By the end of the year, M and I knew we wanted to move in together after graduation, but we were broke. Neither one of us had a great job lined up or received any financial help from our family. That made our options very limited in the housing department. Together, we looked and looked until we found a place we could afford while we also looked for better jobs.
The place we chose, by default because it was so cheap, was not far from our college campus, but it felt light years away. The building was crumbly, the apartment was tiny and it was in a high crime area. We moved what little furniture and other possessions we had and made of it what we could. We had milk crate and wooden box dressers, M’s futon for a bed and a tv and my old couches for the living room. Add in his fish tank with a giant oscar fish who ate dog food and it was complete. What else could we need?
We had some really nice neighbors and some pretty shady ones, too. The cops were around a lot. M was very protective and walked me to and from my car at night or in the early morning. He never let me answer the door and had me call him if he wasn’t at home. He always made me feel safe.
Most of all, I just remember being happy in love. I didn’t care where we lived or what we had. M and I made it our home. We cooked and cleaned and shopped together. We listened to music and watched tv and talked and talked and talked. I’d never known anyone so well in all my life. I’d never let anyone know me so well. In this shitty, dilapidated, itty bitty apartment, I’d never felt more at home. I just knew I belonged with him.
One of my most memorable evenings in this crappy place was an evening after a very long shift at work. I came home and M had lit a bunch of candles all over our bedroom. Hootie and the Blowfish was playing on our CD player. He scooped me up at the door, took me to the middle of the room and we danced and whispered and touched and kissed for I don’t even know how long. We made love all night and slept half the day. I got lost in him; we were lost in one another. Nothing else mattered.