(from Mazucca City #2)
I found an ad in the paper for an available apartment in the city’s downtown core. Actually, I couldn’t have been located further downtown, since the spot I checked out and eventually rented was above a well-known men’s clothing store a few doors up from downtown’s busiest shopping street. It was also close to the bars which I considered to be a great advantage. No more late night cab rides home. Bonus!
The apartment was owned and operated by a real estate business who managed several private and commercial properties in and around the city. Their office where I was to pay my rent each month, was located directly across the street from my new apartment which made dropping off rent cheques a breeze. It also presented easy access to my doorbell on those occasions when I may have been late on a payment. On at least one occasion, I sat quietly on the couch as the property’s office manager rang the bell and knocked on the door calling my name. There are some things I don’t miss about the good old days and hiding from my landlord as an inexperienced, naïve tenant is certainly something I’m glad I’ve been able to leave behind. Besides, there’s enough to be scared about already. I don’t need to add to the list.
It’s no secret my decision to move into a place on my own was more than a bit ambitious at the time. As an immature, adolescent looking at rent prices, $500 a month seemed like a reasonable price to pay for a good size apartment in the heart of downtown. What I didn’t factor in was the cost of living, paying bills, and transportation to and from work on the city bus, not to mention figuring in my beer and cigarette allowance. After all, as an irresponsible young guy in his early twenties, I had to make room for regular parties, concerts and general social activities associated with having an apartment minutes from the city’s drinking establishments. To make things worse, I invited my girlfriend at the time to come and live with me. Her home life was in shambles and I certainly wanted the company. I figured she might as well come live with me. I mean, that’s what couples do isn’t it? It turns out I should have done a bit more planning before inviting someone in to live with me, share what limited space I had and spend each day in my living space. I wasn’t ready to be a sugar daddy. I never thought to take into account the fact that she did not have a job but had a great appetite, not only for food but also for cigarettes and beer. Who knew? Although I was well aware of her habits, I foolishly expected her to seek immediate employment and enter into the adult world I was beginning to explore. Such was not the case.
Our apartment was on the second floor. Although we were directly above the shops and streets we had both come to know well since childhood, our windows didn’t offer much of a view. Our apartment had a stellar view of the back alley fire escape with its rusted, iron handrail and dilapidated staircase. It made me think that if there ever was a fire, if might be safer to run through the flames instead of trying to navigate those rusty steps. Unknown to me at the time I signed the lease, the top of the fire escape was a popular hangout for underage weekend drinkers, roof top explorers and twenty-something artists types looking for an unusual urban meeting place to drink wine and smoke a little pot.
It was a Friday evening when I discovered for the first time, just how popular our fire escape actually was. We didn’t own curtains and didn’t really feel the need for them at the time. I thought the view of brick wall offered by the living room window was comical and I was proud to display it to guests. In the evening when the room was lit by lamplight, the glare and reflection of the light masked the beautiful view of brick and iron. And since the idea of someone looking in on us through a back alley window at the top of a hidden fire escape had never crossed our minds, you can imagine our shock and surprise when we discovered we were being watched like fish in an aquarium. After hearing soft voices different than those usually heard through the walls, I turned off the light to reveal a crowd of twelve or thirteen punks and oddballs sitting around watching our evening unfold. It wasn’t long after that we purchased a long set of curtains to cover our three sources of natural light.
I eventually fell behind in my bill paying and was forced to start looking for yet another place to live. Although I loved living downtown and having just about everything I could possibly need within a two minute walk from my front door, it was simply too tough trying to make ends meet with a roommate content on riding through life on someone else’s dollar. One of the pitfalls of young, ignorant love is that you often find yourself in situations where you’re afraid to offend your partner by speaking honestly. In my case, I wanted nothing more than for her to find a job of any sort to help offset our expenses. There were times when I was so upset that I’d go out for long walks to relax instead of addressing the issue. I did this on several occasions. After several blocks, I usually calmed down and forgot just how upset I was. Sadly, not addressing the issue also meant that things weren’t going to change and because of that, we had to move.
Our move was the tenant version of the dine-n-dash, also called the chew-n-screw. We organised a ride and moved our entire apartment on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Our destination – The North Side.