I don’t like mice. I’m a bit better now, but at the time my dislike bordered on being a phobia. As for cockroaches, this was my first experience with them. On my first night in the apartment, I swear, both groups sent out welcoming parties.
But a writer and a musician, living in the city, getting their first apartment together, it has to have cockroaches and mice, right? To be honest, had I have known, I would have tried to avoid the cliché. But it was an adventure.
Aside from the apartment being small, dirty and coming with its own pets, I later discovered that our next door neighbour was a guy on probation who liked to play his music, loud, at 3 a.m. I know this only because later, when Jordy was in the apartment with me, she woke me up to ask me if the music was bothering me.
After I went to talk to the gentleman, at 3 a.m., Jordy asked me, “What was he like?”
“Not very friendly,” I said.
“I wondered,” she said. “I heard he was on probation.”
“Really?” I said. “You know, that may have been something you should have told me before I knocked on his door at 3 a.m.”
Next time his music came through our bedroom wall in the middle of the night, and Jordy woke me up to see if it was bothering me, I decided it’d be best to let the police handle it.
The couple downstairs had schizophrenia. However, they were delightful when on their meds. In fact the only reason I knew they had schizophrenia was that one time the man came upstairs and yelled at me for purposely walking loudly to irritate him and his girlfriend. He later apologized and explained his, and his girlfriend’s, illness and told me that they had gone off their medication for a little while but were back on it. He invited me into their apartment to show me their artwork; they were both painters, and talented ones at that.
The landlord lived across the hall from us, with his wife and two kids, in an apartment not much bigger than ours. Anytime I felt like complaining about not having enough space I’d look at them and regain some perspective.
I went to the landlord and talked about the mice. He said he was doing the best he could.
“But some of those mice . . . I swear they have university degrees,” he said. “They’re very clever.”
I asked if I could use his tools and some of the lumber that was in the back. He said sure. I was on a mission to find every hole, in our apartment, that was big enough for a mouse to enter through (which is less than the size of a dime, btw) and seal it.
No more mice.
I thought I’d pretty much taken care of the cockroaches, too, but when we went to move out, years later, I took the pot holder off the wall and saw that the back of it was coated in cockroach droppings. So much for my and Jordy’s mosaic.
Funny thing is, I loved that little apartment. The location couldn’t have been better for Jordy and I, at that time in our lives. And the low rent meant we could afford to go out, a lot, and there was loads to explore and experience within walking distance. The neighbourhood was cheap, too.
A lot happened in our time there, good and bad. One of the worst things came first.