A year and a half ago, I made the decision that this space would be about pictures, with just a few words each. Of course, I could always post longer things too, but really, the daily images were key. As time progressed, I began to believe that it was only about those photos, nothing else belonged. And so, when those moments stirred me and I longed to write, I kept it inside because there wasn’t anywhere that it could belong.
I realize now that that’s dumb. I make the rules for this site and I can change them at will. I need to write.
* * * * * * *
Yesterday, I had my wallet splayed out next to my computer. I was in the process of paying bills, an experience that is all the more wrenching these days since my income is deeply inconsistent. But the student loan people get angry when you don’t pay them, so I forced myself to open the appropriate windows, enter passwords and approve the transactions.
As I zipped up my psychologically lighter wallet, its scent caught my notice. It wasn’t one that I associate with me, but belonged to my grandmother. She had a weakness for fine leather goods and so her handbags and wallets were always made from the softest Italian leathers. The kind that feel like butter on the outside, are lined with sturdy satin and smell slightly nutty.
Due to her childhood in the early part of the 20th century, when regular bathing hadn’t quite caught on yet, she had a lifelong fear of the odors of the body. And so she used liberal amounts of perfume and tucked rolls of sugar-free peppermints into all pockets and pouches to keep her breath free. She replaced the mints far more regularly than she ate them, and so the result was there were always an abandoned few rolling around the bottom of a bag, keeping company with a handful of change.
During our summertime visits, my sister and I would be given permission to hunt through the bottoms of bags not currently in use and allowed to keep the money and dusty mints.
I’d already been thinking a great deal about my grandmother lately, when my leather wallet and the scent of the peppermint gum I keep in my purse, sent me time traveling. Come January, it will have been ten years since I moved to Philadelphia. April will make ten years since she’s been gone and May means ten years since I’ve lived in Apartment 2024.
This apartment has been a character in my life in much the same way that friends and family play a role. It’s not just a series of rooms and walls, but an entity with which I have a long and sometimes-trying relationship. Sometimes I just want to be done, to move on to something new. But like any committed relationship, the problems cannot be run from. The only thing I can do is to choose to work them out, make peace and make adjustments until we’re both happy again.
I am certain that my grandfather Phil never imagined when he bought this apartment in 1966 that his 32 year granddaughter would be living in it and writing about it 45 years later.