I'm a memory-lane type person. I love going back through old photos to reminisce and can easily get lost in them for hours upon hours. And if you can't tell, I'm a storyteller. So couple that trait with old photos and you've got me blubbering on forever about days passed. Welcome to one of those moments.
Once upon a time, I lived in a fantasy apartment. Let's go back a decade or so....
2004. I had been back in Tulsa for a few years, living in a cute (but dilapidated) apartment within walking distance of Cherry Street with Pimmy and Vera. My dearest Dawn (remember my friend who went on the fabric run with me?!) was also living with her two kitties not too far from my place and we hung out all of the time. One random day, while accompanying a friend to see a potentially new apartment, we found the place that we would share for the next several years.
While our friend was busy looking at his new digs, the landlord casually mentioned how upstairs was recently vacated and was awaiting some touch ups before it was ready for new tenants. Think about this - downstairs housed three super cute apartments while the entire upstairs was one amazing apartment. This place was bigger than our current home is now. The folks who had just left had been there for almost ten years. The landlord (who was QUITE the character. I'll never, ever forget his laugh.) took us up to view the place and Dawn and I looked at each other with wide eyes. It was amazing. Neither of us were sure that we wanted to live with roommates again but after pros and cons lists (yes, we really did that) and many conversations, we decided that we couldn't pass this place up. We promptly staked our claim and waited for the place to be fixed up.
At the time, it did need a touch up here and there but that ended up being a blessing in disguise. The landlord let us choose whatever paint colors that we wanted and painted it all himself. He was a great, great, great landlord. I believe that we had three or four rooms painted to our likings, if I remember correctly. Even the laundry room got a rainbow makeover! Many of the already-colorful rooms stayed the same.
So there we were, living in this unbelievably huge (bedrooms big enough to include couches!) and colorful apartment within walking distance of 18th & Boston and my work (and later Dawn's work too!) for pennies. It only took a short while for our kitties to become a herd of four and we all lived famously well together for almost four years.
It was a great time all around. For about half of the time we lived together, we also worked together! I was a secretary at an architecture firm for five years and Dawn was/is an interior designer. In fact now that I think of it, EVERYONE that I have ever lived with extensively, I have also worked with! Strange! We totally rode and walked to work together everyday. We had epically memorable parties, spent many beautiful evenings on our front porch and lived above some of our closest friends. Oh, did I mention that? When we moved in, we knew every single one of our downstairs neighbors. Later when one of our friends moved out, I discovered that the woman who moved in his spot was my Mimi's best friend's (Dottie's) daughter! That place was special. I still drive past it occasionally when I'm in the area and wonder who inhabits the space now.
When I first thought of writing about the Cincinnati apartment, I sure didn't plan to write a novel. But once I started to look back and reflect on that time in my life, it just came flooding. It wasn't just a place where I slept and shared a fridge with a person. It was an era in my life that I look back so fondly on. It was a place where a friendship turned into family. It was a dream with ill-fitting pants, vivacious kitties, Mexican tiling, locust jokes, plentiful windows, overflowing trash cans, wasp-filled sunrooms, two staircases and two private bathrooms. Who could ask for more?