Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

300 SQUARE FEET TO CALL MY OWN
I traveled downtown to begin my search for a place to call home. My journey began on the light rail, which is always a good way to start the day. I’m starting to get more familiar with the city, and as we passed the different stops I found myself knowing exactly where I was. Arriving downtown I immediately found a fast food restaurant and went in to utilize the womens facilities. As I entered the restroom there was an attractive young woman standing at the sink, chatting with her friend who was in one of the stalls. I guessed they were teenagers, which made their conversation in a public restroom that much more disturbing.
“Two minutes is taking a long time,” one said.
“I know,” said the other, exiting the stall.
“You left it in there?” the other asked.
“Yes, it has my urine on it, I don’t want to touch it and bring it out here.” said the other.
It became obvious then, one of the girls was taking a pregnancy test. In a public restroom. Apparently to keep her parents from knowing. The two continued to chat like it was no big deal to be awaiting such life-changing news in a bathroom, and I was almost tempted to extend my business for two minutes; curious of the outcome for the two strangers. But I didn’t, and the two smiled at me happily as I washed my hands and left.
The apartment I was to view first was a mere 10 minute walk from downtown Denver, and I found myself arriving 20 minutes early. I wandered around the neighborhood, and was pleasantly surprised at the people I saw. Professionals walked the streets in their business suits, carrying briefcases and satchels. Tourists mingled among them, grasping their maps and gazing up at the beautiful stone structures of several old churches. The sidewalk cafes were full of people sipping their coffee and enjoying their sandwiches.
Overall, the neighborhood was wonderful. Which shouldn’t have been a surprise since it’s called “Uptown,” and Colorado Magazine calls it one of the “hippest” neighborhoods in the area. I circled the neighborhood within six blocks either direction of the building I would be seeing the apartment in, and found a police station one block down, neighborhood bars and/or coffee shops on each corner, and noticed that while parking was limited, there were no broken down rust buckets on blocks anywhere. Yes, this would be a good neighborhood to call home. I was prepared for the apartment to be somewhat of a dive, given the cheap price. But I rationalized that I was really paying rent for a neighborhood, not the tiny place itself. Having spent nearly two weeks searching online and comparing prices, I decided it would be better to rent a cheap apartment and have some money left over to experience the city, than to rent a more expensive apartment that I would have to spend all my time in because I couldn’t afford to go out.
So I wasn’t surprised when the landlord opened the door to reveal a space that was about 300 square feet, with a closet to the left that contained a miniature stove and sink, and another closet that contained a toilet and a small bathtub. The floors were hardwood, with one window that looked out over the street, and another that looked out over the back alley, but provided a view of the tall buildings just blocks away. The building was old, and smelled accordingly, but the apartment I’m seeking is on the top floor and somehow escaped the musty smell of the rest of the building. I passed a young girl with pink and blue hair, wearing torn jeans and various facial piercings, as she was leaving the building to walk her dog. Through one of the doors we passed I heard a Hispanic woman giving direction to a child in Spanish, and the young man who was moving out of the apartment obviously spent more on his wardrobe than he did on rent.
And I fell in love with the place. At least with the price and the location. I left my application with the landlord, and barring any issues with my background check, hope to call the stinky, tiny apartment home next week. At least for six months. After which time I hope to be a little more established here, and have my eye on one of the high rise apartments downtown, which is about $200 more per month. But for now, I’ll pay my dues here in the Mile High City, and embrace the little closet that I hope to call home.

SETTLING IN
I’m officially an Urban Dweller, residing in the Uptown neighborhood of Denver, near Washington and 17th Street. It’s the first time I’ve ever lived someplace with a street name, because, of course, I’ve only lived in Utah, where all the streets are numbered. Tim and the family helped me move in yesterday, which went smoothly with only a brief moment of panic when we double parked and unloaded all my belongings onto the sidewalk in front of my building while Tim went to find a place to park. For a brief moment, everyone passing by could see my blankie and belongings, which made me feel a little exposed to the world. But a nice old man, who had no business trying to lift anything more than his own two feet, kindly stopped and offered to help me lug the magic suitcase up two flights of stairs. (The same magic suitcase that has housed all my belongings for the past year and although it’s huge, has managed to pass weight limits on both airplane, trains and buses. It is currently serving as a T.V. Stand in my new abode)
Tim and Mona generously gifted me with a futon that is just my size as a house-warming gift, and after splurging on a small dinette set, a frying pan, a sauce pan, one cup, one plate and one bowl, I’m settled into my tiny apartment where everything is miniature. The stove has two burners, the fridge is only 4 feet tall. The tub is deep but short, and the sinks are not much bigger than a mixing bowl. The only shelves in the place are higher than I can reach, so I will definitely be shopping for a step-stool. But after a day of settling in, I sit here now looking out my window at the tall buildings of downtown Denver, anxiously anticipating nightfall so I can see the city lit up.
And it’s just how I imagined it would be…nearly 33 years ago, when I was only nine years old. When I knew my destiny was to become a writer, living in a city, in a little apartment overlooking downtown, with a fire escape out my window, and a few dollars in my pocket. I never knew for sure where that city would be, or how I would end up there, but I’ve always known I would…

