My apartment and I did not get off to a good start. When I saw the brief yet descriptive Craigslist ad, complete with photographs reminiscent of vampire dens or torture chambers, I definitely wasn't expecting to fall madly in love. Far from. If I learned one thing from this experience, it's that people can take damn good pictures of apartments. High angles, low angles, wide lens shots, panoramic views--all of them so deceiving, much like the infamous MySpace pic. But all New York apartments have the same thing in common--they're either much smaller in person, Standing-room-only status, or they break the bank.
I approached thus apartment with the awkward first date mentality. It was only four blocks away from The Compound, where I was staying in between apartments, so I left five minutes before my appointment with the rather handsome real estate agent. We shook hands, and I followed him up the crumbled stairs of a beautifully beat down brownstone building. I did a double take. I kind of fell in loved with this building at first sight. It was definitely Victorian with original accents. I took a few pictures of the front as I noticed the realtor still trying to unlock the door. We played with the lock for fifteen minutes. It was not meant to be, I thought to myself as he continued to call his boss. Cats began to congregate at my feet as some sick sign the universe was sending to me to stay a little longer.
Finally, we managed to open the door to a stunningly grungy, BUT original staircase with side panelling and an oxidized silver mirror overseeing the entrance from the top of the staircase. 10 points, 10 points, 10 points. I kept telling myself to stop falling so fast. I didn't even see the apartment yet. We stepped to the right of the stairs and down a narrow hallway to a small door. This was it, the moment of truth. The door opened and my nostrils quickly filled with the smell of an uncleaned litter box and I was yet again greeted by two cats. As I looked up and into the apartment, or more like studio, but let's be a little more honest and say room, there she was: my Lady in Red.
When I say Lady in Red I'm not exaggerating. I was greeted by a giant fourteen-foot fire engine red wall and then yet another red wall to my right. And once the door was closed, I realized the doors were painted red too. And the kitchen. Interior design fail to my left and to my right! This poor, poor apartment. But the harder I looked, the more I realized how amazing this place was with its original tin ceilings and borders and built-in bookshelf and tall windows and exposed pipes and a vine covered wall and tall tree right outside my window. This was something I could work with. So it was an immediate yes.
Jessy and I spent the entire day cleaning: three hours of bathroom floor scrubbing, two additional hours of bathroom purification, a lot of Beyonce and sweatpants action, and God knows how long scrubbing the fridge. The first night in my apartment, I slept on a twin-sized air mattress in a sleeping bag on the newly cleaned floor of MY apartment. Embarrassingly enough, I was too scared to sleep with the lights off, so I kept the kitchen light on and a night light on across the room. I fell onto my bed and zipped up my sleeping bag and looked around the room. Somehow, all by myself, in a little red studio in the middle of Bed-Stuy, I felt safe. I felt at peace. And I knew that at this very moment, the first night sleeping by myself in over three years, I was going to be okay. As long as I painted over these red walls!