For the first five months, we lived in married student housing; despite the bad rap it gets, we absolutely loved living there. We lived on the first floor and had the closest parking spot. For the first time, I had my own kitchen (tiiiiiiiiny though it was; we also won't discuss my first cooking disaster where we discovered that our gas oven was perhaps the worst oven ever and nothing would cook evenly in it). We had one bedroom, one bathroom, and a little office with both of our desktop computers. We hung Christmas lights on our balcony. We had a fondue party for my birthday with about ten more people than the apartment could hold. We could walk to Bart's parents house for dinner. We rode our bikes to school. Friends stayed over late into the night. We loved practically every minute of it. (We also apparently took no pictures, because these are the only ones I can find and they are ones my sister took).
After Christmas, we moved into Bart's parents house. They were going to London to direct a study abroad program for six months and had graciously offered to let us live in their house rent-free (one does not refuse an offer like this, particularly when it comes with two 10 gallon barrels of chocolate chips). My sister, Merrick, and her freshman friends would come on big group dates there. One time Bart and I had invited over three other couples and then Merrick came over with nine other friends. It was a fun evening. We had many friends over for dinner. We enjoyed living in the same house with a washer and dryer. A few months later, Bart moved to Austin, and I stayed alone in the house for another five weeks until I left to join Bart's parents in London (the basement in that house freaks me out because, hello, basement and also creaking in the night; to this day I am not sure how I managed to live there alone for that long without having a heart attack).
Last July, I moved to Austin and joined Bart in the apartment he'd been living in. I brought the furniture and ended Bart's time with only an air mattress, a desk, two bar stools, and a folding chair. We loved that apartment. We'd go swimming late at night and to the gym early in the morning. We didn't love the laundry being on the opposite side of the complex or that we had to climb three flights of stairs. But we loved the big kitchen; we'd stay up late at night, making new cake recipes. We fell in love with "House" and "Smallville" in this apartment. I didn't work for a few weeks and I would stay home during the day, working on my online classes, watching "Gilmore Girls" and being free, free, free. Merrick got engaged and we spent a lot of time talking on the phone. My parents came to visit for the first time while we lived there. Eventually, though, it just got too small. And also, rent is money down a drain, folks.
Last fall, we bought our first house, which we love. It's fun to have a backyard (even if we never actually go out there). We put up our first Christmas tree, with unpainted walls and too little furniture. We bought our first lawnmower. Bart's parents came for Thanksgiving. We started making quite a lot of friends. We bought our first actual pieces of furniture (IKEA counts, right?) and painted most of the rooms. Our bedroom no longer had the desk and the love sac and the accompanying piles of junk in it. We did actual grown-up house projects like putting in a new sink.
Two nights ago, just before we went to sleep, we were talking about how much we loved our first apartment and our apartment in Texas. Both represented new beginnings, new adventures, and a new life for the two of us. Although we love our house here, I think both of us would admit that we miss our apartments, just a little bit.
"At least," Bart said, "we haven't had any homeowner-type of expenses since buying this house."
"The air conditioner is broken."
"How much did it cost?" I asked.
And then I died. And then Bart died.