I remember passing by the place when I was a kid and thinking it was scary. Such a negative image would come to mind when I would see "Garage Loft" apartments. I always imagined sleeping under an Oldsmobile and breathing in exhaust fumes while getting kicked by a naked hobo with bad breath.
When I was 18, though, I was obsessed with being different than everyone else. I wanted to be a musician. For my art to expand, I needed to suffer. Nobody likes a happy musician. All the best Beatles albums were made once they all grew out their beards, stopped smiling, and started doing drugs. I was ready to get out of the suburbs and suffer in the city with my non-conformist boyfriend and our Rauschenberg paintings.
I imagined these apartments to cost around $200 a month. I mean, there weren't walls or ceilings, so they had to be dirty cheap. When we met the landlady to look at the apartment, she was dressed way too nice and spoke way too well for this to be the suffering ghetto we imagined. She showed us a two-story loft, that was 1600 sq feet, and had two walls of windows. I imagined little emo babies, living in the bedroom at the top of the stairs. There wasn't even a railing, so they'd have the cutest view of the cement floored living room below. It was $2100 a month. We tried to kind of swallow and pretend like that wasn't a big deal, but I think I almost pooped my waitress uniform when she spoke that number. We made less than that in a month, AND we had two other bills. (ha!)
We asked to see a smaller cheaper one, like maybe, the smallest and cheapest one they had. She showed us one that was vacant in the very front. It just seemed so perfect and small, 800 sq feet with floor to ceiling windows and 18 foot ceilings with exposed pipes. We loved it and I could immediately see myself looking out of the windows with the forlorn face I was sure I could eventually have. I'd be listening to Janis Ian and writing my teenage angst to tune of A, C, and D as those were the only chords I could play.
The apartment was $660 a month. That was double what we had budgeted. I have no idea how we got approved. We got two parking spots, that were on the same floor as our apartment. We got to park right beside our door, inside! No more scraping ice off my car and getting my identity stolen! Okay, it wasn't the suffering we thought we'd be doing but it was even better. It was fancy and expensive and we were ready to sell out.
We went antique shopping for furniture since we only had $60. I tried to be tricky/criminal and moved a price tag off a wobbly card table to a butcher block-style coffee table. When we tried to check out, the owner of the place called the booth renter to make sure that $14 was right for this antique wood table. I could hear her screaming through the phone. We played dumb and pretended like we were going to buy it anyway, but oops, I forgot my other $340. It was a little defeating. How could our decor possibly compete with our neighbors?
We got creative. We had a big piece of glass that we set on top of a wooden table made of a record box and 4 legs. We filled the empty record box with pictures of us and our dogs. We bought that old card table and some fabric and tacked the fabric all the way around the table. We bought a used couch cover and covered an old hand-me-down couch. We attached spotlights to microphone stands with big metal clips.
|This was on their website. The 2 story loft. Who wouldn't want this place with these 2 hotties?|
|These are the only crappy pictures I could find. That's my "artwork" above the handmade lamp.|
|That TV was awesome. And yeah, those are bunny ears.|
Our first night there, I could barely sleep. It was so exciting. I kept wanting to open the curtains and stare at the city. I worked as a waitress, so I was always up late anyway and slept most of the day. We didn't have cable or internet so mostly we listened to music and fought. We LOVED to fight. You're lazy, no you're lazy, no you don't appreciate my talent, no you need to brush your teeth, STOP SMOKING, you're so selfish, stop quitting your job. After our first big fight the first night in the new apartment, I felt like it was already tainted. I laid in bed thinking about my parents' house. There was carpet and grass and my parents at that house. Finally fell asleep at almost 4 AM, thinking about stupid decisions and low self-esteem.
I was woken up slowly by progressing loudness. It was 7:45 AM, according to my alarm clock. Why were people talking? I peeked out the window and saw people. People that were awake for exercise. Loud, stupid, healthy people with matching shirts on. It was a marathon. I had to get up. They were so loud. I tried to open the windows and have a happy attitude.
I heard a banging at the door. When I answered it a man in scrubs stood in front of a Ferrari. He gave me a goofy condescending smile and pointed to my Honda accord parked next to my door. "NOPE. My spot."
I found out that the landlady had told me wrong and I actually had to park in the parking garage. This meant I had to park in a PARKING GARAGE in DOWNTOWN OKLAHOMA CITY and walk up a dark flight of stairs by myself every day. Remember how I fear getting thrown in the back of a van? Parking garages aren't really conductive to that kind of fear. My boyfriend, Chad, was at work. I called him bawling about the parking spot. I didn't even want to live there if I had to park in a parking garage. He told me I was overreacting and to go back to sleep. I couldn't go back to sleep because people were running for a good cause outside our window.
The rain was wonderful in the loft. I opened all the curtains, turned on Diana Krall, and watched the drops fall on the windows. That was when the place was wonderful; Chad wasn't there and I was alone in the rain.
I got home from work at midnight and when I walked in, Chad was looking at something intently across the street. I took off my apron and picked a fight.
When we had that settled, we discussed what he'd been looking at. On the curb in front of the florist (Floral and Hardy, how cute is that?!) there was an arcade game. It was HUGE. It had a sign on it that said "free". We decided we had to have it. People kept driving by and looking at it and we already felt like it was ours. We had so much space and it would look more than appropriate on the cement floor. Problem was, it was almost two in the morning and we knew someone would come back for it when the sun came up. We didn't have any friends, let alone any friends with a truck. We needed a dolly but had negative twelve dollars in our bank account. So we opened my trunk and leaned it onto the open part of the trunk. Chad lifted up the other side and I drove, up a very steep hill, with him carrying the other side. Then we shoved it onto a blanket that we dragged into our home. We had an arcade game. Word spread in the building, and all the rich people were knocking to look at our decor. Ferrari guy even complimented the homemade microphone stands.
We only lasted there about 3 months, because of a little billing problem. By that, I mean, we ain't gots no money. While walking the dogs we stumbled upon a place in a non-respectable area with sign in the yard. "4 RENT $300". It had no dishwasher or laundry facilities. The lady that came to show us the place was wearing a giant pink t-shirt with an upside down Tweety bird. She owned not a single tooth. Before she let us in to give us a tour she yelled at us.
"I AIN'T GOT NO PROBLEM WITH YALLS PEOPLE HAVING A PAST. EVERYBODY DONE FUCKED UP ONCE OR TWICE SO YA GOT BAD CREDIT OR BEEN TO JAIL OR STUFF I AINT CARE. I JUST CAINT HAVE NO ONE THAT MESSED WITH KIDS OR DID TIME FOR CRIMES WITH GUNS OR BOMBS OR NOTHING"
This place would clearly be much better for us.