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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sophomore Year: Our First Apartment

The second year of study in American universities, as well as high schools, is known as the “sophomore year.” That said, however, the current trend in the US of A says that the term should be “second-year, not sophomore, when referring to university students. Perhaps this long-used term is now considered offensive to the students because when the word is used as an adjective, sophomoric, it means immature, foolish or ridiculous. Others may think this definition is most appropriate for our housing that second year of study. We lived in five different locations that one school year!

Sophomore year was when we were given the option of living in the dorms or living off-campus. My roommate and I were excited about finding our own place to live for the very first time. We planned to look for an apartment as soon as we returned from our summer jobs in Spokane*.

Some of the initial enthusiasm for launching ourselves into new experiences had been… shall we say tempered… by our job-hunting adventures over the summer but, still, an apartment! That was exciting just to consider.

We flipped those classified ads open as soon as the bundle had been thrown on the front stoop. We were ready, notebooks in hand.

The first day was filled with cruising past the listed address to get a quick visual, followed by a phone call to inquire, if it did look as good as the ad suggested. Apartments at the top of the list boasted two bedrooms; those with less than one bedroom (studio) were not put on the list.

It was fun to check out the inside of a number of apartments, but most we couldn’t afford, as it turned out. Okay, let’s widen the search around the university and check on those apartments a bit farther out. Some were still close enough but in such bad repair that we figured we’d spend too much time calling repair people and then trying to get a landlord to pay for the work, naw; let’s move on.

Well, by the time we had a short list from which to choose, there was really only one apartment that was ready for occupancy that first quarter.

Funnily enough, we had driven past the address, never even seeing the apartment that was listed. We thought it was probably something inside the large house whose number was so close to the apartment address. We, definitely, didn’t want to rent something inside a stranger’s home, especially with our work schedules. We’d need to take early morning classes but would be working in the evenings so returning well after most folks were asleep. Not hard to see potential conflict with the landlord, right?

On one pass-by of the house, we caught sight of a paved driveway that seemed to pass behind the building. Hmmm? That’s unusual since most areas behind a house are not paved. Though a  bit nervous, we turned our vehicle off the main road and onto that paved driveway. Sure enough; there was a small building with the driveway looping in front of the entryway door. Interesting.

Consulting the info on the apartment, we were hesitant to phone the owner. It was listed as a “large studio apartment”, so no real bedroom. Plus, it was located a far distance from campus and our work place. Still, it was a curious little building. We wanted to see inside, just for fun and who knew, maybe it was the place just right for us?

The owner lived in the larger house; we’d guessed that right in our initial assumption that the apartment was inside the house, but this would be a good thing, in case we needed something repaired. Wouldn’t be hard to track down the landlord. Crossing the threshold felt a bit like entering a scene in some novel, compared with the places we had visited already that day. So warm and cozy… a wonderful feeling, really.

At first glance one saw a miniature living room, flowered, ruffled pillows casually resting on either arm of the loveseat. To the right, sprouting out of the middle of a circular table, was a shaded pole lamp. A picture hung on the wall. Behind the loveseat, wooden panels were seen as a part of the wall adjacent to the pictured wall. Glancing hard right after stepping through the front door, one was confronted with a full-sized reflection. A long mirror had been affixed to the sliding door of the clothes closet. Opposite the pictured wall, and a few feet from the left side of the loveseat, was the bathroom door. Very close quarters but included everything that one would need.

Glancing to the left when entering the apartment, one saw a little dinette table with two matching chairs, as well as the wall making up the backside of that little bathroom.

Slipping inside just a step or two, while continuing to gaze to the left, we were delighted to see a full-sized, fully-equipped kitchen. Feminine curtains decorated the windows and let a lot of light into the apartment.

It was just darling, from the point of view of two nineteen-year-old co-eds ready to move into their very first apartment. Something missing? Oh yes, the bed. Well, just move the loveseat and pole lamp to the wall next to the front door and fold back those wooden panels. Give a pull and, presto! The large bed, ready to use. Okay, it was a bit of a squeeze to get the closet or bathroom doors opened when the bed was down, but what a great reminder to keep a tidy home, right?

We loved our little home and its size was really not a problem; we weren’t there all that much, anyway. We just moved the two dinette chairs over to the living room when we entertained. Yes, we entertained, of course; we were university students, after all. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, you know… er, maybe Jane, in this case!

Reading Psalm 23 this morning gave me a bit of a chuckle in a couple of places:

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. (Okay, it might be a little cramped and somewhat small, but it was all right there in our first apartment. We lacked nothing!)

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, (Our “green pastures” were inside and it was nearly impossible to fall out of that resting place because of the walls but it worked for us.)

He leads me beside quiet waters (located behind the larger house put the apartment far enough back from the busy street that, indeed, it was a very quiet place the Lord had given us.)

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (That verse normally means the place of worship but our little apartment felt like it was the “House of the Lord,” because He found it for us and saw that we discovered it. It was just perfect for a first apartment. It hadn’t made our first choice list but, truly, it should have! God knew that and scratched all the others off the list to get us to this lovely home. I found that, for “all the days of my life” so far, God has proved Himself faithful to follow me with His goodness and love (mercy in some translations.)

(For those finance/business types reading this: It was autumn of 1968, minimum wage was $1.15/hour and the rent on this studio apartment was $92 per month.)

*Posts on the summer jobs in Spokane adventures can be found, beginning with this link:

****Sophomore Year: Guys… Next Post

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