A New Lease on Small Time Living

It’s just 475 square feet. “I like it!” my 12-year old nephew said when he saw our new apartment for the first time. “You can’t put too many people in it. And it smells like fried chicken.” he added. Ethan lives in a four-generation household so he appreciates small spaces…and apparently the smell of good food, though that credit goes to our neighbor.

I share Ethan’s sentiment. I love the fact that our new space is small. It is exactly what we wanted (on the inside) but the exact opposite of anything we would ever have picked in location.

Living Room
Angie calls this our “grown up” furniture.

The apartment is in a low-rise building that was constructed in 1965. My grandparents once lived just a block away where they witnessed the building’s decline from upscale to a place no decent person would have chosen to live. I wish they could see it now. Still a work in progress, the new owners have systematically gutted and updated the apartments with laminate and tile flooring, new carpets, Kohler faucets, upgraded light fixtures, walk-in closets, a glass backsplash, and more. Fancy! But without the fancy price. Why? Because it lacks a few amenities (like a dishwasher) and the location is still on the wrong side of the tracks – literally!

Kitchen 3
My favorite find – a vintage 1970s metal tea cart!

As I’m typing this, it is just about time for the morning train to come rumbling by just 50 feet from our bedroom window. Later, another will come, carrying coal to TVA’s steam plant. The trains don’t bother me though. I’d love to be able to look out the window and see them go by but I can’t get past the garbage next door. (There’s a pick-up truck filled with bags of trash sitting between our window and the train track.) Like I said, the inside of our apartment might be nice but the outside isn’t.

For as much as I like the interior view, I also enjoy seeing the sunshine, the clouds, or even the rain dancing on the sidewalks, and right now, I don’t even like to open the blinds. It’s not just the garbage though. It seems that every single person here (every single person in this state for that matter) smokes. Since our lease prohibits smoking inside, all of our smoking neighbors hang out in the breezeway. And then there’s Larry. He lives next door and paces in front of our living room window holding his Pomeranian. We’re not much for being on display so the blinds stay shut.

If I learned nothing else from our summer misadventure, it was that – good, bad, or indifferent – nothing last forever and there’s no point in obsessing over the small things that annoy you – like Larry. Our apartment is a quiet place to work. It is a warm and cozy place to read, watch TV, or take a nice long nap. It’s a good place to make a pizza or a batch of homemade cookies. It’s home – at least for the next 12 months – and though we might not be able to look out the window to find the bright side, I know that there is one.

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