That's a picture of my very first apartment. To you, it looks like the shit hole it was, and still is (I drive by there all the time, just to say hi).
I was 19. I was young, idealistic, and owned every MTV buzz bin tape ever made (grand total: 2).
And I had shitty taste in real estate.
It was in a year that still seems like a dream to me. 1999.
It seemed like every other song on the radio was Dishwalla's Counting Blue Cars. Lou Bega had a little bit of Mardi Gras in his life; before there was OMG, there was OMC...how bizarre.
In that year, there weren't a lot of people with cell phones, most of them had "Dr." before their name; the only text messages were those scrawled across a post-it, and coming home to find a voicemail on my answering machine was one of the best feelings ever.
What you can't see from this view is the Harley Davidson phone my roommate owned. When someone called, the headlights flashed, and the engine revved. You had to talk into the seat. We would've gotten better reception from trying to place a phone call from an actual Harley Davidson.
The floors were hardwood, and leaned to the side, like they were exhausted from thousands of feet walking across them. After living there a month, I recognized every creak, every groan, every grumbling complaint from the floor as I walked across it.
It seemed like every new friend I met knew someone who'd lived there before. Their first question was always "Is the bathroom still pink?"
Not a cute, ladylike pink, but more like a gaudy, whorehouse pink. The bathroom clashed with the rest of the house, which was apathetic; mediocre at best. It was as if the bathroom had decided to rebel from the rest of the house and instead of picking a respectable profession, it ran away and joined the circus.
Despite all these things, I loved that apartment with an intensity that I haven't felt since. It was my first place. Sometimes I'd come home and just hug myself with the sheer giddiness of being in a place that was mine. Ugly, creaky, no cable, and smelling of car exhaust, but mine.
I met a lot of questionable boys in those days. Those were the days that I thought it was rude to say no to a date if the boy wasn't an outright psycho.
I ended up meeting a couple of real winners.
There was 'try to move in after three dates' boy'; 'have a seizure in my bed while playing with a strobe light' boy; 'stalker boy (originally known as: try to move in after three dates boy)'; and '45 year old dad with two kids older than you' boy, just to name a few.
The 'stalker' was actually pretty entertaining. He'd leave notes on my car telling me I looked pretty. Sometimes he'd put a box of candy on the top of my car, and I'd find it, melted in the heat of summer.
As stalkers go, he wasn't fear inducing. Mostly, he just made me laugh. If he was a better quality of stalker, he would've been a Dr. Pepper, instead, he was the cheap knockoff stalker: trying to be Dr. Pepper, but forever just Dr. Thunder.
I think the worst thing the stalker ever did was leave a dozen dead roses on my doorstep. I wasn't freaked out, I just thought he was a moron. Throwing away money on roses, and then letting them get all dried up? Just dumb.
When it was time for me to move out of that apartment, I remember how heavy I felt. It was like ending a friendship. I felt like I was leaving a big piece of me behind.
I walked over the creaking floorboards, one last time, thinking about the next people to live here, how they'd probably frown at the way the floor leaned. Would they learn to love this place the way I had?
I still drive by there, just to make sure the place with so many of my memories is still there. Each time I see it, I breathe a little easier.
I wonder if houses have memories, the way that people do.
I wonder if the stalker boy still thinks I live there.
I wonder if the college age kids living there have as many crazy stories from that place as I did.
Most of all, I wonder if the bathroom is still pink.