A Dear John Letter To My Sh*tty Apartment

Peace.

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Photo and botany by Jay Mckay Miller.

We met six years ago. I was so innocent then. Willing to fork over any amount of money and apparently climb any number of stairs in order to find an apartment in Brooklyn outside the Hurricane Sandy evacuation zone that was available in two weeks so I could move to town and start a new job. You have three windows, the apartment version of a man bun, so I said yes.

I don’t think I ever really considered you a viable option. It took four years of living here for me to actually nest, to stop thinking of you as temporary. I guess at a certain point I just faced reality. Never mind that your ancient hardwood floors have peeling varnish that splinters into my feet or that it’s abundantly clear the owner of this building elected to paint over dust. You were where I lived. Eventually I accepted that.

I won’t miss your surfaces, none of them even. How many glass bottles of product have met their end in the basin of my sink, for having committed the crime of being set down on something that purported to be a countertop. Why the edges of your kitchen sink are beveled and thus hostile to even a bottle of dish soap, I’ll never know.

Most people don’t know this, but in order for me to sleep in the summer months, I have to place a box fan fully in the doorway of my bedroom, siphoning air from the living room window unit (that old so-and-so) into my bedroom because the bedroom window is the access to my fire escape and thusly not suitable to house such an appliance. It’s been fun bumping into cold, spinning metal in the middle of the night for six years.

It’s as if your homeostasis is dirty. No amount of cleaning, no assistance that can be hired, will ever make you clean. You release dust bunnies from your very bowels, I’m sure of it. How many times have I Swiffered your walls? Your ceilings? Themselves magnets for dust and cobweb of every variety, the origins of their existence unbeknownst to me.

But it’s not all your fault, you had help. The woman below me who greets every fresh, bright morning by sparking up a cigarette and bellowing her wretch-inducing second-hand smoke directly into my open kitchen window, she certainly hasn’t been helping matters.

I’ve remained in place for six years, but the unit I share multiple walls with has been a carousel of twentysomethings, rotating in and out of its two bedrooms with alarming velocity. My favorite have been the young men, so rarely at home, so few cooking smells.

The raised nail in the egress from kitchen to living room, how many pajama pants have fallen victim to its tricks? The unfinished, dagger-like edge of the kitchen cabinetry, so many silken blouses lost to time. And the veggie sprayer! Oh the veggie sprayer. Will I ever forget the time I had to break it to turn it off? Will the cat?

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m done. As I round the corner of my 37th birthday, I’ve come to realize that it’s not me that’s holding me back from the things I want in life—such as even flooring and intelligently placed electrical outlets—it’s you. You are what’s keeping me from greatness, keeping me from safely entering and exiting the shower. It’s not so much that I don’t enjoy washing dishes by hand, it’s just that I know there’s another way, and for once in my life I’m going to pursue it.

So farewell, you relic. You last bastion of un-gutted architecture. Drip water from the ceiling all you want. Don’t bother letting me know when the 1993 Macy’s beige fridge finally gives out—it matters not. The next time a wasp enters the apartment through cracks where the a/c unit was haphazardly installed, I won’t even be around to notice, much less injure myself trying to conduct pest control.

I will be down the road a bit, in the apartment I deserve. I am no longer afraid of pursuing the things I want, and leaving the things I can easily afford behind. I am not afraid to have nice things anymore. I am not climbing four flights of stairs anymore. I am not flushing in reverse anymore. I do not live here anymore. Dwell on that.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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