The carpet was a kaleidoscope of different shades of brown and the kitchen had dark brown wooden cabinets and unattractive fluorescent lighting. It was in desperate need of a remodel.
It was our first place. A two bedroom basement apartment in a little cul-de-sac. We weren’t even there a full year – we moved there in the Spring and were out by the Superbowl, moving on to an adorable condo with neutral colors and lots of natural light.
Its true that it was ugly. Also true is the fact that every single time we drive by it together, I’m hit with a sweet, warm wave of nostalgia.
It was the place we cooked our first meals together. It was where Will taught me how to cook rice and we ate the same three meals every week because they were the only ones we could agree on.
It was where we watched the fireworks on the fourth of July laying on the grass in our front yard with friends and we promised eachother we would live there at least until the next fourth of July so we could do it again. It was also my farewell kiss to pink vodka lemonades, who I never ever wanted to see again after that night spent on the bathroom linoleum.
It was a hot, stormy summer and a cold, snowy winter in our little apartment. It was where we were living when a tornado touched down uncomfortably close and it was where we were living the night I made the scariest drive home I’d ever experienced – on black ice and feet of snow. A drive upon when we finally made it home, Will asked what time we were going to head back to his friend’s house. And upon which I politely informed him that OVER MY DEAD BODY that would be happening.
It was nights of staying up late together drinking and talking alone or with friends. It was buying our first Christmas tree and decorating together. It was early, early mornings waking up in the pitch black to drive to work with bleary eyes wondering if it would always be hard waking up that early for work. It was deciding who would do what for chores – where Will was resigned to bathrooms and garbage duty for the rest of his life.
It was where I thought I would lose my mind listening to our upstairs neighbors’ grandchildren running and screaming at impossibly early times (which back then was probably around 10 am …. Sigh). It was where our power went out one night when it was 15 degrees below zero and when I woke up I could practically see my breath. It was where the heater in my car stopped working during the same below zero streak and later the power had to be turned off to our apartment because an inspector found a situation that would likely cause a fire if left un-fixed.
It was where I lay outside tanning in the summer and reading Stieg Larsson and Maya Angelou. It was where I was so new into my first “professional” job that I wasn’t allowed to take any time off work the summer we lived there, so we drove to Deadwood with our friends on a Friday night and came back on Sunday.
We were living there when Will’s grandma got sick, and spent those days driving back and forth from our apartment to her hospital room in Red Lodge – staying as long as we could before driving back to crash in our dark little apartment.
It was where Will’s parents stocked up our spice collection and my mom brought us fruit all summer. It was where I went through a phase of buying lemons for our counter because I thought they smelled good and thought our apartment desperately needed some bright color. It was where Will taught me how to play darts and where we were living when we got eachother an INSANE amount of Christmas presents before we were doing things like saving money for a wedding or house or baby.
It was where we were living when we would go out to our favorite little pizza restaurant almost once a week. We had the same waitress every time who would always flirt with Will and knew our order by heart. We joked we were the only ones keeping them in business, and it wasn’t long after we moved that they closed.
I’m sure we must have had at least a fight or two there, but if we did I can’t remember. I do remember turning to Will one night as we were lounged out on the couch and asking him do you think it was a hard adjustment, moving in together? He didn’t skip a beat before answering not at all. Me either, I said. Isn’t is supposed to be? Aren’t we supposed to be fighting over cleaning or bills or something?
But we didn’t. Those were the romantic, “easy” days. The days we had time to do things like read a book while tanning and play video games together and watch terrible movies like Roadhouse and Showgirls because we had nothing more important to do. I look back and remember the ugly carpet and the way the handles fell off the cabinets and how our neighbors pulled us aside and told us they were smokers but DON’T TELL OUR LANDLORD. I remember a period of life when we had enough spare energy and money and time to make a less than 48 hour trip that included over 10 hours of driving to go drink and gamble and sight-see with friends.
And it was a freaking beautiful time. We were young and spontaneous and in love and carefree and still learning about what it meant to be adults.
Now we have hardwood floors in a house we own and a toddler who runs up and down the halls and squeals with laughter just like our neighbors’ grandchildren did, and it is the most wonderful sound in the whole world. There are no longer spontaneous out of town trips, or lounging in the sun or staying up late drinking and talking with friends. Instead there is planting our own flowers and watching bright orange poppies explode open and long family drives with the windows down and the three of us cuddling in bed on Sunday mornings. This is the house that has seen my bachelorette party and morning sickness and six hours of labor and long sleepless nights with a brand new baby. It has seen it all and will see much, much more.
And some day Will and I will drive by this little house and squeeze eachother’s hands as a sweet wave of nostalgia hits us. And I will say remember the day we moved in? Remember the day we brought Gia home from the hospital? Remember the winter our heat went out and it was 26 degrees below zero? Hey, speaking of power going out at terrible times, remember our first apartment? The ugly brown carpet? I loved that place.