The dishwasher in my apartment doesn’t work. Dishes don’t come out clean, water spills onto the floor, and if the racks aren’t loaded just so the whole appliance clunks out of the cabinet sending both racks wheeling forward and risking every dish set inside. The made-to-look-like granite painted countertops are chipping.
The caulking is peeling out from the shower tiles where there isn’t grout. The grout is crumbling. The screw in the middle knob is stripped so that it turns and turns but turns neither the bath nor shower on. The chain to the flapper gets stuck sometimes so that the toilet runs until its handle is jiggled.
The AC is inefficient at cooling and exceptional at creating noise. The screen in the living room window falls off every once in a while. It’s on the second story.
The apartment is wearing its age. Being an apartment it hasn’t aged well. Of course, I could call in maintenance requests, but they’re picky about what gets fixed.
When asked, I have trouble explaining why I love this place.
“You’re getting complacent.”
“You aren’t thinking of staying there, are you?”
Because it’s easier I focus on the size and the cost and the location. It really is a great location adjoining a nice neighborhood, walking distance to a park, coffee, video rentals, and burgers and beer. For what it is, the size and cost fit me well. It doesn’t have a square foot of carpet and it has gas cooking.
All that is true. What I don’t mention is that this place has been my home. My first home. That’s not a feeling to give up for just anything. I’ll look out from my kitchen at my living area, the pets looking truly content, pictures and prints hanging on the walls and feel capable. This is mine. I made this home.
Outside my apartment walls, outside the door that swells in the rain is a world that leaves me feeling confused and belittled. Lost, like a teenage girl filled with years of hearing only negatives. My parents say that when I was very little I used to proclaim, “I’m Brynne. I know everything!”
I’d like to meet that plucky girl.
Now, bitter and afraid, it’s inside these walls I can still feel brave…safe…home. Outside these walls all my unrealized dreams of literary success and the love and laughter of a family mock me. Even on my worst days home is unconditional. Here if I burn dinner, lose my temper with the dog, and neglect the cat for a day it’s not detrimental. There’s always a jar of peanut butter. Benny will always forgive me. Myrah will never leave my side.