Friday, November 27, 2009

The Great Experiment: First Come, First Served.

And I know that it must be the woman in you
That brings out the man in me

I don’t know what it is about that lyric that can send me into a fit of laughter, but every time I hear that song and specifically that lyric, I think of permed hair and giant bush. The eighties were so…reckless abandon and completely without reason.I think that if a man recited that lyric, seriously to me, the woman whom he adored, I might die of embarrassment for him.

That song was a hit for one simple truth: The first time is always the best time, even when it can be the most awkward, embarrassing, humbling and stupid experience you have ever endured. As children, adolescents and young adults, we really don’t think about anything other than the first time. The first time riding a bike without training wheels, the first time going to school on the school bus, losing your first tooth, breaking your first bone, your first boner, the first time you got boned, the first time you got stoned, the first time driving a car, the first time you drove stoned……….. Youth is all about first times, totally being unprepared for the magnitude of these first times, and then completely taking these moments for granted.

God, teenagers suck.

I think the only first time I never took for granted was when I rented my first apartment, SOLO. Not the first time I moved out, but my first apartment that was all mine. No roommates, no unwanted animals and their dirty litter boxes, no having to deal with another person’s aversion to washing dishes, no having to deal with another person’s velvet painting fetish, or creepy-bug eyed children painting collection. The mess that would be there would be all mine. No more labeling food or sneaking labeled food, my dirty dishes, my dirty panties on the bathroom floor, my dust, my skid marks in the toilet; MINE MINE MINE!

Finding my own place was particularly momentous in that I had just moved out of an apartment that I had once shared with a very dear friend of mine, who ended up moving out. Let’s face it, our friendship was feeling the strain of living with one another and it was time to move on… Monica and Rachel we were not and rental rates in Cincinnati are very affordable on one’s own. However, when she cut the cord I was unprepared to leave our apartment and had to begin the very laborious process of finding a new roommate.

*famous last words* I was young. I needed the money.

After months of searching for “Roommate Right”, I eventually shacked up with a rockabilly rodeo queen who had a habit of parading nude around the apartment while eating rotisserie chickens whole…. One day after I realized I was more familiar with the sight of her nipples than I was with my own, and the smell of chicken carcasses rotting in the trash was starting to work on my nerves, it occurred to me that it was time to go solo. I sat Patsy Cline down and broke the news gently, and though no tears were shed, I knew she was devastated when soon after she skipped town owing me a couple hundred bucks.…….. A small price to pay for freedom, I suppose!

Ever since I busted out of my parental homestead and moved to the big bad city, I have always lived in questionable, “artsy” parts of town. Some people (my mother and father) would say that I lived in the “ghetto”; I liked to think of my neighborhoods as “Areas of Urban Renaissance & Inspiration”…. Yes, it was dirty, yes there were prostitutes and drug dealers, and yes there were 20 children living in the house across the street….. But, the architecture was brilliant, I was close to school and work, and more importantly, the rent was $250 a month for 1000 sf with hardwood floors, French Doors, Rookwood Tiled fireplaces (one in every room), a huge walk in closet, and a giant claw foot tub. Yeah, the refrigerator was 50 years old and I had to defrost the freezer all of the time, but I thought my first place was the most magnificent apartment in all of apartment land!

The first day I had possession of the apartment, I headed over with an assortment of newly purchased cleaning products, scented candles and dried sage to burn in case there were any negative vibes left over from previous tenants… I was on a mission for good juju, dammit, and nothing was going to stop me. I tenderly washed all of the woodwork and floors, gathered up all of the dust and cobwebs, then burned them with the sage, baptizing my new domain in the earthly smoke of new found freedom. The aroma of sage, oil soap, and satisfaction overcame me and I don’t think I had ever felt so accomplished in my entire life. I sorted through my shopping bags of new towels for hand and bath, picture frames, throw rugs, keepsakes, and kitsch. I was ready to nest my roost and the world was at my feet.

To this day I remember that feeling and I can still smell that sage and soap, and hear the echo of my portable cd player against the naked walls and floors. It was the first time that I had ever felt like an “adult”. I felt competent, responsible and capable of anything I wanted to put my mind to. I was woman and I roared.

Once I had everything in its rightful place, I took pictures of my perfect apartment to cherish forever. These days when I am feeling broken down, I bust out that album to remember a time when I knew I could accomplish anything I wanted to, as long as I worked hard enough. Sometimes the woman I am today needs to reconnect with the young woman I was ten years ago, to remember where I was and how far I have come, while reminiscing my first perfect apartment and the beginning of my life.

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  1. I remember my first apartment on my own. There is nothing more empowering. Homeownership too. I actually stroked my walls and said "I OWN you. I can paint you whatever color I want!" Dude, you crack me up. Such a great sense of humor.

  2. I hadn't thought about it in a while, but I loved my first solo apartment too. I was all independent and happy and carefree. I miss those days.

  3. Roar, you do. Loved your intro calling out all the "first times" that pass unnoticed. As George Bernard Shaw said, "Youth is wasted on the young."

  4. Yes! you used my favorite euphimism for sex. Great post...I still haven't had my very own apartment.

  5. Oh to live with a rodeo queen! What's a bit of chicken between friends? Made me laugh - thanks.

  6. Terrific story! Thank you for your kind words on my blog.

    -Digital Bath

  7. Having somewhere that you can call your own place is always liberating, but the first place, no matter how bad it may be, is the place where you finally think of yourself as being an adult, and no longer under the control and conditions of other people....

    That, to me, is the greatest feeling in the world....


  8. Too right, Spawny......... too right.