When Riel carried me across the threshold of our first home, it took him four steps to cross the entire space. It was 340 square feet.
There was zero counter space in the kitchen. For a while we had the microwave on the floor. I had to chop vegetables on our dining room table which was also a desk, a nightstand, and a coffee table (It was a drop leaf table, like this one).
It’s a good thing we were newly-weds when we lived in our “box,” as we called it. There was no space for alone time – unless we wanted to hide in the bathroom which was almost small enough to shower while sitting on the toilet.
Have you ever stormed out as a tactic during a fight? Try storming out into the bathroom. “Oh, yeah?! Well, I’m going to brush my teeth for fifteen minutes and there’s nothing you can do about it!” Stomp, stomp, stomp, SLAM. Take that.
Our box was on the second floor of a very old building in a notoriously unsafe neighborhood. We couldn’t have company because there was no parking. Not to mention people thought they might be stabbed. I used to pull up to the apartment and call Riel to walk me in because he didn’t want me walking up alone.
In the six months that we lived in the apartment, there were three fires. All of them were in the middle of the night. When the first fire alarm went off at 2 A.M. sometime in April, I woke up with my shoes and coat on in the hallway. Riel’s protective instincts had kicked in and he was guiding me down the stairs to the courtyard.
After the first fire, it became a routine. The firemen, who promptly extinguished each fire, began to recognize us. Riel and I joked that I needed to sleep with my jeans on so that we didn’t have to choose between burning to death and going outside in my Disneyland pajama shorts.
The apartment wasn’t entirely miserable. Our neighbor to the right had a fabulous singing voice. Though we never learned her name, we enjoyed listening to her through the wall. And though the kitchen was tiny, we did cook our first meals as a couple there. Tacos and fried rice were the only foods we could agree on.
All in all, I’m grateful for that less-than-ideal apartment. The inexpensive rent was part of the reason we could afford to start a life together in the first place. 340 square feet of our own was infinitely better than living with mom and dad!