Keep the Home Fires Burning…But Not Literally

Most people rent their first “grown up apartment” when they are in their early 20’s – after college, once they’re on their own.

Me? It took me a little longer.

I rented my first “grown up apartment” on January 5, 2012, when I was 32 years old.

Until that point, I’d lived in a parsonage [well, many different parsonages] for my entire adult life.

But on that freezing cold day in January, I picked up the keys to 102 South West St, Apartment 5. And it was mine. No one could tell me that I had to move, what furniture I was or wasn’t allowed to have, what colors to paint the walls, what kinds of towels to buy, or what sorts of “neutral” sheets that I could or couldn’t put on the bed.

Mine.

A place of my own, that I could call home.

When I signed the lease, the landlord asked me how long I thought I’d stay. My answer was simple – forever. I’d moved more than enough for one lifetime.

I didn’t have much furniture – no bed, just a cedar chest, a few folding camp chairs, and a couple of sets of plastic drawers. There was a table in the apartment, but not much else.

But it was mine.

413923_10150623603212432_1391291437_o[the first photo I ever took of my apartment]

I set it up to the best of my budgetary ability, and scrounged up some furniture. Eventually, over the course of four years, I completely re-did the entire thing. It was tiny, but it was a space that I was incredibly proud of.

It was home – the way no other place had been able to be.

12122789_10153654561482432_6695213009453136103_n

[my bed nook, after the big renovation]

I had just finished “the big renovation,” and had enjoyed it for about 6 weeks, when I came home the day after Thanksgiving to a notice taped to my apartment door.

The building had been sold. We all had 30 days to get out.

30 days from the day after Thanksgiving is……you guessed it…..

Christmas.

Merry Christmas to us.

I was absolutely devastated. Aside from the fact that there is basically NOTHING to rent at Christmas time, I was losing my home. My HOME.

There was nothing I could do about it, so, as I’d done so many times before, I packed. And on December 12, 2015, I left 102 South West #5 for the last time.

12375335_10153766604392432_8800795129325037867_o[the last photo I ever took of 102]

Why am I telling you all this now?

Last night, if you live in Carlisle, you probably heard the sirens. You may have smelled the smoke. You may have even, if you were downtown, seen the flames.

102 South West Street caught fire and burned last evening.

My friend Catlin texted me to let me know….and the range of emotions I began to almost immediately feel were wildly varied and, frankly, were a bit overwhelming.

I walked down to the corner – well, as close as they’d let me get…..and saw it for myself. The air was acrid. Caustic.

And it was seriously on fire.

944845_10154082642387432_8449505848757218209_n[102 burning]

The overarching thing I’m feeling right now is deep, deep gratitude.

Gratitude that none of us lived there when it burned – that our families, our pets, and our things were all long gone from the building.

Gratitude for the time I had at 102.

Gratitude for my dear friend Antonia who let me house sit for her while she and her husband are in Spain, giving me time to find another apartment without settling for something awful.

Gratitude for the keys to my new “pub apartment” that I just picked up the other day.

There are some other feelings in there too….sadness to see a building burn in town…..and a pinch of sick, spiteful vengeance toward the jerk who made us all move out at Christmas……

But mostly gratitude.

102 was home.

It will always hold a special place in my heart as my first ‘real’ apartment.

And for that,

I’m exceedingly grateful.

11391417_10153371090012432_6931185526461856776_n

[the door to ‘kapp cottage’]

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