The summer before last, when I was up in New York for my annual summer visit, Shannon and I drove past one of my old apartments in Troy, and I made her stop so I could take a picture. I had been thinking it might be fun to start posting photos of my past (that is, pre-blog) life here at some point, so I decided to grab a photo while I was in the neighborhood. It was almost six months later that I posted my first Wayback Wednesday post based off that idea – and yet somehow, a whole ‘nother year has passed and I still haven’t posted the photo that started it all.
And so, here it is:
This was my second post-college apartment, where I moved with Wendy and Marlene in the summer of 1994. I broke the lease on my first apartment to move in with them because this place was so cheap that even with the penalties I incurred I was still saving a ton of money. And by “so cheap” I mean: we paid less than $200 per month, each. For a three-bedroom apartment.
It will come as no surprise then, when I say the neighborhood was dicey. When I would tell people where I lived, they’d say, “Really? By the crack park?” Oh yes, really – on at least a couple of occasions I opted to drive around the block a few times before parking rather than interrupt the drug deal taking place on my front porch. (Though in defense of my ‘hood, I was double-shifting retail and waitressing gigs, which routinely got me home after midnight – it’s not like this was typical daytime activity or anything.)
In addition to perhaps being on the wrong side of the tracks, it was also a strange apartment. My bedroom (the top-floor window to the right of the alley) was so small it allowed only two feet of clearance around my full-size bed, not even enough room to open the closet door. I don’t really remember where I kept my clothes, since I don’t think my bureau fit either, but… well, it was a long time ago. The living room was all in shades of sea-foam green – carpet, walls, flowery drapes. There was, initially, no shower – just a giant claw-footed tub (to this day the best tub I ever had) – though our landlady did eventually install a shower head and wraparound shower curtain.
When I think about it now, I remember it as being dirty, not because we didn’t keep it clean, because we (mostly) did, but because it had an air of decrepitness and despair about it, in that way badly maintained older buildings often do. It was somewhere I wanted to make better – I even cut up some of the carpet at one point with an eye to fixing up the wood floors – but I lacked the resources (both money and knowledge) to do so.
As I’ve been writing this and briefly describing just the apartment and the neighborhood – not my life there – it has occurred to me why it’s taken a year and a half to share this photo: I have a lot (a. lot.) of emotions tied up in that place. It was everything that is awesome and awful about being 23 and learning to be an adult. Any memories I could share here would hardly even begin to tell the story.
But if I could spend about a week sitting on the floor drinking cheap wine and listening to “Exile in Guyville” on repeat, I could probably do it justice.
Random note: every time I attempted to type 1994 in this post, it came out 1194. It’s as if my subconscious considers this apartment so far in the dark recesses of the past that it might as well be in the Middle Ages.
Also: Strangely enough, the building looks neither more nor less crappy in this photo from 2010 than it did back in 1994. Wonder why that is?