I used to think that first came love, then came marriage, then came putting a down payment on a house. The baby carriage came many, many years later.
BJ and I grew up in houses, not apartments, and I’m sure this had something to do with my skewed vision of the “life checkpoints” rhyme. Both of our parents even built houses at one point in time. (He has a great story about helping his dad lay the concrete foundation of a house with nothing but a spade.) With our two massive dogs, a backyard would be pretty spectacular; a front porch for early summer nights would be nice, too. We could even have cookouts or brewing parties without feeling the crunch of 480 square feet.
Alas, we are apartment homemakers. But is it really alas? I’m starting to think not. Our apartment is tiny, 70s-inspired (not by choice), and has its fair share of household quips. For the most part, though, No. 123 is about as homey as apartments come, with character to spare.
Still, it took us a while to warm up to No. 123 as home. Because we didn’t have the funds to come out to Texas for a preview/apartment shopping trip, we signed our lease over the internet (which you really should never do). We had no idea what our apartment would be like. We knew nothing about what it would look like. And we definitely had no clue what it would smell like. I’m fairly sure there was a silent, collective gasp when we first walked into No. 123, but there was also a moment of decision. Despite our apartment’s space/design quibbles, we chose to love it right from the get-go, and because of that it’s grown on us tremendously. If we didn’t invest in it emotionally and say, “Okay. This is home now. We’re going to like it and be thankful for it,” then I wonder if we truly would have come to appreciate No. 123 as much as we do now.
I think that’s the number one rule of apartment living: choose to love your apartment. If you don’t, there’s a chance you’ll be miserable until your lease finally ends, and your apartment will never take on that warm, welcoming feeling of home. If your apartment smells like wet socks, love it enough to steam vacuum the carpet and sponge down the walls with white vinegar. If your sink is Easter egg green, love it enough to buy dishrags that match. If your bathroom has a trick lock, think of how much fun you’ll have when guests accidentally lock themselves in your bathroom. (So far, I’m the only one who has locked herself in; our friends are far smarter than that.)