You never forget your first home.
Of course, I have had many homes in my life--when your Dad's in the military you move around a lot, and "home" is where you happen to be living at the time. (Mom had a great talent for making a home--Dad once told her that he could pitch a tent in the middle of a desert and she would go "cluck cluck cluck" and make a nest).
But *my* first home was our apartment in Alumni Village--the married/graduate student apartment complex off the FSU campus. We only lived there about a year, then we upgraded to a slightly (very slightly) larger apartment, and then had moved on to have our second anniversary in Texas when Bob got his commission.
But I have always loved that little apartment--*my* first home. The Village will be torn down in a year or so. The occupancy is down, and the buildings old (they were already seeming a bit shabby 40 years ago). They don't have the amenities most renters require now--the laundry room is a few blocks away, there's no WiFi or pool or gym. I'm not sure if they every had a prime, but if so, they're past it.
Now that the apartment is unoccupied, Bob got permission to go visit it. He's been there doing inspections over the years, but it was my first time back. Suddenly I felt 20 again, and a newlywed (well, almost a newlywed--we did a shocking thing at the time and moved in two weeks before we were married!)
Our was the one on the top floor.
I do see a bit of an air conditioner in this picture. We didn't have one--we couldn't afford to buy one, and if we had, we wouldn't have been able to afford the power bill to run it. We just sweated a lot.
I felt a little trepidation about opening that door. Sometime you should just keep your fond memories intact and not besmirch them with reality. But guess what? It's rather a nice little apartment. Brighter than I remember it (somehow I remember more gray). And there had been the "damn you" wall in the living room--the one with the big hole where a previous owner had stuck an air conditioner and covered with a chunk of plywood, with nasty water stains all down the wall. I'd stare at that ugliness and say "damn you damn you damn you" and finally hung a cheap Indian print bedspread over it)
But the room I kept returning to, that made my heart give a little pitty pat, was my kitchen.
Bob was 20 then, and- like all young men- ravenous. And I liked to cook. We were pretty broke, but beans and rice and dubious rolls of hamburger and cabbage and spaghetti could make some pretty good meals. You could get boxes of bacon "ends and pieces"--mostly fat, but they flavored a lot. I had a new husband to cook for, and sometimes friends, and had my parents come up for Thanksgiving dinner in *our* home.
And it's still a fine little kitchen. When the Village was built 50+ years ago, it was assumed that the occupants would cook. There is a full-size fridge, and a double sink, and some counter space. Heck--it's not much smaller than the one at Rob and Jeff's house. And it's much bigger than some I've seen in the modern "luxury" apartments--the ones I call half-assed kitchens because they're only big enough to get half your ass into them. A half-sized fridge and a microwave and that's about it. Not the center of a home.
I wish we could have stayed a little longer. I would have liked to cook another dinner in there. I could still live there for awhile, until all our stuff and cats caught up with us. I laugh because the little cottage that I use for my studio is about the same size of this apartment.
I could sigh, and say "we were happy then." We were--but we're also happy now, with a house and a cottage and a big barn full of too much stuff, and cats and chickens and peacocks and other assorted creatures, and the detritus of many hobbies scattered around. It's been a long time since that little apartment.
I still like that kitchen.