So hard to believe that, this time next week, our little North Gate quad will be no more. Although I’m thoroughly thrilled about my little house, and Jennifer’s completely infatuated with her yellow bungalow, it’s bittersweet.
There’s been such a collection of moments here…
When I moved into A8 in Sept-06, I was completely boggled by the disgustingness of my new 1970’s-infested apartment home. When I gagged at the sight of 30 years worth of drippings down the side of the stove, Mama and Daddy shooed me out of the kitchen and scrubbed it until it was spotless. Still brown and harvest gold, but spotless nonetheless. I’ve never moved into a new/old/any house/dorm/apartment/townhouse without Mama’s assistance… Monday will be yet another first.
Now about that kitchen. Wow. Brown and harvest gold linoleum, appliances as old as the building itself and older than me, oily brown squirrely cabinets that I refused to put my things in until Bobby painted the inside of them (oh yeah, that was probably one of his favorite moving-in moments – he muttered obscenities the entire time). And there was a chandelier – brown wood, with golden flowers painted on the glass globes… a vintage treasure. Feeling a bit distressed and unable to overcome the memories of my brand-spanking-new ceramic-top stove that I’d abandoned in Charlotte, I turned to Ebay. I researched the decorating trends of the 70’s (I’m a freak, I know) and embraced my seventies-heaven, searching painstakingly for the circa-1976 Merry Mushroom pattern from Sears and Roebuck. Found a fabulous clock and spoon rest, a so-horrible-it’s-almost-cute brown and golden frog that holds my scrubbie in his mouth, a brown/gold bull named Ferdinand, and a lovely plaque that I unearthed in Mama’s attic that says “EAT YOUR VEGGIE” spelled out in… you guessed it… vegetables. I cyber-stalked the Merry Mushroom canister set for months, but never could quite bring myself to buy it… Now, I ask you, the hell am I going to do with my 70’s kitchen decor?!
And then there are the neighbors. Bird-Boy, who earned his name through his fondness of birds and all living things. Outside his apt, there are an amazing number of planters full of all sorts of greenery… and nestled among the leaves are little dead stuffed birds. Yes, I’m pretty freaking sure that they’re real, actual birds. I poked one once. And there was the time that he came bursting out of his apt with cupped hands, shouting “I must get it to safety” and then dramatically opened his hands to allow a ladybug to fly away. Wow.
And there’s Crazy Chad and Crazy Chad’s sister. Crazy Chad once offered to sell Tom and Jennifer a $2.99 frozen pizza for $15… he needed poker money for a poker game that he needed Tom to drive him to. I spied Crazy Chad in his grayish-white boxers on multiple occasions – not because I wanted to, mind you, but because he thought that they were appropriate breezeway apparel. And Crazy Chad’s sister – yes, they live together – never spends the night at the apt… she leaves late at night and comes in early the next morning, disheveled, bleary-eyed, and dropping her scanty panties on the stairs. We’ve come up with all sorts of fun stories about her vocation.
And there’s Linda and Sam, a mother and son who live below us. They’re both cancer survivors – she’s had it twice, he’s had it 3 or 4 times – and they’re both unemployed. So they sit and smoke together in the breezeway, which should actually be called the I-wish-there-was-a-breeze-way. Jennifer regularly makes a statement by coughing exaggeratedly when she’s transporting Maggie through the smoke-filled chamber – she always puts a blanket over Maggie’s head to prevent her from getting lung cancer in the 1.35 seconds that she’s exposed to the cigarette smoke.
And there’s Paul Tackett. A professor at Anderson University, he lives alone and plays the cello at all hours of the day and night. It comes groaning up through my and Bobby’s floor – I asked Jennifer to come over and use her former-music-teacher expertise to identify the sound – was a bit worrisome the first few times. Paul Tackett really, really, REALLY likes Tom and Jennifer, and regularly would launch a “Tackett-Attack” in the parking lot – sitting in wait in his car until Tom and/or Jennifer were available, then hopping out to ask them over for pizza. Always pizza. What’s up with my neighbors and pizza?
And we can’t forget the landlady herself. Mrs. Locke, a true southern gem. When I signed my lease, she instructed me (and I quote – please excuse the creative spelling as I attempt to capture her southern drawl) not to put “whirlah-gigs in the shrub-brah.” What’s a whirly-gig? And there was the time that, soon after I moved in, my refrigerator started smelling strange. I called her and she suggested that I “check the refrigeratah pan undaneath because it can cause a wonkay smell.” Odd bird, that landlady.
And all the memories weren’t good. Mama sitting on the couch with that ever-growing bump on her head. Breaking out into a cold sweat from walking up the stairs. At the end, having to be carried up the stairs so that she could see her 1.5-week-old grandbaby on the way to have her brain radiated. Those are the memories that I’m gladly leaving here, although I have a feeling that those damn things are going to find their way into a box along with the baking dishes.
So Bobby and I lived in A8 and Jennifer and Tom lived in A7. Directly beside each other, where we could hear conversations through the bathroom wall – did a sound test during those first few days, so we know that the bathroom wall was the only non-soundproof area (I know what you’re thinking – yes, I was thinking it too). I wasn’t sure that it would be the best scenario at first, but it was exactly as it should have been. It’s very difficult for me to imagine how 2007 could have been any harder, any more painful than it was… but doing it alone, with Jennifer anywhere other than 10 feet away, would have actually succeeded in increasing the suckage level. I had the opportunity to get to know Tom, to be there for every step of Maggie’s life so far, to know that when I get home from work and feel completely empty, there’s someone right across the breezeway who knows.
But we couldn’t stay here forever – don’t WANT to stay here forever. And our little houses are only 0.6 miles apart – and long walk or a short drive. And although it probably sounds odd that I’m having separation anxiety – I am 30 years old, after all – but I guess it’s just going to be different… and I find comfort in knowing that 0.6 miles just isn’t that far.