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White Walls

July 14th, 2018 was my move in date.

I had spent the last 2 years in a one bedroom apartment, learning to be thankful of what I could afford, learning to live within my means, learning to make a tiny box into a home that I was happy in, all in hopes of saving money to move into a bigger place. Capitalism, right? That is the goal isn’t it? “Moving on up” plays in the background.

I scrimped and saved so that I could afford movers so I wouldn’t have to carry a dresser down 3 flights of stairs. I boxed my life up. I had anxiety attack after anxiety attack, but I still pushed through.

Moving day finally came and it was like everything I was anxious about came true, plus some bonus bullshit. The movers dropped my printer and banged a couple of things into walls. They charged me twice what I was quoted, depleting my savings I had worked so hard on, and causing me to cry on the ugly brown carpet of my new apartment as 3 men continued to do a shitty job of moving my things in. At this point, I just wanted them to finish so I could sob openly in my new place and look around for some silver linings.

Once they left, I took a deep breath and looked around my apartment. The deeper I looked, the more heavy my chest felt, the more sluggish my feet became. This unit looked nothing like the one I was shown. Same layout, dated things to reflect my cheaper rent as expected yes, but this apartment was disgusting. From the disgusting, old brown carpet, the barely hanging on ceiling fan and the broken screen in one of the windows to the constantly running toilet, the unfinished countertops and the ugly beige walls, I wanted to collapse into myself like a dying star.

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Trying to will every bone in my body to not stay on the floor, feelings sorry for myself, I mustered up all the nerve I could find and I began to unpack, kitchen first. I found myself not wanting the dishes off of which my children eat to touch anything. I could lay down contact paper? Ugh, I don’t want to have to do that, I just want this place to have been cleaned. I was struggling pretty hard, but again, I kept pushing through. I set up my bed next so that I would have a place to rest ready for when I just literally couldn’t take any more of this day, which was quickly approaching. I cried for a collective of maybe 5 hours that day, but kept working, kept unpacking, kept trying to be positive. Finally, once my headache came, I decided to call it a day.

I took off my glasses and laid down on my comfy bed and began to play the game I always play on my phone. I was just starting to relax when I saw something move on the bed beside me, out of the corner of my eye. Now, I have horrible eyesight, so I figured that since I was so stressed that I was probably imagining things. Still, I knew I had to be sure so I put my glasses on and turned on the light.

A roach was on my bed, right next to where my face had just been. Now, just to be clear, I am not afraid of roaches…I would just prefer them to stay away from my face and at least have enough respect for me to avoid being seen. Coexisting, right? I wandered into the hallway and turned on the light and saw another roach, then another. They were literally everywhere and they had no concern with me or the light. After a few more days and nights of this, killing up to 13 bugs in ten minutes one night, another night just standing in the hall and watching them crawl out of the walls, I realized that it was very clear that this apartment belonged to the roaches, not me.

The trailer I grew up in had bugs, tons of them. I remember being afraid to have friends sleepover for fear that a bug would crawl on them at night and then they would go tell everyone at school that I was gross. I did not work hard and save my money just to move to a place that gave me flashbacks of this time, let alone, make my children sleep there with fears of their own. Not me, not again, no way.

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I raised hell, and by “raised hell” I mean I immediately acted. I documented every single bug that I killed, I took photos and videos, I sent emails detailing every single issue with the unit and I never let up. I didn’t stop complaining until the problems were fixed, the biggest one being the bugs. One by one, the landlord fixed things, replaced things, cleaned things. The bugs never really let up until I went to the store and got a couple of products to try myself. I got on my hands and knees and put traps out, left poison under the baseboards, and just tried to make the best of this. I cleaned everything to the best of my ability. I began to decorate, starting with the boys’ room, which helped a ton to lift my spirits.

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I will say that the apartments are shitty, but I appreciate the management getting shit done as far as repairs. The bugs are clearly the result of someone living like a pig before I got there, the bug problem will be something I continue to complain about until my lease is up, I’m sure. But, they replaced the carpet, refinished the countertops (both light grey instead of dark grey and ugly brown carpet). They fixed the toilet, replaced the screen, fixed the ceiling fan, and continue to send pest control every time I call. I was finally starting to feel ok in my space, like I could manage to live here for the next 10 months, so I started painting the walls. Beige just isn’t going to do.

However, management left a fine on my door for a RIDICULOUS charge and then in the middle of me painting the dining room, I paused because I noticed this loud clicking sound. I slowly walked through my living room - the way the teen that just got out of the shower in the horror movie does after she hears a noise and she realizes she isn’t sure if she locked the door or not - and when I peaked around the corner I saw water, pouring out to the A/C unit in my ceiling.

The next day I wrote an email, detailing yet again the laundry list of issues I have had since moving, then telling them that I will not be paying the fine, they must have me confused with someone else, and then telling them about the water. They didn’t respond to my rude email, but they fixed the A/C and waived the fee off of my account without a sound. I guess they don’t have the energy that I have to fight, but I am glad they are more willing to help because my next step was to call the BBB.

I am still making the best of this place and I am determined to. This apartment has already instilled a few things in me. I’ve relearned hard work, I have found my voice and determination, I keep my house cleaner just to avoid inviting more bugs, and at the end of the day, when I look around at everything I simply didn’t accept and had fixed/replace, I feel proud.

I am painting the walls white.
I am painting the walls.
I am going to be happy here, so help me lucifer.