Daily Archives: March 27, 2006

Why Do They Call Them "Apart"ments…


…when they’re stuck together?

Unlike many people our age, Paul and I have never owned our own home. We’d like to, naturally, but we have a few things we want to do first—like paying back our student loans in a timely fashion so the Feds won’t have to send Guido (head of “Special Collections”) to extract the balance from us the hard way. We’d also like to be at a place financially where making a house payment won’t stretch us to the ultimate limit of our budget. Over ten years of marriage, we’ve come to realize that we both value having a little “wiggle room” in the numbers (iPods and gym memberships don’t grow on trees, you know.) And, of course, reconciling ourselves to renting was part of the choice we made when I decided to stay home with our kids.

I know some of you are asking, very sensibly, “Why didn’t you just wait to have kids until you already had a house?” That is a fine, fine idea, and one which has my full support, if you can do it. Somewhere along the line, though, Paul and I both forgot to go to medical school, choosing instead prestigious-but-low-paying careers in the educational field, and since I had no desire to be one of those 57 year-old moms you see giving birth on the news, we decided to throw caution to the wind, as it were, and jump in with both feet.

Most of the time, I am content with our decision to put off our real estate dreams. I definitely wouldn’t trade a moment of my time at home for a walk-in closet or a garden bathtub (well, truthfully, I wouldn’t mind letting go of one or two of the potty-training, puke-cleaning, emergency-room moments.) We are truly blessed in many ways, and I am thankful for the roof over my head, whatever its size. Every now and then, however, as I watch a friend flip through paint swatches for her living room remodel or channel-surf across an episode of While You Were Out, I get a full force attack of “house envy”.

Today is one of those days. I hear Home Depot calling to me from across town, a melancholy lament about non-existent Pergo floors and lemon-yellow walls I don’t have. I think it’s time, once again, to remind myself of the many advantages apartment living has to offer. So, without further ado, here are:

Things I Like About Living in an Apartment

*When the toilet pipe breaks and starts spewing unnameable gunk all over the bathroom floor, rather than frantically Googling local plumbers, we can call the landlord to come and fix it for free. We don’t even have to be there (which is a lot easier than explaining how a Wham-o Super Ball got flushed down the potty in the first place.)

*When there’s nothing good to watch on TV, we can turn everything off and listen to the latest saga of “Days of our Neighbors’ Lives”. Will Candace ever forgive her mother-in-law for accusing her of stealing an antique spoon after she accidentally took it home in the chicken casserole? Can Jeff find a higher paying job that will support Jennifer’s out-of-control spending habits? And, most importantly, what happened to the last piece of chocolate cake that Mark was saving to eat when he got home from work?

*There are seven apartments in our building. That’s six other doors I can knock on when I need to borrow an egg, or a cup of milk, or an unabridged dictionary (those Scrabble disputes between Paul and I can get pretty fierce.)

*When Paul has to stay out late or be away overnight, I feel a little more secure knowing that any screaming I do will bring at least three people running to my rescue, one of whom owns a very intimidating-looking snow shovel.

*Houseguests never seem to stay very long. I’m not sure if it’s sharing one bathroom, sleeping on the living room floor, or being awakened at five a.m. by a three year-old doing a cannonball in the middle of the air mattress, but we rarely have anyone want to stay more than a couple of nights at Chez Notes.

*Four other children live in our building, so Katie and Caleb always have someone to play with in our lovely…uh…gravel courtyard. And, though we may not have all the little luxuries, like grass, the sidewalk around the courtyard makes a perfect Big Wheel raceway. (Just be careful when stepping out of the apartment–they don’t always yield to pedestrians.)

*Speaking of children, nothing creates more wear and tear on a house than the childhood years. With every dent in the wall, with every Kool-aid stain on the carpet, with every scratch in the linoleum, I can remind myself that there is one less injury to the future home of our dreams. Everyone knows you don’t get your security deposit back, anyway, right?

*Living in a two bedroom apartment with three other people has made me a master of organization. Everything is sorted, stacked, filed, and folded around here—and not so much because of my own intrinsic sense of order as because of the terrifying nightmares I used to have about being buried alive beneath a mile-high mountain of old baby toys and outdated bank statements. Nothing new comes into the apartment before something old is recycled, donated, or trashed to make way for it. Clutter is the enemy, and I am General Patton! (As some of you know, I do have one dirty little secret, but I won’t tell if you don’t.)

So there you have it–just a handful of what are surely the hundreds of reasons to adore apartment living. If you have any to add to my list, please, feel free. I’ve still got a little Home Depot ringing in my ears.