My book The Portland House: A 70's Memoir is just a tad more than three months from being released. While that house was instrumental in forming our family, I have lived in about eight other places since then and I thought it would be fun to recount some of these places -as they were as unique from each other and, collectively were as much a part of my life as Portland.
The first place was my first "real" apartment at 7610 Bass Lake Road in Crystal, Minnesota. After I got my first job out of college at a mapping firm in Crystal, a guy I worked with talked me into moving in with him in 1985. I forget what rent was, maybe $375/mo. for each of us. I didn't know Dan too well, but he seemed decent enough, so I took the plunge and moved out of Portland to be closer to work.
Well, the place interviewed much better than it performed. (Like a bad pet.) The worst part was during the winter months. We had one thermostat for the whole 2 BR place, so if I shut my bedroom door at night, it got frosty in my room. I mean nose-nipping cold. Being my first place of my own, I was a fairly private person, so didn't like leaving it open. So, frosty it was.
It was a brutal winter, like most in Minnesota. At one point the pipes in the apartment above us froze because the walls were poorly insulated. So the caretaker of the apartment who lived above us took it upon himself to bust a hole in our wall near the ceiling so he could take a blow torch to the pipes to thaw them out.
This seemed a bit extreme to me as a first time renter.
Anyways, because this caretaker was also an alcoholic slacker, the hole was never fixed (at least not before I moved out the following March).
So, around the holidays we did what most bachelors would do. We strung lights up into the hole for our Christmas bash. I remember one guy commenting that in many countries they would call what we did "Art".
The place was scantily furnished. I know we used my roommate's drafting table as a kitchen table with the intention of upgrading someday. There was a couch and a couple chairs, his TV and my stereo system. I had a twin bed, bookcase and desk and chair. You don't need much more than all of that at that age. Mom gave me some hand me down dishes and silverware, so we made it work.
I remember vividly being home alone near the holidays and shutting the lights out except the Christmas lights, listening to REM and thinking, I made it. I finally got a job in my field and now my own place. I'm living the dream.
Well, none of it lasted very long. Within 6 months of moving in, my roommate decided he was moving to California and we would have to break lease. This meant losing my security deposit as well as needing to find a new place to live. I've never forgiven the guy for that - nor have I heard from him.
But no one ever forgets their first apartment or dorm and we did have a couple of pretty good kickin' parties there, I'll give the place that. But it was still just a small step above government housing - we had bugs in the bathroom and, well, the thermostat/pipe thing I mentioned. So it was nothing great, but it gave me a taste of life on my own. It also made me never want to have to move back home.
Next time - where I landed after my roommate abandonment.