A Home to Call Her Own
Too expensive, too far of a commute, in too sketchy of a neighborhood… For each blurb she saw the advertised apartment had one of those complaints, or something similar, wrong with it. Was she being too picky? If so she needed to stop because she was running out of time. In exactly 14 days she would graduate from college and be kicked out of the dorm leaving her homeless. Sure, if any of her friends' families found out they would undoubtedly offer her a place to stay, just like they did every year at Christmas and in the summer, but Andromeda Clank wanted a place of her own.
She wanted somewhere she could call home, something she hadn't had since her parents died when she was three. Growing up in the foster system she had had many "homes" but they were never really her home. They were her foster parents' homes, her foster siblings' homes, but they were never really, truly hers. She was never in one long enough for that sort of connection, her longest stay was six months when she was 17 but that ended when she turned 18 and was kicked out of the system and, subsequently, the house. That had led to the first time she stayed with one of her friends' families, finishing high school from her best friend's basement couch. She refused to start her life after college the same way.
Widen the search parameters- that's what she needed to do. Maybe some of these places weren't really in too sketchy of neighborhoods? She could survive in rougher areas; many of her foster homes had been in neighborhoods akin to the ones she was ruling out. So what if she was a young, white female who would be living alone? She was also an active participant in Mixed Martial Arts and could defend herself better than most of the guys she knew.
Frustrated, Andi looked through the collection of ads that had piled up on her school supplied dorm desk once more, this time not ruling anything out based on the area it was in. When she was done she had found four apartments that she was interested in visiting. All four of her options were small, two of them didn't even have a separate bedroom, but they were plenty large enough for her.
Over the course of the next week Andi visited three of the apartments, barely finding the time between work and exams and MMA sessions. She had hoped that the first one she visited would be the nicest since it was the most expensive of the four but in reality it was highly overpriced. It was in a dingy, dilapidated little building and she swore that the du-op group on the floor below was really a drug dealing gang. The second apartment was across the street and really not much better. The third option was nice and really safe since it was right next to a police station, but it was also really loud because on the other side was a fire station and Andi just wasn't sure that she wanted to get woken up by sirens at all hours of the night.
It was Tuesday afternoon, six days before graduation, when she finally got the chance to visit the fourth and final result of her search. Andi desperately hoped that she liked this apartment better than her other dismal options. She got off the city bus a block away and was relieved to not feel the least bit threatened by her surroundings as she journeyed down the cracked sidewalk to the building. The faces were friendly and the houses, despite the neighborhood's poor reputation, were well kept. Andi let herself smile when she reached her destination; she had a good feeling about this place already.
It was picturesque. Neat little flower boxes hung below the windows and ivy decorated trellises leaned against the historic looking brick apartment building. Flower pots sat at the base of the stone stoop, more vines growing from them onto the wrought iron railings. Andi admired the decorative plant life as she walked up the steps and pulled open the heavy wooden door by its antique looking brass handle.
When she entered the lobby the friendly face of the middle aged landlady waited for her since she had called ahead.
"Hi, I'm Andi Clank, I called yesterday about the available apartment," Andi introduced herself, extending her hand which the woman kindly shook.
"Hi, I'm Gloria Gilson, my husband and I own and manage this place. I hope you don't mind stairs, the empty apartment is on the third floor and the lift hasn't worked in nearly a decade," the woman told her cheerily as she led Andi through the building, past the broken elevator, to the aforementioned staircase.
"Stairs are no problem, I usually take them most of the time anyways, even when there is a working elevator," Andi replied. She definitely liked the feel of this building.
The interior was just as historic looking as the exterior. Dark hardwood floors in the halls and matching baseboard and doors contrasted against cream and gold pinstriped walls. The stairs were the same wood as the floors with brass decorations on the twisting wrought iron banisters.
"You look pretty young. Just finishin' college?" Gloria asked as they reached the third floor landing.
"Yeah, I'm graduating from Yale next weekend."
"What did you study?"
"History and archeology."
"You'll love this buildin' then. It was built in 1918 as a boarding house for factory employees by a company that went down the drain a year later. After that it was a hospital for local boys home from WWI. In the mid 20's it became an apartment building and has been in my family ever since. The room that houses our laundry facilities was used by my grandpa as a speakeasy during prohibition. My husband and I are still finding all sorts of remnants of the building's past every time we clean the basement or make a renovation."
"That's wicked interesting. I like how you've tried to keep the historic look on both the outside and the inside."
Gloria paused at a door and took out a key, "Here we are, 13 C, go ahead and poke around. It's not big but it's plenty of room for one person."
Andi looked around the tiny, one room, pre-furnished apartment. Its light yellow walls were dirty with age and pealing, the ceiling had some small cracks forming, and the layout was very cramped but she could live with that. Some new paint and some spackle could easily fix the walls and ceiling and, since it would only be her, the lack of space wouldn't be a problem, it was more than she was accustomed to really. She could easily picture herself living here; her books filling the bookcases that lined one wall, her laptop sleeping on the desk, piles of papers and magazines and half read books scattered around the room… It was perfect.
"The price on the ad is still the correct price, right?" Andi eagerly asked with a grin on her face.
"Yes, it is. Are you interested?"
"If I pay the first month's rent now, can I move in on Saturday?"
A week later, the day before graduation, Andi piled her limited belongings into her friend's slightly rusted station wagon. They, with her friend's parents, drove to the building and carried her stuff up the three flights of stairs; it only took them three trips each.
"It's a good thing you have so little stuff," the dad joked as the family prepared to leave, "I don't think I could have handled another trip up all these stairs- I'm gettin' old."
"You're not old dear, you're only 50 to my 51," the mother teased him before turning to Andi. "Are you sure you have everything you need? Dishes? The right size sheets? The location of the nearest Wal-Mart?"
Andi chuckled at the last question as she nodded.
"Well, if you're sure. Don't forget, we're always here for you if you need anything," she hugged Andi one last time before turning and exiting out the door.
A few minutes later Andi watched out the window of the apartment as her friend and her friend's parents pulled away. Then she turned and surveyed the scene around her. Boxes littered the floor; some were piled at the foot of the bed, others in the kitchen area, and the few that she knew housed her books were near the bookcases. An excited smile crept onto her face as she started to unpack the closest box. She finally had a home.