Our first apartment was small, so small that when my great aunt was visiting, she called it a hovel. It was perhaps hovel-ish but it was the first home my husband and I created together and we loved it.
From the big, shiny, black bags of garbage hanging out the neighbor’s window visible from our balcony to our pink carpet stained with sticky dark spots, we thought it was perfect. Because it was ours.
Those garbage bags held the contents from weekly fiestas that took place in our neighbor’s front yard. Fiestas that happened every Sunday where family and friends would gather and eat delicious smelling food under twinkling Christmas lights while laughing and listening to Ranchera music. Although, we didn’t speak much Spanish and they didn’t speak much English, we always exchanged smiles.
The stains on the carpet, evidence of countless walks on the beach where we played in tide pools and watched dolphins. The tar in the sand would stick to our heels and balls of our feet only coming off after a thorough scrubbing with Goo Gone which caused stains in our tub too.
The tub was across from our closet, our one closet. And once, we broke our window after yelling at naughty raccoons rummaging in the garbage. But that weird high up window that didn’t seem to have much of a purpose was a glorious frame when the full moon hung high in the sky.
There was no dishwasher. And no washer and dryer so we spent many nights trying to get to the good dryers before other customers beat us to it.
When I think back to our first apartment, I am filled with gratitude for all of it. The imperfections, mostly the imperfections, because that is what made it unique and colorful. To us, it was perfect just the way it was. Because it was ours.