Six years ago I confirmed the rental of a glorious apartment on the top floor of a historic building in the middle of what I consider to be the best neighborhood in Portland.
The rental of this apartment was like a triumph, the culmination of a year’s worth of planning and searching for all the accouterments of a new life in a new city. When people came over they marveled at the original oak floors, the glass knobs on the doors and cabinets, the strange call box that looked like a rotary telephone. We stored our spices in what had been the built-in cold closet. The bathroom featured hexagonal tile floors and the bathtub was massive.
The realities of keeping a building like this going are not for the faint hearted. Historic building also meant historic plumbing, and it was not uncommon to see a sign in the foyer announcing water would be shut off from 10-4 while the plumbers fixed some problem or other. There were additional problems — those of insulation, drywall integrity and vermin infestation — that slowly presented themselves over the years. Problems were fixed quickly, but they were numerous.
There was also the issue of space. A studio is fine for a person and her cat, but it’s less fine for a person and her cat and her partner, who post-graduate school had come to live full time. And even that wasn’t too bad — we’re fairly compact — but the inability to entertain or have guests of any kind was a bit wearisome.
My office was also the living room, which meant whenever anyone was around I was unable to get any work done, which can only go on for so long.
A few weeks ago we packed up the entire household and moved down the road into what my Mom called a rooming house. Much different but probably much better suited to our lives right now. And it means we get a yard, a fire pit, a BBQ grill, a hammock, chickens, WINDOW BOXES (!), and all sorts of other little perks that come from having multiple people lending a hand. Help with dishes. Help with the washing of house laundry. A washer and dryer. AND a dishwasher.
The best thing about it right now is the renewal of a lifelong habit of sitting outside in the mornings with a cup of coffee. To start every day outdoors listening to birds and drawing a few sleepy ideas is my idea of paradise. And now I have it every morning, just out the back door.