All the ‘firsts’ in our lives are significant. At least mine have always been. So I simply couldn’t resist this WordPress Daily Prompt: “Tell us about your first day at something — your first day of school, first day of work, first day living on your own, first day blogging, first day as a parent, whatever.”
There are dozens and dozens of ‘firsts’ I could write about, and I reserve the right to share them with you at another time, but today’s blog post is going to be all about my first apartment.
To start, you have to understand it was unusual for single girls to move out of their parents’ homes when I decided I wanted an apartment of my own. It was acceptable if you were going to university out of town or if you were getting married. Period.
You also have to understand I got along very well with my parents. This was not an attempt, on my part, to get away from them because I hated them.
It was really quite simple; and innocent. I had recently started to work — yes, my first job. And I wanted a taste of independence. I wanted to have to take care of myself and make my own decisions. Not unusual for an only child. I wanted to cook for myself. And clean up after myself. I wanted to come and go as I pleased. Pay my bills and answer to no one.
Essentially I wanted to be a grown-up.
Telling my parents was easier said than done. I rehearsed it, in my head, over and over and over again. No matter how I phrased it, it seemed wrong. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. But I didn’t want to come across as being half-hearted, either. I had to be serious. Firm. I was, after all, of legal age. Really, they couldn’t have stopped me. But that wasn’t the kind of relationship we had. I loved them, respected them, trusted them and had great times with them. I didn’t want to ruin that.
But it was time.
I remember it so clearly. The day I finally blurted it out. I’d been in a high state of anxiety for a few months already; and at this point, the longer it took me to ‘fess up, the less likely I’d have been to belly up to the bar and get it done. So I picked a Sunday morning when we were having breakfast. My mother called us to the table and before I was even seated I spit it out, without taking a breath. I know it sounded like one, long, run-on sentence: “I’m of legal age. I want my own apartment. I don’t want to argue about it with you. I just want my own apartment. I’ve been checking the papers and I have some to see. I am going to look for one today.”
Not the most graceful way of saying it, but I was a wreck.
Then they offered to come with me. Yes, to my great surprise (and relief) they didn’t try to stop me.
Before they could change their minds, I started making appointments for later that day. The first two even I didn’t like. You can imagine my parents’ reaction. They weren’t in the best neighbourhoods and the buildings were kind of run down.
Hey, you have no idea how little money I was earning. I couldn’t afford much.
Thankfully the third, and last, apartment was on a terrific street. It was a tiny building — only four stories. But the neighbourhood was respectable. I finally let my breath out. The minute the Super opened the front door I fell in love. It was cute, cute, cute. And the price was right, too. And it was downtown, walking distance to my office. What more could I have asked for?
Well, as it turned out, my parents weren’t happy it was on the ground floor. They feared for my safety. As it turned out they were right. I wasn’t even living there a year when I was robbed. But that’s a whole other story.
My dad was going out of town on business the next day. He begged me to wait until he came back to make a decision. I had a cousin whose in laws owned an apartment building a couple of blocks east. In truth it was a much better building and I would have had a much nicer apartment. It was a bit more expensive but my father felt sure he could get me a deal, given we were related. Sort of.
Stupidly I thought it was just a tactic to delay the inevitable. I was wrong. My parents knew I was old enough to live on my own and some of their friends were already going through the same thing with their daughters. So they weren’t trying to stall. They simply wanted me to be safe and have the best apartment I could have.
To quote our illustrious Mayor, Rob Ford (the king of meaningless apologies), I ‘effed’ up. I insisted on renting the tiny, ground floor apartment, right that very minute.
Yes, I did live to regret it, but isn’t that what life’s all about? Learning from our mistakes?
Well, mission accomplished.