THE FIRST NIGHT
My first official night in my new abode was, well, a little less than I’d hoped for. I’d planned to walk to the grocery store and get a few food items, but, for the first time since I’ve been in Denver it decided to snow. Really snow. Not just the dusting of powder followed by sunshine. Nope. It was wet, and cold and slushy all day long. Having nearly exhausted my weekly budget, I begrudgingly ventured to the fancy corner market, where the food is organic and probably a better quality, but not the kind of place I can afford to shop for my initial stocking of my kitchen. Determined to stick to a budget and not spend money unnecessarily, I gathered my change and returned with enough provisions for at least 24 hours, in the form of a can of soup, oatmeal for breakfast, an overpriced loaf of bread and a can of tuna. Combined with the package of potato chips and twizzlers Tim left me yesterday, along with half of a donut I had in my backpack, I settled in to read and write the cold day away.
By late afternoon I was plagued with hormones and cramps, and I decided I could either go to 7-11 out my back door and spend $5.00 on Midol, or I could venture to the McDonald’s I’d seen a few block over and down on Colfax. I opted for the grease and sweetness of apple pies, and headed for McDonald’s. One of my goals here in my new life, is to never leave my apartment without at least applying lipstick and mascara, so after fancying up a bit, I was feeling pretty good about myself as I headed out in my leather jacket with my satchel, (which my mother bought for me in Quartzite for Christmas and is awesome) draped over my shoulder. The wind was cold but I kept a smile on my face as I headed toward Colfax.
While Colfax is a main through street and is lined with dozens of unique shops and restaurants, I’ve been told not to go past Colfax, as the quality of residents on that side varies greatly from those who live on my side of Colfax. Specifically, the Yuppies and hip Urbanites are replaced with thugs, bums and junkies. I’ve wandered all over my side of Colfax and have met only cheerful, respectful people.
Within the last block of my walk to Colfax, I was “complimented” by no less than 4 hooligans. By complimented, I mean them yelling and motioning for me to join them, “Hey baby, bring that on over here…or Daaanggg giirrlll, whassat goin on ova tha?” or something to that effect, I couldn’t really understand them, as they were obviosuly speaking a language I don’t understand. The other two simply gave me the classic whistle and stare as they passed by. And I think its safe to say that my addiction to McDonald’s is officially cured. The dollar menu is the cheapest gig in town here, and I felt much better when finally another young, respectable, white woman walked in to dine with her young daughter. Nobody really bothered me, but it was pretty obvious that this is not a McDonald’s I want to frequent again.
After devouring my $2 meal, I hurried home to wait again for the city to light up in the night sky, and I planted myself in front of my window to wait for it. Damn the daylight savings time, again, because it seemed as if the sky would never get dark. Finally, the grey sky was just about to fade to black, and I could just begin to see the twinkling of lights coming from the tops of the tall buildings. One by one they seemed to come on, like turning on a Christmas tree for the first time after decorating it. Just as I was becoming enchanted with the scene playing out before me, I was blinded by a brilliant light, which, I realized, was the street lamp coming directly in my window from the power pole in the alley, about 15 feet from my window and directly at eye level with my apartment.
I shielded my eyes from the offending light and continued watching the city come to life in the dark. It truly was beautiful, and after watching for a while I closed my blinds and was thankful that I had splurged and bought the regal looking drapes at the Family Dollar. Suffice it to say, the street light could be a source of constant irritation when I’m trying to sleep, but I think between the wood blinds and my fancy drapes I’ll be able to sleep soundly.

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April 4, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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