I graduated from University with a degree in English literature. In a competitive job market, this left me qualified to read good books and tell you what they were about. This was not a high demand skill. After a long search I finally found a job and moved to my first solo apartment.
The cost of the new apartment seemed very reasonable. Almost strangely reasonable. Cost was a factor as my new job came with low pay. It was nearly a volunteer position. I thought I was rather clever to find such a great place at that cost. Apparently, I was not clever enough to look closely outside the window. The first day I moved in I discovered it.
The apartment squatted on the railroad tracks. When someone says they lived on the wrong side of the tracks- let me tell you- right next to the tracks is WAAAY worse than either side. When the trains would go roaring by, whistles blowing, furniture shaking, glasses bouncing in the cabinets- I could have reached out and touched it as it passed it was so close.
I didn’t sleep well in the new apartment due to the trains. I didn’t like my job. My car was stolen (by criminals breaking out of jail no less) and my boyfriend had moved half way across the country to take a job in Boston. I was all around miserable. I was broke all the time and as the holidays approached I grumbled to all who would listen how it didn’t feel like Christmas in my hovel. There may have been tears.
I came home one day to find a delivery for me. It was a huge Christmas tree, a stand, lights and ornaments. It was from my boyfriend. He arranged the whole thing long distance. I set up the tree and sat in the apartment looking at the lights and smelling the pine. In that moment I knew I would marry him.
And I did. (although it took him a few more years to realize the brilliance of this plan) We’ve lived several places, including overseas, but no matter where we live I always remember that it isn’t the space in which we live our lives that matters- but who shares the space with us.
However, I would still advise against living on or near railroad tracks.
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