Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Story of the Litter Box Apartment and the Nasty-Asty House

The weekend that the kids and I went to Arkansas with Betsy, I drove past the first house that Jon and I lived in after we were married. I told the kids why that house was significant. Oh, the memories of that first few months.

During the Spring semester that Jon and I were engaged we were both living in apartments with our roommates. We were planning on being married 2 weeks after graduation and moving back to Searcy, so we decided to start looking for a place where we could start our married life together.

We initially found a great townhouse, and were so excited about getting some paperwork together so we could sign a lease. We told the manager that we needed to call our parents to get some of the required documents together and we would be back in an hour to sign. He said that would be fine, but when we came back ready he said he had just leased the apartment out to the couple who had just left the office. We were so upset, but he told us that he had one more just like it. We asked to see it, but he told us that someone had just moved out and it was being cleaned; we could see it later.

When we came the next day, we walked in and were hit in the face with the pungent mix of cleaners and cat pee. We figured it just needed to air out some, so we started bringing loads of our things so we could get things ready before we left for the wedding. I started cleaning, trying to get the smell out, but it was disgusting. Jon's allergic to cat's, and it was so bad that after spending one night his eyes were swollen and itchy in the morning. We bought a black light, and were DISGUSTED to see all the spots that revealed themselves under the light. Our friend Michelle and I spent hours on our hands and knees trying to clean each spot with professional strength solvents, hoping the smell would go away.

We finally decided that no amount of cleaning would ever allow the apartment to smell bearable, so I started looking for a rent house in the area. Now we were really on a time crunch--only a few days to find a place, move our stuff, and get Jon graduated. I found a house that I thought was so cute from the outside (cute through the eyes of a love-sick college girl who was sick of living in dorms and apartments). I called Jon and told him I found a place we should look at, so we called the number on the sign and planned to meet at the house. As we rode the the house, I said the words that will live in infamy in our house... I told Jon, "Now, when we get there, don't judge it right away. It's such a cute house." Ahhh, if I could only take those back!!

We looked at the house, and I'm sure we decided to rent it because (1) we were desperate, and (2) Jon didn't want to tell me no. We spent a day re-moving all the things we had already moved to the Litter Box Apartment over to the house. Jon graduated, then we headed home for 2 weeks to get ready for our wedding and honeymoon.

We came "home" nearly a month later and began the process of going through all the furniture and clothes and shower gifts we had crammed in our hurry. Thus began the adventure. The first night we arrived after a long trip from Michigan, then couldn't even find the sheets we had been given--we gave up and went to a hotel.

After that we spent the summer battling ant trails on the counters and floors, scorching temperatures that the piddly little window air conditioners couldn't tame, and hanging all our washed clothes up to dry because we were too broke to replace the dryer that broke.

That winter was even more insane...the whole house only had one little wall-hung propane heater. We spent our entire first winter freezing and shivering. We hung blankets over the doorways trying to keep warm air in. We bought electric space heaters. We taped our favorite shows on tapes (this was before Tivo!), then went to hang out at Walmart because it was warm there. Then we'd come back after our shows were over, quickly make some macaroni and cheese, then watch our shows back in the bedroom--with the space heaters and the electric blanket on.

I bought a thermometer, just so I could know how much cold we were enduring. One morning I woke up and it said 37 degrees. INSIDE the house! After one of us took a warm shower, we could get out and the entire house would have a thick 5-foot fog from the ceiling. It was insane.

Another "side effect" of the house, that we weren't even completely aware of, was that at least once a month during the entire 8 months we lived there I was sick and had to go to the doctor. We never knew it had anything to do with the house. One day, though, I decided to start packing up some of our books and things. We had about 3 weeks before our lease was up so I was going to get ahead on some of the stuff we didn't use very much. When I cleared a bookshelf and took it away from the wall, that entire area of wall was covered with black mold. As I moved more and more things, I discovered that the inside of every exterior wall was covered in black mold. We decided to move immediately.

The first night in our new apartment (literally, it was less than a year old) we laid in bed looking at the ceiling. We heard the heat kick on, and we both sighed in relief. It felt like we were living in the nicest hotel in town. It was amazing.

Our first 9 months of marriage were definitely filled with some interesting housing situations. That's not to say that we didn't have an amazing first year. In spite of the heat and the cold, the bugs and the mess, my memories are also filled with family and friends, games and fun. Those months held my graduation from grad school, our first Christmas, our first three pets, and a lot of other laughs and great memories. So many that I could never actually write them all down. The crazy stories about the apartment and the house just make for a lot of laughs and funny stories now. That's just part of our history. It's part of how our story started.

Even if it was a Nasty-Asty House.

No comments: