Our apartment is tiny.
It is barely 600 square feet, with one bedroom and half a closet. Most of the day it is completely dark because no natural light can find its way in past the hedges and neighboring buildings. There is a half hour between 6:30 and 7 where our bedroom floor experiences it’s first and only slats of natural light during the day. Thomas will regularly walk in from a rehearsal and find me curled up in a patch of sunlight that fills the two feet between our bed and the window. I will usually have arranged our succulents in a circle around me so that we can all take advantage of the light. Five of our six indoor plants have died so far and I’m not holding out hope for the last one.
Our kitchen, affectionately called “galley-style” by the realtor, is so narrow that it is nearly impossible for two people to occupy it at once. When you open the dishwasher and the silverware drawer at the same time, they are directly above and beneath one another, which makes unloading the dishes incredibly easy and everything else very difficult. While cooking dinner, I once opened the oven door to pull out a hot dish while Thomas was washing dishes at the sink. It wasn’t until I realized the open oven door was less than an inch from his ankles that I realized the urgency of the situation. “Don’t. Move. A. Muscle,” I whispered, eyes wide with fear. What ensued next was a scene straight out of Indiana Jones: one twitch of Thomas’ calf would have triggered a life-threatening booby trap. I carefully maneuvered the scalding hot metal pan to the stovetop while trying with trembling hands to avoid singeing Thomas’ leg hair. Though Thomas escaped unscathed, I don’t know if either of us have fully recovered.
I was warned that living with a boy was one of the biggest adjustments I’d make when we got married. Somehow though, with Thomas, the transition felt seamless. There are parts of his daily routines that still amuse and confound me: the shower ritual that takes 26 minutes and includes a combination of both standing and sitting with different water temperatures assigned to both, or the desperate cravings he sometimes gets at 11 p.m. to bake and then eat an entire cake. But living with him is easy. We’ve stumbled into dozens of other difficult adjustments since we got married and it has not all been easy or effortless, but even when those hard times happen, Thomas will always the roommate I want to come home and tell all about it.
Because I lived in the dorms for four years, this is my first apartment. It’s the first time I’ve had furniture that wasn’t specially designed to repel liquid, stains, and (presumably) extended lounging. It’s the first time I’ve been able to light a candle without fearing a building-wide fire drill. It’s the first space that really feels like it’s mine to fill with fresh flowers, cutting boards, copper pots, and dying succulents. Even though this first apartment is wildly, comically flawed, I love it. It will always be our first home together. It will be the one I will remember Thomas carrying me across the threshold of at 1 a.m. after driving for 12 hours to get there. It will be the apartment where we learned our first lessons of marriage: how to navigate our own selfishness, how to sacrifice for one another, how to pray together, play together, and calmly discuss the merits of paper towels versus dishrags. It is the first place where we were profoundly confused by each other. It was the first place that we felt truly, deeply known by each other. It will be the apartment where we first began to love each other — not in the way we thought we loved one another while we were dating, but with the vulnerability and intimacy and barefaced rejoicing that only marriage could bring.
Thomas and I regularly discuss the details of next apartment. Since he lived in this one for an entire semester before I arrived, our next home will be the first one we pick out together. We dream of an open floor plan, high ceilings, and huge windows situated in a loft apartment high above the downtown of whichever city we’ll be living in. in this dream, he can bike to work and I can pour a cup of coffee and sit down to write at a huge desk spilling over with natural light. Our demands might be a little steep for our next place or even the one after that. But no matter where we end up moving, this ridiculous, dark, tiny apartment will always be the first home we shared and the beginning of our story together.