For those of you who don’t know me– which I recognize consists of about 100% of nobody reading this blog– you might have been reading the last post and wondering, “a year up in Canada? Where did he live?”
That’s right people, I have a secret apartment past. It’s sordid. It’s dirty. There was some cheating.
I started off my year in a rental owned by my boss, which was furnished. By all counts it was nice enough. But I hated feeling like I was living in somebody else’s house for an extended period. So I did things to make it my own, like take down some art and rearrange the furniture (nothing I hate more than an angled sofa) and buy a dish set at the Salvation Army. It helped mildly. Then I found out that I was living on the edge of an unsafe park. On the ground floor, no less. In fact, that’s where my car, Roxanne, got her name: from the portly woman at the corner gas station who told me I was liable to get stabbed if I went out after dark. Welcome to the neighborhood. But for real, thanks Roxanne.
What sealed the deal for getting out on my own was that the rent I was paying turned out to be about triple market rate. It was a nice apartment. But trust, it wasn’t that nice.
I had seen my next apartment building while driving by and loved the 60s retro-ness of it. It was also orange, an enormous plus. I saw a unit, fell in love, and the next day went back and signed the lease. Crappy iPhone picture that doesn’t really help things at all:
I should just say, the vintage shopping in Regina, Saskatchewan would wipe its ass with New York City’s vintage shopping. I figured out pretty quickly that nobody within a 100 mile radius was interested in anything that might be prefaced with the words “retro” or “mid-century.” That’s right, the entire city’s mid-century discards were mine for the taking, and boy did I take. And cheaply. Those were the days.
There were two stores I frequented: The Salvation Army and the Value Village. Both were enormous and well-priced. I went every Tuesday after work. And sometimes on weekends. There was also another store, Retrovise, that sold mid-century furniture and housewares, mostly at prices about on par with these stupid bourgie Upper East Side thrift shops that never have anything fun to begin with.
Those stores, combined with a couple of used furniture dealers, stuff I found for free, and some estate sales furnished my entire apartment. And some weirdo couple on Craigslist who traded Erin’s old futon for a mattress for me. Did I mention that Erin and Adrian are the best friends in the world? They are.
Here’s what the ole place looked like.
If Roxanne were a bigger car, I would have kept more. But I basically got rid of everything. I saved most of my kitchen stuff and most of the needlepoints, but beyond that almost nothing else. But because most of it was so cheap to begin with, I just about broke even when I sold it all marked up like a crook on Craigslist.
Now, I’m not really lamenting the loss of that aesthetic, necessarily. Firstly, because I didn’t really have to live with it for too long, I kind of just went a little kitschy-nuts. Which was fun, but might be too much for the long term. That short time frame also made it easier to spend very little money because I wasn’t too concerned about investing in pieces that would last. For example, all the living room furniture was, literally, $100 combined (discounting the rug, art, and television). The place was also huge, comparatively, so I didn’t have to worry as much about how things would fit.
I was also uber-crafty. See those roman blinds in the living room? I made them. THREE of them. I bought a roll of the fabric at Value Village for like $7 and thought, “Hey, this is sort of awful, isn’t it? Perfect!” It was a weird year.
Now that I’m not facing any enormous purge in the foreseeable future, things are a little different. Like, I didn’t enlist Erin to help drag my $20 plaid couch out of the basement of the chain-smoking-cat-owning-woman-who-worked-in-the-thrift-store. I bought it from Ikea. And without sounding too ridiculous, I suppose I want things here to be a little more… refined? Ew, that word. Adult? I don’t know. But I do really, really miss that selection. There’s so little of it here that hasn’t been snatched up. And every time I see something I do want, it’s way too expensive. The prices in Manhattan (and Brooklyn) are just outrageous, I’ve found. I miss being un-trendy. But not enough to make me find a new un-trendy style. I can’t control the things I like, even if other people think they like them as much as me.