No way. I pull my red truck up to the curb of my alleged new home. After parking the enormous vehicle my parents just had to get me for my sweet sixteen two years ago, I grab the ad printout, which lies crumpled on my passenger seat, and compare it to the building I’m now staring at, destined to live in.
“Apartment in downtown area. Plenty to do.” Yeah, well, I guess they forgot to mention that by saying “downtown,” they really meant ghetto and by “plenty to do,” they meant dealing drugs and prostituting. I’m not quick to judge, but just on my drive in, I passed some sketchy-looking people smoking what looked like a joint in clear daylight.
Maybe the inside is better? But even as my mind goes there, I know it’s not true. Sighing to myself, I jump out of my big wheeled truck, bringing the keys with me. At home, I’d leave the keys in the ignition and know nobody would touch the car. Of course, that’s probably the only advantage to living in one of the richest towns in Connecticut.
But here, I highly doubt that my custom car is safe, especially parked curb side. So I shut the door and lock it—clicking one, two, three times just for good measure. I pull on the handle to make sure it’s locked since my entire life’s worth of possessions are inside. Luckily, my tinted windows hide what’s in there. Not that I have that much stuff. This is my first time moving away from home, so my truck was able to house it all.
I take a deep breath and step my flip-flopped foot towards my new home. While staring up at the multiple floors, I don’t look where I’m walking and fall forward over the broken sidewalk. I trip, but luckily, my arms are fast, and I catch myself, saving the immediate danger of an embarrassing face-plant.
I mutter to myself as I dust my hands off from the prickly gravel I just embedded in my palms. The pebbles clink as they drop to the ground. I look down at the assailant who tripped me, and notice the cement sidewalk has a crack that looks like someone hit it with a car and cut a chunk out.
I shake my head again and turn back toward the house, but that view is hardly better. The front lawn, if you’d even call it that, is nice and green, but there aren’t any flowers or bushes making it homey and welcoming. It’s boring and small, but it’s clean—at least they’re doing something right. The main door is shut, and when I go to grab the handle, I figure it’ll be locked since that’s the safe thing to do.
But the thing creaks open like it’s about to fall from the hinges. So much for security around here. Groaning, I step in and a musty smell overwhelms my senses. My hand involuntarily reaches up and covers my nose, to save my senses from the nasty, old stench. I shut the door behind me, but the only way it fully shuts is after I hip check it into position and push as hard as I can.
I definitely feel safe here…
“Hello?” I ask, the building silent. The front room, I guess you’d call it a foyer, is completely open and empty. It’s small, and there’s no furniture at all. I walk around the bare area and look for a door or office or really anything. Luckily, I find an elevator with a sign hung up next to it, explaining where everything is. 1B is the office, so I follow the wall around a corner and read off each door number/letter code until I get there.
It’s a short walk to the office since the building is so small. Plus there is really only one way to go, so I make it nice and fast around the hallway. I knock first on the windowless door, but there’s no answer. So I turn the handle and open the door, hoping it’s okay. The room is dimly lit and the fluorescent lights flicker like they’re set on a dimmer that’s half up, half down.
“Hi,” I say when I spot a man’s balding head behind the IKEA-looking desk. His back is turned towards me, and instead of answering, he holds up a finger. I look around, and the office is nothing special. There’s some mailboxes, so I make a mental note of that, but everything else is normal, boring.
Finally, the man turns to face me as I stand awkwardly in front of him, and he points to a phone which rests on the space between his shoulder and ear. I nod, trying to be polite, but he just returns it with a smirk that leaves me feeling grimy.
I stand in front of the high reception desk, twiddling my thumbs, waiting on this dirty man to just give me my dang key so I can start unloading my truck. The guy looks like a seedy used car salesman with his grayish-brown suit that’s too big for his short and stout body. The top of his collared shirt is unbuttoned, revealing gray hair poking through and twirling out towards his face. And I’m pretty sure there’s a stain where his nipple might be.
His hair is brown and greasy, with a thinning top where a few wisps try to cover the obvious bald spot. I cringe when I notice his crumb-filled goatee. His eyes are dark yet glassy like he’s spent a little too much time hitting the bong and with the rest of his appearance, he might have.
“Mary, I know your roof’s leaking, but I told you someone was on it last week.” He’s being incredibly rude to the person on the phone. He brings his inky eyes up to me and rolls them, pointing to the phone. I just nod back, faking enthusiasm, and the minute he looks away, I roll my eyes. “You don’t pay me to fix that. Hire someone,” he snips out and then slams the phone onto the receiver with a huff that makes me jump.
He lets out a long sigh and then finally focuses on me. “What are you here for?” he asks as if I’m the biggest inconvenience to his important day.
“I’m moving in today. I just want my key,” I tell him, trying to make this as quick and painless as possible for the both of us.
“Oh right…5B. Great…” he mutters, rummaging through his desk. I take the final few steps towards the desk until my fingers touch the brim and notice his disorganized mess. I rest my elbows on top of the counter and glance down at what he’s doing on the lower part. There are papers scattered everywhere—his phone is now missing, like it was sucked into quicksand, and there’s just crap all over the place. “Here,” he says, passing me a manila envelope over the desk.
“Thanks,” I mutter, taking the folder. I start opening it, planning to go through it and make sure that everything is there, when he interrupts me with an exaggerated sigh.
“Is that it?” His voice is gruff, and when I look up, his eyes narrow like he’s undressing me. I bring the envelope to my chest to cover myself from this creepy pervert’s gaze.
“Yeah…thanks.” I roll my eyes as I leave the room. What a jerk.
Just as I’m shutting the door behind me, his husky voice flutters behind me. “By the way, the elevator is temporally out of service.” He chuckles to himself, taking joy from my misery.
“Of course it is,” I say back, faking a smile. I shut his office door with a slam, and it gives me some satisfaction. I rummage through my folder as I make my way back to the front room. I find some stairs so I walk up, wanting to peek in at my new apartment before unloading. 5B is on the fifth floor, so I dread having to haul all of my things upstairs.
But I have to be optimistic. This is what I want—this is what I saved my ice cream career lifetime savings for. I can live alone. Despite what my mother and father think, I can do this whole independent thing. Even if this apartment building is a dump, it will be my dump, and that’s all that matters.
I unlock the door after trekking up the stairs and hold my breath, filled with nerves. This feels like I’m opening the door to a new chapter of my life. I can be anything I want to be and do anything I want to. I push open the door, expecting the worse, but it’s surprisingly decent. It’s definitely dated, though.
There’s a small entry way where I first walk in, and then the rest of the place is open. The kitchen has checkered red and white walls and wooden floors that are warped from excessive water damage. The living room is similar, but painted plain white. It’s very dull, but I can fix that easily.
I run past the living room, where there’s a bedroom and am a tad disappointed by the size of it. The ad promised a large room, and it definitely didn’t deliver. But the bed fits nicely, and it’s livable. I’m staying here alone, after all.
The same goes for the bathroom, which at least has an average sized shower/bath tub combo. The bathroom is also tiled red and white, matching the kitchen walls.
It’s not bad. Could be a lot worse. I have enough money saved up, from working the past few summers, to pay for two semesters, so I’m set. Thinking positive thoughts. This is my adult life, and while this apartment isn’t what I expected, it will be a perfect starter.
I drop the packet of my belongings from Mr. Dick downstairs on the kitchen counter and put the key in my front jean pocket. I start school in just one day so I don’t really have time to sit back and relax. I need to get myself moved in as fast as possible, and then figure out where the hell my classes are so I’m ready for tomorrow.
My life is finally starting, and I’ve never felt more ready.