Writer’s Workshop: Our House, In The Middle Of Our Street

Image by Ricarda Mölck from Pixabay

Shortly before Mary and I were married, she called me with the news that the lady who lived in one of the apartments (she called them "flats," somehow implying they were too small to be considered apartments) in her parents’ building was moving out and that the place was ours if we wanted it. The rent was cheap and it had all the amenities one could hope for (close to shopping and transportation, relatively safe neighborhood, pretty good neighbors, etc.), so naturally we jumped on it.

It was small, which I really didn’t realize until we moved to Atlanta and discovered that the whole flat would fit in the living room of our house. To me, it seemed perfect for the two of us. And it was: we lived there almost ten years and it was sufficient for us and the several cats we had over the years.

The source of heat was a space heater in the kitchen, a sort of mini-furnace that would generate enough heat to keep the house comfortably cool during the winter. The apartment had its own water heater, that stood beside the space heater. The pipes for the water heater provided a place to hang coats during the winter and for me to hang my clothes while I was in the shower in the morning.

There was a step up into the bathroom, because I understand the pipes were all underneath it. We also had a master bedroom that was just big enough for a queen-sized bed and a dresser, and a spare bedroom that became a sort of storage room for us. When Mary played the organ and piano, both of them were in there, at least until Mary decided to upgrade the piano from a spinet to a baby grand. Then, the piano took up half the space in the living room. The one closet in the flat was in the spare bedroom, and it was a good-sized one, big enough for all our clothes and other stuff.

We had a pretty large entrance hall, with stairs that led up to the second floor. The inside door opened into the kitchen, where we spent most of our time. We had a large round table that took up a good portion of the space. That was another thing: when we got into our house, we noticed just how small it was.

I miss the old place sometimes…

26 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Our House, In The Middle Of Our Street

    1. I did Google Maps, and saw that it’s been torn down. We sold it to someone who was going to fix it up and rent it out, and they decided it wasn’t worth the effort, I guess…

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  1. Most of us start out with just what we need to get along. Like you, I miss those early apartment days where our essentials had their place with maybe some extra space for holiday things and more.

    Life moves on and so do the “stuff” collections! I could not begin to imagine downsizing, in fact, I won’t. At some point, I won’t be here and won’t be within earshot to hear my kids complaining as they (hopefully) fight over our possessions.

    But, I do smile, looking back on those simpler times.

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  2. My husband and I started out 44 years ago in an apartment with a tiny kitchen, tiny living room, tiny bathroom, tiny bedroom, tiny closet, no garage, no central heating, and no insulation in the walls or floors. We had a space heater in the living room, but it didn’t do much for the kitchen or bedroom (we used an electric blanket to keep from freezing to death at night). The small size of the place didn’t bother me at all; we didn’t need much space for the two of us and our two cats. When we moved a year and a half later into a cute little two-bedroom Cape Cod with multiple closets and a basement and a one-car garage, I couldn’t get over how much space we had! Other people often made snarky comments about how little our house was, but we were perfectly happy with it. It was in a nice neighborhood, conveniently located, and had sufficient room for us and our new baby. We would probably have stayed there forever had our family not become too large for a two-bedroom house. I still drive by the old place occasionally and get nostalgic for it…

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    1. It’s amazing how little space someone needs to live in comfort. The apartment was plenty big enough for us and the cats, and we would probably have paid ten times what we did for a place just about as small.

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      1. I hear you. Now that we’re empty nesters living in a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house (first house I’ve ever lived in that had more than one bathroom!), and paying outrageous property taxes for the privilege, it would make a lot of sense for us to downsize to something like what we had before. If I didn’t hate moving so much, we probably would.

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  3. Our bungalow is definitely a lot bigger than the boat and suits us. We have a spare bedroom so could put someone up at a push short term, but there is no storage there or room to put a wardrobe. It’s home though. Our first house was tiny, 16 feet 8 by 13 feet 4, on two floors with a spiral staircase in one corner of the lounge and kitchen in another. Upstairs was the bedroom 13 feet 4 by 8 feet 9 with a built in wardrobe over the stairs and the hot water tank and airing cupboard on the opposite side, plus the bathroom. I hated that house from the minute I walked in and we were there for over 6 years as we got caught in negative equity. In comparison, the boat was a much better buy, even though that was only 6 feet 10 wide and 41 feet long (living space about 35 feet) as it had been well thought out, well equipped and we had space. Mind you, we’d disposed of all our furniture so it was just as well!

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    1. I know there are some people who live in mobile homes and others that converted school buses and vans into living spaces, so living on the boat probably worked out well for you, though it must have seemed a little cramped at times (and what was it like during the winter?). It must really suck to walk into a place and know for a fact you aren’t going to like it, and looking at the dimensions it look like it, too, might have fit in my living room.

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      1. The boat was actually OK once we got used to it. We didn’t have a log burner but did have central heating, though rather than run that all the time through the boiler in the winter, we bought two low wattage oil filled radiators. We put one at each end of the boat on ‘3’ (max 6) during the day and miser at night. If it got really cold (and it did sometimes especially when the water froze) we would run the heating for half an hour which was enough to keep us cosy and give us plenty of hot water.
        The box house was what they termed a cluster home, and in our case a block of 4 with everyone having corner. We bought it because our rent went up by 25% and the Poll Tax came in that year. We just didn’t have the money, but I was entitled to a mortgage subsidy so we bought a house. It was a mistake, but we learned a lot about us, living together in a confined space (boat later was therefore a doddle) and got into the habit of not spending more than we had to so that we could cover our losses and move on. It therefore became a habit to be frugal so we manage pretty well on a low income.

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  4. We moved from a 3/2 home in Jacksonville, FL to a 2/2 apartment north of Atlanta. We squeezed our furniture and stuff in it and don’t mind it a bit. It is in a gated community and we have our own garage on the premises. Home is where the heart is.

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    1. I see some of the townhouses that are considerd “senior living” here, and I could see us going to something like that, but I think we’ll stay until they have to carry us out of here…

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  5. Hi John – Interesting post – we live within what we’ve got at the time … then with luck aspire to more and achieve it. I just always relate ‘our house’ to Madness singing at the Queen’s Jubilee on top of Buckingham Palace … cheers Hilary

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