Since my book, “Laugh. Fight. Stay Married,” didn’t sell, I’ve been left wondering what to do with this giant draft. Years worth of writing would just go to waste sitting on my laptop. So, I’m going to share it here. It won’t be regular postings. They won’t be in any kind of order. But occasionally when I’m out of blog fodder, I’ll share a little story from the manuscript. The good news is that you guys get pictures, too! This first story is of our initial visit to Connecticut, before we were even married. We went up one weekend to find a place to stay and had… well… an eye opening experience, to say the least.
New England architecture is very different than what we had in Florida. Smaller rooms, smaller windows, smaller everything. And, unlike the shiny new apartment complexes that went up by the month in Florida, here in Connecticut there was no room for new construction and so apartments were primarily large, old homes that were sectioned off by floors into apartments. While that sometimes gave you interesting features like ornate wainscoting and original hardwood floors, it also meant apartments were often shoved into spaces where apartments were never intended to be. Kitchens were small, sometimes stuck in places like hallways and closets. Bedrooms were tiny with paper-thin walls. And laundry rooms were a rare luxury.
By the time we visited the first two apartments, I was more nervous than ever about my decision of following Chris to Yale. As we walked through apartments that smelled like boiling cabbage and felt to my English major imagination like a scene straight out of a Dickens novel, my mind couldn’t help but drift back to Florida and to my supposed law school classmates who would have been starting their first week of law school right now.
What had I done? Was I sure I’d made the right choice? What would I do if I hadn’t?
The landlord of the third apartment that we were viewing was showing us through the tiny apartment he lent out above his legal aide office downstairs. The wood paneling from the walls were straight out of the 70s. So was the leather vest that he wore.
“And, um, the ad says there is laundry on the premises?” I asked, clearing my throat and forcing myself to focus on what we were doing.
“Oh, yeah,” the landlord said, walking us through the dirty claustrophobic hallway that I am almost positive had been the scene of a homicide at some point. We stepped out into the small gravel parking lot behind the house and the landlord motioned across the street where a neon red sign glowed in the window of a store.
LAUNDRY MAT – OPEN 24 HOURS.
“Oh,” I said.
Chris took my hand and thanked the landlord for his time and we turned to leave.
“But I haven’t shown you the basement,” he called after us.
“No thanks!” Chris yelled back and then whispered to me, “We aren’t interested in seeing where you hide the bodies…”
We walked down the block to the last apartment appointment we had that day, but I was so discouraged that I felt like cancelling it altogether.
“You know,” Chris said. “I’m glad you’re here with me.”
“You are?” I said, smiling despite my sadness.
“Yep. I couldn’t do this without you. So, Kate, if you don’t want to be here, then I don’t want to be here either.”
I sniffed back tears that I hadn’t even noticed I was crying and stopped walking. Chris turned to me and I searched his face for any signs that he was just saying this to make me feel better. But there was no hesitation on his face. No sadness or worry. He looked as if he had just asked me where I wanted to have dinner. It was as simple of a decision as that to him. Either I was here with him, or we both went home. That was it.
And that was all I needed to know.
“No,” I said, wiping my face on my sleeve. Cause I’m classy like that. “I’m ready. I want to do this. It’s just really different. But I know this is where we’re supposed to be right now.”
“Okay, then let’s go see this last apartment and then I’ll take you out for a good dinner. Something really special.”
“Oh, goody!” I sniffed, never being one to turn down a good meal.
The last apartment was one that Chris had found earlier that morning as we walked around looking at areas of town. It was smaller than most of the apartment buildings we had seen, only two stories. It was a light beige color with burnt orange shutters and front door. It wasn’t attractive, really. But walking in that front door felt good.
The landlord, Brad, was a young, redheaded man, not too much older than we were. He and his wife, Naomi, bought the house to rent out to college students and had been lucky so far in having the luxury of choosing who they wanted to rent it to. When he took us inside, I understood why.
It was gorgeous and nothing like any of the other apartments we had seen. The house was only put up for rent that day and from the looks of the place, it would rent out quickly.
The living room, lined with built in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, opened up into the dining room, which opened up into the kitchen. In the dining room and kitchen, massive skylights let in more light than any other apartment we had seen so far and, more importantly, reminded me of Florida. Off of the kitchen and towards the back of the house were two large bedrooms and a small but clean full bath. The back yard was really large and enclosed by a privacy fence, something unheard of in the city of New Haven. And just off the house was an enormous deck that was surrounded in lush green vegetation. It felt more like we were in a summerhouse in the mountains than it did a tiny apartment in the city.
The minute I stepped into the living room, I blurted out to Brad, “We’ll take it.”
Chris laughed and put his arm around my shoulders, whispering into my ear, “Then welcome home, Kate.”