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Rigors of apartment life balanced out by luxuries

By H.G. Miller

H.G.MillerOK, you took an introductory course in psychology, learned all about personal space and realized that the two and a half feet you were getting in the dorms just wasn´t healthy.

So, you got a job, begged mom and dad, sold a lot of plasma, whatever — you now have an apartment to call your own. Independence, a bedroom door and a freezer full of microwave dinners are all yours.


Now, it´s time to face reality. Like all relationships, things have changed. What was once a friendly alcove of personal expression now has become a security-deposit gone forever.

Remember moving in? It was summer, everything was warm and the off-white walls seemed to beg for you to adorn them with posters from obscure movies and rock bands that nobody had heard of yet. But now, the winds have changed. The heater doesn´t seem to be working, and the frigid air reeks of water damage from the lack of proper drainage system.

I know, the landlord wined and dined you during the courting period. He took you by the hand, made sure you met the sunbathers at the pool and showed you the nicest apartment in the whole complex, somehow gliding past the fact that nobody seemed to actually live there.

Unfortunately, the honeymoon has ended. Unreturned phone calls and empty promises are all that seem to come from the mystical building called “Office.” Like a relationship that has soured, the landlord has chosen to ignore your pleadings in hopes that you´ll take the hint and just go away.

Sometimes, you do get lucky, and somebody will come by to fix something. Usually, these repairmen have been thoroughly trained in the ways of fixing apartment mishaps.

You too can have this advanced training. Pay attention and take notes. Caulk fixes everything. That´s it. That´s all you need to know.

“But it´s a garbage disposal,” you might say.

“Yes,” he´ll reply with a smile, applying the second coat.

Luckily, you are not alone in this predicament. Your neighbors share in the pain, as long as you´re not the cause of it. The bond between neighbors sometimes borders on open warfare, with only an unspoken peace treaty. You keep your music down, and I´ll do likewise.

Apparently, I´ve found, not everybody wants to wake up to screaming heavy metal in the morning. Personally, I need something I can jam to if I´m even going to get out of bed. However, retaliation for my habit came in the form of country twang vibrating through the floor. OK, OK. I give, guys. Uncle. You win.

Because of the thin walls of many apartment complexes, you may find that you learn more about your neighbors than you probably should. For example, I´m not exactly sure what religion the people next door follow, I just know it has something to do with sacrificing small woodland creatures.

My neighbors upstairs seem to have a healthy relationship. I just wish that when I´m trying to sleep, they wouldn´t express how happy they are as often as the they do.

All of this, though, is mere triviality when compared to the miseries of communal living.

It´s a private audience when I sing in the shower now. That´s my couch with the 1970s-style brown-on-brown plaid print. That´s my toaster with only one slot functioning. Those are my pet roaches.

I can dance around the apartment as naked as I want to now. OK, so I´ve got to remember to close the blinds next time, but that´s it.

Sure, the faucet drips and the stove doesn´t really “heat” things so to speak, but stuff like that just makes life interesting. Multi-colored stains on the carpet and holes in the wall all add character to a place.

And, yes, while I do have a roommate with whom I share the great experience of bachelor living, I have decided not to mention anything about him. After all, he does read the Kansan, and those are problems I don´t need.

H.G. MIller is a Hutchinson senior in English.



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