Yesterday, J-man and I casually closed the door on the little yellow apartment that has been our home for the last three years. We talked about how strangely OK we felt about it. Maybe it was because we’d spent the last couple of weeks packing our things, double-checking we hadn’t kindly left behind any pubes for the new tenants and scrubbed melted cheese off unexpected surfaces. Maybe we were just ready to be done with the damn thing. Really, we’d been thinking about leaving for over a year and we knew the break-up was coming. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t love you sunny, little number eight.
Here are some things I will always remember about our first apartment together:
- On one of our first nights, I was still shell-shocked about living in the city and having a job and having a serious relationship. J-man, in his eternally positive and hopeful way, tried to cheer me up by cooking dinner. I can’t remember what the whole meal was, but it included hash browns. As J-man proudly served it up, I took one bite and declared “This tastes like oven cleaner” and burst into tears. Why he ended up proposing, I’ll never understand.
- Our unfriendly neighbours. I have a bit of a penchant for dresses about four sizes too big, which I wear with a belt around my waist. One day soon after we’d moved in, I walked up the stairs as a neighbour and his girlfriend walked down. The boyfriend and I exchanged cheery ’hellos’ while the girlfriend ignored me. As I unlocked my door, she said loudly: “She looks pregnant in that dress”.
- Our yellow couch. It was in a perfect, sunny position next to glass doors and was the perfect spot for reading, watching telly and making whoo- nevermind. Unfortunately we didn’t really have room for a dining table so it was also where we ate our dinner. It ended up more of a beige colour with tomato sauce and chocolate splatters as well as mysterious head patches. Gross.
- Crows Nest, Neutral Bay and Cremorne really became our stomping grounds. We’ll never have enough money to live there properly again but it really is a nice part of Sydney. Water views, awesome pubs, a historic cinema, green parks, good bookshops, cafes and heaps of purebred dog owners. Plus the weird Hare Krishna place that smelt alternately of spicy vegetarian cooking and wizz.
- Stir Crazy. My favourite place to eat in the whole world. For a little while it was our Friday hangout, until we started saving hardcore for our trip. The curry puffs are to die for and don’t even get me started on the fish cakes, baby.
- Cruddy appliances. Our first washing machine didn’t take in water, so we had to fill it with buckets and constantly re-start the bastard. One load of washing would take three hours. Our oven wasn’t fanforced so everything, no matter what, would end up slightly burnt on the bottom. I’m a good cook, I sweeeear!
- Beers in the park. Quite a few times, J-man and I would lie in a particular part of the park that’s really close to the freeway but has a view of Sydney Harbour. You could close your eyes pretend the woosh of the cars was actually the ocean. I always felt content lying there, half-tipsy, looking at all the other people in the world.
- The 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208 buses. One stand out memory is catching a bus into the city one weekend morning with J-man. As we got on, a younger looking guy asked me where Wynyard was. As I tried to explain, he asked me to sit down across from him and talk. I could immediately tell he was a Christian - something about the glint in his eyes. At first I thought he was trying to spread the good word, but it soon became obvious he was trying to hit on me, in that awkward way Christian boys have, as J-man looked on in bemusement. Conclusion? Christians are weird homewreckers.
- The time(s) J-man defrosted chicken breasts on top of the water heater. I have a life-long fear of getting Salmonella poisoning. I don’t know why really, it just sounds awful so I’m always cautious about chicken. In my opinion, J-man has always had some pretty suspect ways of cooking with chicken, but he used to work at KFC and declares himself an expert. One night, mum came to stay and my sisters came over for dinner. When I arrived home, there was a terrible smell wafting around the whole flat. I thought maybe someone farted or had just used the bathroom and, being senstive about that issue myself, decided just to ignore it and subtley open a window. As the night progressed, the smell turned from bad fart to bad poo to bad corpse-decomposing-after-violent-death-at-the-hands-of-a-deranged-serial-killer. When mum went to use the shower, I suggested she give it a few moments because obviously J-man was having some pretty serious butt issues. I don’t know what made me think of it but I looked towards the water heater and noticed a package of chicken sitting on top. We had planned to have a chicken dish the night before but had decided to go out instead. And, even though I constantly pester him to be careful with chicken, J-man obviously didn’t think that ruled out defrosting it on the heater. By the way mum looked at both of us that night, I knew we lost a couple of points. It was shameful, embarrassing and foul. And a couple of months later, J-man did it again.
- Other random flashbacks: dust bunnies, carpet stains, brown hot water, succulent pot plants, uncomfortable bed, dead other plants, our cactus Admiral Fitzwallace, bad internet, Doritos, Crust pizza, spooning, weevil disaster, love.