After two weeks of drama and multiple relocations, I am finally back in my apartment. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I walked through the door of my unaffected, but much missed apartment. Upon my return to my humble abode, I have learned a few things:
- One way to remove the smoke smell from a fire-affected building is to put ozone machines around and let them run for 24 hours to deodorize the area. However, now, instead of smelling like smoke, the common areas of the building now smell like a dentist’s office– that weird bubble gum flouride scent. It gave me a headache just walking back and forth from the car to my apartment while I was moving back in. Maybe I would be less affected if I was a dentist.
- When they say you should properly defrost your fridge when turning it off for an extended period of time, they really mean it. Despite the apartment management company entering the apartment earlier this week to empty the fridge of perishable items (i.e., almost everything save a few bottles of champagne and some cans of Diet Coke), the fridge did suffer from the sudden lack of electricity for over a week. I had a fair amount of bagged ice in the freezer and that not just melted, but leaked down into the regular fridge section, leaving a nice little puddle to clean up under and in the crisper drawers. And, even if your fridge is pretty clean, there is invariably some food molecules and such that end up lingering on the shelf surfaces and if there’s no power and therefore no refrigeration, those tiny molecules will end up spoiling and necessitating some cleanup. That was fun.*
- Keep your sink clean of dirty dishes. There were only a few, but any lingering milk from your coffee or morning cereal will create a nice little petri dish surprise when you get back two weeks later. Yay for bleach and other harsh cleaning chemicals.
- Plants need to be watered regularly. Seriously. My several window boxes of pansies weren’t doing that great in the first place, but they seemed to have made it through the worst especially since it rained during the second week of my absence and they are out far enough on the balcony to actually catch some rain. However, I have two very sad, very dehydrated variegated ginger plants. But I think they’re resilient– they were once one medium-sized (but still expensive) plant that over the course of six months, grew big enough to become two large plants. They are as tall as me! Granted I am a small person, but if I were a house plant, I would be a relatively big one.
- Tivo is, in fact, one of the greatest things ever. When the power turned back on sometime late Tuesday, it just went back to doing it’s thing. So, when I returned, there was almost a week full of my favorite TV shows waiting for me, including new episodes of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and this week’s Law & Order SVU.
- Whatever time of day, wherever you are, there is always an episode of Law & Order on . This is something I realized not when I moved back home, but as I relocated around and didn’t have my hundreds of DirecTV channels. I think I may have watched more episodes of this show in the past two weeks than I have in all of the years prior. Between reruns on TBS, TNT and USA, this has got to be the most frequently run show in history. And I never get tired of it. I still watched three Tivo-ed episodes today when I returned home.
So, it was not the worst time of my life, but this was perhaps one of the most frustrating and unsettling two weeks of my life. I love to spend time in my apartment and I love to spend time alone. I have lived in this particular apartment for a year and a half now, but I have worked hard to make it exactly the way I want it, from decorating and redecorating to setting up all the little amenities that have become an integral part of my daily life and routine. And suddenly, when I was faced with the reality that I was not going to be able to live in that home I had created for an undetermined amount of time, a frustration, stress and sadness hung over my head constantly. Yes, I had somewhere to stay, complete with all the modern conveniences of life including cable TV and high-speed Internet, but it is difficult to go through every day without a place to call home, to call your own, to know where you are going to go at the end of the day and know that it isn’t just a temporary resting place. I felt always out of place with a forced loneliness and need. I felt unsafe. I know my brief experience does not even begin to compare to what actually homeless and disadvantaged people experience, but I have learned to truly appreciate my home even more after whatever slight taste of the experience I have had.
But now, I’m tucked back in my own bed with fresh sheets and my beloved comforter. And I’d just like to thank the manager and the staff at the Hilton Garden Inn (Mountain View) for being sympathetic and a great hotel staff and hotel in general. And thanks to my manicurist and friend for being sympathetic, for getting angry and worked up on my behalf, and for getting me the name of a personal injury lawyer just in case. And finally, thanks to my friend for letting me stay with him in his one-room palace when I didn’t want to stay in the other hotel they switched me to because I didn’t feel safe and for making me feel safe and at home.
* Did you ever notice that “fridge” is spelled with a “d,” but “refrigerator” (for which fridge is an abbreviation) and “refrigeration” are not? Ah, the eccentrities of the English language.