My husband and I moved from New Hampshire to Massachusetts a few months into our marriage. The 600-square-foot apartment was so small, most of the treasures we’d received as wedding gifts remained in boxes for the two years we lived there.
Then it was off to Oklahoma, where we moved into a larger apartment, and I dreamed of owning a home of our own. After a year, we purchased a four-bedroom home and spent the next few years decorating and furnishing it. It was lovely, and I never regretted the decision, but as the neighborhood started to go downhill, we decided it was time to relocate. We found the perfect house across town. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be ready until a couple of months after we sold our current house. There we were, back in an apartment. Only this time, we had three kids.
That should have been a really difficult time. Because we had to rent month-to-month, our choices were limited, and we ended up in a complex we’d turned up our noses to years earlier. Most of our belongings were shoved in a storage unit while the five of us crammed into a small, three bedroom apartment. So why did I title this post, “The Joy of Apartment Living”? Because that’s exactly what it was—a joy. I’ll give you five reasons why:
- I could clean the whole place in an hour and a half.
- I could stand in front of the washer/dryer unit in the hallway and slide the laundry baskets into the bedrooms without moving a foot.
- My kids could play with all the neighbors right there in the ugly, unkempt area between the buildings. They had no idea this wasn’t a nice place to live.
- We had the opportunity to meet and get to know people of very different socio-economic and racial backgrounds. Interestingly, our kids didn’t seem to notice that everybody else in the complex was dark-skinned. What they did notice was that those kids were a lot of fun to play with.
- Without all the stuff to deal with, to dust, to wash, I found myself with more time than I’d had in years. Even with three kids to take care of, that time felt like a vacation.
I love my house, my neighborhood, my yard, and my pool. But there are days I long for the simplicity of that small apartment, of a house not filled to the brim with stuff. I will never complain about my home, but there was joy in that apartment.
How about you? Have you ever found joy in unexpected places?
Have you ever longed to simplify?
Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. She is the author of two books, Faith House and One Christmas Eve, both Christmas stories. Read excerpts and find out more at her website.