were able to come over later and see the place and help us move in. :)

"The halls smell like Ramen and our neighbors don't speak English 
but we're really excited and look at our new door!"

We had no idea what the next few months would hold, but these guys would be a big part of it.
We knew we were gonna make this place work, and that it would be an adventure, but if we had known what a wonderful last semester it was going to be...we probably would have given that marijuana-smoking dude a few doors down a big ol' hug.

We had a few last things to do, like our last Christmas concert in choir, and all of our finals...but we were ready to go get married. :)

Spring Semester, 2011.
January - May.

When we got back from our amazing wedding,

we had our work cut out for us.
We worked diligently at making the apartment work for all of our stuff, and making it a cozy place to live.
Slowly but surely, it became the place where we all gathered to hang out.
Unlike the other apartments on campus, there wasn't a curfew or "no guys allowed after --- o'clock"! 
We were outside the law. 

Our first dinner party was one of the most exciting things for me. I made beef lettuce wraps, P.F. Chang's style. With the new Chinese cookbook I got for our wedding.

Britany, Brenton and Dusty.

Both Dusty and I worked for Provider, the food service company on campus.
I worked super early mornings (6:30am), first in the campus coffee shop and then in the cafeteria bakery. Dusty usually worked the later shifts, sometimes until 11pm.
He eventually became a supervisor. He was great at his job and they loved him!
He started working at Brisco's, the second cafeteria area that was actually right next door to us, in Rose Garden.
On the nights he worked late, Britany would come over. We'd go to Brisco's to say hi to Dusty, grab some snacks and a smoothie, and go watch movies.
I would love to go back and do that one more time. Or maybe like, 10 or 20 more times.

I have such fond memories of that place.
The movie nights, the dinners, the parties with friends and the late game nights.
I also remember almost dying in that apartment, being so ridiculously sick after we came back from Ireland that I was bed-ridden for a week. It was a magical time.

Here are the facts:
The hallways always smelled like Ramen and fish. Sweet and wrinkled old Korean folks would stare at us as we walked by. A guy a few doors down really did smoke pot quite often. We had no dishwasher. Our oven was really small. We slept on a mattress on the floor. We had no dining room, or anywhere to eat. We had to go downstairs to the first floor to do all our laundry, in a small little laundry room that only had 4 washers and 4 dryers. We had to pay in quarters. There was no central air or central heat, just two wall units, and one didn't work. There was a giant heater in the bathroom ceiling. Which we actually loved. We had this absurd doorbell that sounded like "blick-boooong!" whenever you pressed it.

But also,
I love Ramen. I always craved seafood when I came home. On the nights our neighbor smoked pot, we always had a good night. We laughed a lot. I remember making chocolate croissants all the time in that small little oven, because I watched It's Complicated a lot. We would spend many nights sitting in our living room with the balcony door open, cool air streaming in and happy voices trailing up to us from Brisco's. Dusty always whistled at me when he came home from work late at night. I remember all squishing on the couch and on the floor, eating dinner and talking. I would often prop my laptop up in the bathroom, and watch TV shows while I took a bath, ceiling heater blazing. We watched TV shows and cartoons on our floor-mattress. I remember watching "Sword in the Stone" on our mattress with Britany while the guys played video games in the living room. Bryce always hit the doorbell - "blick!" - and held it as long as possible, before releasing it for the echoing "boooooong!".
And I wouldn't trade those days for anything.

Our First Place:

Welcome! Come on in!

Our open pantry became a shelving unit for wedding memorabilia, pictures, books, baskets, clocks, magazines, knick-knacks and anything else we could think of.

The book and music corner:

Our living room...

The crushed picture somehow survived, and hung there happily.
Four of our unused awful closet sliding doors worked as a nifty picture-frame holder for our map.
Our "TIPS" jar: "Cash -- not advice."

Our balcony view:

That back-side of a building that you can barely see beneath the tree's branches is Brisco's.
Our bedroom:

See how nifty we are?
Again, utilizing the awful-closet-sliding-doors to hold pictures as a makeshift headboard.

I morphed my entire side of the bed into my getting-ready zone. Complete with a TV to play Friends while I got ready in the mornings when I didn't have to work.

 The adorable green chest is Lauren's, and she got me these cute knobs for it:

Our bathroom:

The last few days we were in this apartment went way too quickly.
Even now, whenever I smell the specific candle scents we used when we lived there I totally freak out. It's the smell of that home.

I remember not wanting to take anything off of the refrigerator; they were saved-up memories that I didn't want to lose.
I've always been way too sentimental, truly, and a total pack rat.

Britany's card, asking me to be her bridesmaid. My brother and sister-in-law's Christmas card, with my niece Abby still cozy in the womb. Our magnet from Ireland. A silly little "Balderdash" game card that Jon had written when he was completely exhausted, which made absolutely no sense, causing the rest of us to wail in laughter.

"When the pig's little pigs go to get milk from the momma pig" - Jon Jorge

Leaving this place was way too hard.
The last time Dusty and I were in that apartment, it was empty. We were bringing the last few bags and boxes with us after choir tour, to drive home for the summer. We would be moving to Virginia in a few months.
I remember, so crystal clear, standing in the hallway and locking the door.
Dusty hit the doorbell button.
"Blick!"...we stood there sniffling, our arms full of stuff, laugh-crying to each other, in a state of shock that the year was over...we were graduated...we were leaving our college, our friends, our first apartment together, never coming back...tears were falling down our cheeks..."boooooong!"

Our first place.

In love,

P.S. Look forward to a few more "FF"s (Flashback Fridays) in the future. :)

1 comment:

  1. I loved that place--I can still smell the cozy candle smells, hear the echoing sounds of laughter, taste those delicious chocolate crescents, and feel friendship's warmth--the kind that curls around your stomach and warms the heart. Love you guys!