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Memories of My First Apartment

I never saw any roaches or mice in my first apartment, not that I didn’t deserve them.

After a very brief search for my first apartment I settled on Country Club Apartments, mostly due to their proximity to Pizza Inn. My former boss at Grandy’s migrated from the chicken business to the pizza business, and for a titillating offer of $5/hour, I did as well. After suffering a panic attack by seeing just how small a studio apartment really was, I was up-sold a one-bedroom model for $300/month, exactly one half of my new monthly salary. Back then, half my monthly salary covered rent, electricity, A/C, and basic cable. The other half went toward car insurance, gas, and Taco Bell.

It was an upstairs apartment. My downstairs neighbor was a little old lady who lived alone. Sometimes when I was coming or going I would see her standing outside on her porch, watering her hanging plants. She gave me a pie once. I can’t remember what she looked like, but I remember the pie was pretty good. I don’t remember ever seeing our next door neighbor.

The apartment had a living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.

I only mention the kitchen and dining room first because I have the least to say about them. The kitchen was home to a refrigerator full of condiments and cookie dough. We also had a donated microwave with a broken door latch. While cooking, the microwave’s door was held closed with a piece of duct tape. On the stove sat a deep dish pizza pan on permanent loan from Pizza Hut that was perfect for cooking Ramen noodles if you smashed them up into a million little pieces first. I don’t remember the dining room at all. I don’t even remember if I had a dining room table. If I did, it was only used as a place to stack empty pizza boxes.

The living room was mostly functional and practical with only two things hanging on the wall: a big clock I stole from a school, and a framed poster of a soap bubble on a fork by Julius Friedman acquired from a trash dumpster. Against the back wall sat a couch that folded out into a bed and faced the front window. The front window was blocked by an entertainment center built from planks of wood and randomly colored milk crates stolen from convenience stores before they all had cameras ’round back. The entertainment center was home to a 13″ color television, a VCR, and an original Nintendo. In the corner of the living room was my computer desk. We broke the side off the desk moving it in and it creaked and cracked every time you walked past it. Eventually my friend Andy came over with his drill and, like a killer in a bad horror movie, drove screws into its side until it refused to talk.

Speaking of Andy, after living in the apartment alone for two or three months he moved in with me. He slept on the fold out couch while I slept on the mattress on the floor of the bedroom. Andy worked the day shift at Pizza Hut and I worked the evening shift at Pizza Inn so sometimes we didn’t see one another until midnight. If I didn’t bring home pizza for dinner the two of us would go to the Kettle for eggs and bacon and nachos. Then Andy would leave for UPS (he loaded trucks there from 3am-6pm) and we would do it again the next day.

The day Andy moved in I told him not to bother setting his car alarm. Gangs of kids on bicycles would ride through the parking lot, kicking every car just to see which ones made noise. If you reset the alarm, they would do it again. Eventually I quit setting my alarm. After someone stole my stereo, I quit locking the doors altogether.

Jeff, being friends with both myself and Andy, visited a lot during those days. The three of us would often wander over to Kaleidoscope video next door and rent movies or Nintendo games. The three of us would watch bad kung-fu and horror movies and play Nintendo games until it was time for Andy to go to UPS at 3am, and sometimes Jeff and I would still be up playing games when the sun came up and Andy came back home at 6am. Sometimes we would go out for breakfast and sometimes we wouldn’t. Mostly it depended on whether or not there were any slices of pizza left in the fridge. Or on the floor.

Country Club Apartments were two minutes away from where I worked. A few months later I got transferred to the Pizza Inn off of 48th and MacArthur, a twenty minute drive from the apartment. Later I moved to the store off of 23rd and Villa, fifteen minutes away. My gasoline expenses went up and the whole point of renting an apartment near 59th and May dissolved.

Eventually we decided to give up the apartment. Andy moved his stuff back home and I did the same. I left two or three moving boxes full of stuff in the apartment over the weekend as our lease didn’t expire until Monday. When I showed up Monday morning to retrieve them, the locks to the apartment had already been changed. The landlord eventually let me in to look around but the boxes were long gone. The landlord told me to talk to the maintenance man. The maintenance man told me to talk to the cleaning company. Nobody at the cleaning company spoke English. Then the apartment complex kept my deposit. They literally charged me to throw my own stuff away. What upsets me the most is I know one of those assholes probably has that framed picture of a soap bubble on a fork hanging in their home.

That old apartment’s not ten minutes from where I work now. Occasionally while out to lunch I would drive my co-workers past that old apartment and show them where I used to live. The last time I did it I was afraid for my life. Half of the apartment windows have been busted out and replaced with cardboard, wood, or tape. Tenants, like prisoners patrolling their cell block, looked down on us from above like the outsiders we were. And make no mistake, we did not belong there; my car’s lack of dents and broken glass gave us away.

In February of this year, several suspects were involved in five separate beatings and robberies. The suspects were tracked down and arrested at Country Club Apartments. A week later, another resident was randomly stabbed. Last month, a cab driver was shot to death on the corner of 59th and Agnew. Last month, a twelve-year-old boy was shot while riding his bike in a drive by at 59th and May.

Over the weekend, a 22-year-old man beat his girlfriend to death in Country Club Apartments.

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1 comment to Memories of My First Apartment

  • Great article! Reminds me of my days living in Daytona Beach. I have a terrible story about apartment and roaches. So don’t read this if you are eating:

    I was studying for an exam one morning and eating Frosted Mini-Wheats. Just scooping up a spoonful of wheats and chomping it down while reading. When I stopped mid-scoop and looked down at my spoon. I noticed a giant dead cockroach (known there as the Florida woods cockroach, or palmetto bug, a large species of cockroach which typically grows to a length of 30–40 mm. ) that was on my spoon. I was about to eat it! I screamed and ran away from the living room.

    I stopped eating Frosted mini-wheats for 10 years after that.