Everything about my move to the East Coast was easy until I got off the shuttle that dropped me off in front of the place I was going to live for a couple months. I walked up to the place and looked for Apartment E. Weird, the apartments were numbered. So I went to apartment 5; E is the fifth letter of the alphabet so they must be one-and-the-same. I knocked. “Uh, yeah?” I heard as the door opened. “I’m Ryan, are you Jared?” I asked. “No, man, sorry.” Hmm, maybe I had the wrong apartment, so I asked “Is there a Jared in the building?” He replied, “I’m not sure, man.”
Well, that’s not good, I thought to myself. As he closed the door, I grabbed my bags and regrouped. I checked my notes: yeah, I had written down 7404 Rhode Island Ave Apt E and I was at Rhode Island Ave Apt 5. There were only six apartments and they were all numbered. Maybe I wrote it down wrong? I checked my text messages and sure enough, the address was 7408 Rhode Island Ave Apt E.
I headed to the apartment building next door. A realization hit me and I literally stopped. I shipped some of my stuff and I used the wrong address! One box had some more clothes, towels, and some other things I wanted to have here with me. The other one had my Xbox 360 and all of its accessories. Oh no! What was going to happen to them? Well, I couldn’t do anything now, I needed to find my apartment and get at least marginally settled.
I walked up the steps to the next apartment building and found my apartment. I knocked and a guy answered, “Are you Jared?” I asked, expecting to have the wrong apartment again. “Yeah.” Oh good, “I’m Ryan,” and I shook his hand.
He showed me my room and settled onto the couch with his laptop. He explained that he was working on something for work, so sorry he couldn’t talk right now. That was okay with me, I was exhausted and I had things I needed to deal with.
I took a look at my room. There was stuff in there from the previous tenant. Jared told me he was supposed to come and get it all in the next few days. It wasn’t much, just some posters and some stuff on the built-in shelves (like four empty bottles of Jack Daniels, collecting dust like trophies). The room was small and it looked like the previous tenant had never vacuumed. The size didn’t bother me, but I knew the dirty floor would.
I had to deal with my mis-addressed boxes, but first I needed to find a store to buy some essentials. I needed some food and I needed some bedding and a pillow for the bed. I hadn’t eaten in over 12 hours, so I needed lunch.
When I came back out of my room, Jared was gone. I decided to take a look at the apartment. The sink was full of dishes that were kind of smelly. The half-bath was pretty clean, the floor was a bit grimy. Upon closer inspection, the toilet seat was completely broken. The floor of the main room also looked like it hadn’t been vacuumed in recent memory. The full bath almost sent me in to shock. The shower was fairly clean, the floor was grimy like the half-bath, but the toilet didn’t even have a toilet seat on it and little black hairs covered the rim and bowl. Gross, gross, gross.
So, I knew what else I had to do. Clean! If I was only here for a couple of weeks, I would have just dealt with it. But I have to live here for two months. I’ll be damned if I was going to let my home stay in that condition.
I prioritized. Google maps said there was shopping center near me, and I was near the University of Maryland campus, so I figured there would probably be everything I needed right there. I walked the six blocks and found a CVS Pharmacy. Ugh. This would be like shopping at Rite-Aid. Oh well, I needed things now. I would find something better later. I bought some cereal, some milk, shampoo, and just a few other essentials. My bath towels were in the box I may never receive so I bought a $15 beach towel. I paid over $50 for a bag-and-a-half of groceries. Dammit.
At this point I realized that I’d forgotten to stop for lunch. There was a deli place in the shopping center. I studied their menu board. Nearly nothing vegetarian. I looked at the guy at the counter, “Can you just make me a veggie sandwich?’ They had a veggie wrap, and that would have to do. The menu said I could substitute fresh fruit for the potato chip side. Great. The fruit even came with yogurt. Finally some calories. I was shaking when I sat down to eat. Have you ever been so hungry that nothing sounded good, that just looking at food made you nauseous? I was that hungry. But, as I ate slowly, I started to feel better.
When I finished, I asked someone if they knew of someplace nearby where I could buy some bedding and a pillow. Apparently there was an Ikea, but it was a few miles away. Just to be safe I asked someone else as I walked home. They said they didn’t think there was anyplace nearby that sold that sort of stuff. Well, I had to familiarize myself with the buses here at some point.
At home I put away my over-priced groceries and looked up bus routes. A bus was scheduled to leave from the shopping center and go right to Ikea in twenty minutes. Great. That was actually easy. Ikea doesn’t have bags, but they will sell you a reusable bag for $0.59. But this bag is huge, the size of a duffel bag. I got bedding and pillows and blankets and some hand towels.
A bus ride home and I unpacked my new stuff. I made my bed and took a shower. I bought a mat for the bathroom so I wouldn’t have to step on the gross floor after I got out :) When I went back to my bedroom, I sat down and realized that I’d only been here for nine hours. I was ready to go home. I called Leah and we talked for a few minutes. That relaxed me enough for me to go to bed.
I had a tough time staying asleep. There was no noise, I just wasn’t home, I just wasn’t with Leah. Once I finally fell into a good sleep, I slept until noon local time. Wow. I don’t know that I’ve ever slept that late. Everything was different this morning (or afternoon, I guess). The table and shelves that cluttered the common area when I first arrived was now nicely set along the walls. That right there made me feel like I wouldn’t be fighting an uphill battle just to keep this place livable. I woke up feeling better about my circumstances. I had a plan for today.
I found a bagel shop close by and had a late breakfast. Then I went to CVS and bought cleaning supplies and garbage bags and toilet paper and paper towels because none of these things could be found in the apartment. I dropped them off at the apartment then headed to the post office. On the way, I saw a sign that said there was a Farmers’ Market on Sundays. And it was only five blocks from my house! I can get produce, double-woot!
The postwoman at the post office could not have been more helpful. She said my mail carrier wasn’t through that office, but she took down my information and said she’d take it by the post office he carried out of on her way home. No guaranty, but there was a good chance I’d get my boxes. Damn, that’s so nice!
The Metro station was right next to the post office so I made a detour and got a reloadable Metro card (which reminds me, I need to register it online and add more money to it).
Once home again, I cleaned. I did those dishes, I cleaned that sink, I cleaned both toilets (I bought cleaning gloves with the cleaning supplies). And I felt better.
But I wasn’t done yet. I had just enough time to get to Ikea and catch the last bus back. I needed some things. There was no actual silverware in the house, only plastic, disposable stuff. So I bought a small pack of silverware and a silverware tray. I bought a trash can because there wasn’t one. I’ll repeat that: there was no trash can in the apartment. I bought some plates and bowls of my own. The crowning jewel of this Ikea adventure: a new toilet seat. Surprisingly expensive. I want it noted that I would normally never shop at a place like Ikea. But they are cheap and they are easy to get to. I’ll offset it the next time I have a chance.
So, tonight, I sit here writing this and I feel much better than last night. The other roommate arrived and he (his name is Eric) and Jared went through and cleaned up some of the stuff. The place still needs vacuuming, and there is no vacuum here. I’ll borrow one from another apartment. I have a headache that I thought a shower would cure, but it is still here. I think it’s just tension (I’ve been clenching my teeth a lot). I’m going to go get a bowl of cereal and meet the people that are out in the common area.
So, I am left with one thought: I can do this. As hard as the first night was, tonight is ten times easier.
Words of encouragement are appreciated, though.