September 14, 2009

My First Apartment.

Yesterday, while cleaning out my kitchen cabinets, I stumbled upon some old wine glasses. These were a part of so called "start pack", purchased in IKEA some twenty years ago, when I moved away from home for the first time - and for good. I was twenty something, I had finished school and I have started to work. I thought it was time to start my own life, in fact I longed to do that. If felt right in every way.

In the beginning of 1989, I found a short add in the news paper about a little apartment for rent. I recall it as if it was yesterday, when my father took me to see what would become my first own home.

Located in the opposite part of town, I moved, quiet unintentionally, as far away from my family as I could. A first, significant sign of what was to come.

I was in a very proximity of the ocean, on a quiet street in one of the best neighborhoods in the city. The small - or rather tiny - apartment was located on the second floor of a set of red brick houses, built in the 50's.
The place could easily fit into my current living room and there would probably still be some square meters left free. Consisting of one single room, one toilet, a shower inside a walk-in closet an a kitchen quite literally inside a closet, it was the smallest place I have ever lived in by then or since. Still, it seemed to have everything I needed and I loved it and my new found freedom that came with it. It even had a small balcony, facing the backyard, which I often used in the summers and where I planted my first plants, way before I became an avid gardener decades later.

It was one of the first significant milestones in my life, when I received the keys and moved in. I recall packing my small room in my parents place into boxes and relocating my few belongings into the 22 square meters (236 square feet), that would be my home for the next three years.

I guess, one can say I did grow into an adult during that short time. I experienced a time of enlightenment, when I started to discovered who I was and what I wanted out of life.
Every day, when it took me over an hour to get to work I was dreaming about a car. When the thin plastic of heavy grocery bags cut into my fingers, while I was walking back home during winter evenings, I used to look up at the dark sky, and the flickering navigation lights of planes, taking off at the nearby international airport. I dreamed about far away places, that were yet to be discovered by me and wondered if I ever was to board the planes flying south or west, towards future adventures of my life.
At the end of each month, when my salary check arrived and it again reinforced the fact, that I could never afford a bigger apartment, a car or take part in any exciting travels, I knew then, that I wanted more out of life. I only needed the right opportunity to present itself to me, the one which would offer a change. I knew I was only waiting. And I knew it was coming.

I made many sweet and precious memories while dreaming my days away in this first apartment of mine. I guess mostly, that despite my dreaming, I never stopped living. It was a time of care free years, when I had the privilege of a young, unblemished mind and held a curiosity to discover the world, with all the optimism and fearless joy that used to encompass me. Today it amazes me, how much actually did happened in my life in the span of those three years, a time that feels so short in my eyes today.

It was also here, when the opportunity I was waiting for, did occur during an early spring three years later. I took the decision to leave Sweden and move away from my family and everything I knew, across the Atlantic Ocean to the US. A move, that changed my life in such a drastic way - and in every way - it almost felt as it happened by a stroke of magic.

But that is an entirely different story all together.

24 comments:

Rajesh said...

The first stay on our own away from loved ones is always special. It has lot of anxiety, uneasiness, happiness, sadness all feeling mixed in one cocktail.

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

How well you capture those first feelings of the yearn for independence. Good photo too!

steviewren said...

I enjoyed reading about your move into independence and your 1st years on your own. Please tell more.

My first move from home was as a married woman...girl...I was very young. We lived in a basement apartment. It wasn't as small as yours but the bathroom was sinkless because it was tiny. You had to use the kitchen sink to brush your teeth.

Jill said...

What great memories and I remember well my first apartment...not so nice...but still home!

Rosezilla said...

Look at you in the picture, so young and full of optimism! I moved away for the first time at barely 18 after my wedding. I actually picked up my few belongings and carried them - to the house behind my parents' house, lol! It was small but we began raising 3 lively boys there. Then after 15 years - we bought a house - across the street! Not exactly world travelers, but we're happy. (Actually we both had been moved around enough when we were young, we were happy to stay put in our very own house.)

Michael Manning said...

You are still young, Protege! And I admire the optimism and glow you continue to have, as it shines through in your writing. This sounds like the beginning of a wonderful series and it brought me back to many memories in my own life.
Happiness to You!
Michael

Keera Ann Fox said...

Funny, your first apartment would fit into my living room, too! My living room happens to be my first home by myself, also. I moved so much as a kid, I was happy to settle down in my own place at age 25 and, so far, not move again.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

I quess in the 1990 picture it's you!!

Brian Miller said...

what wonderful memories...my first apartment was a converted hunting shack that three of us guys rented out. no heat other than the fireplace, cider block shower...nothing matched but little did we care...i grew up a lot there as well. thanks for bringing that back. smiles.

Sumandebray said...

Being on your own and taking care of all the bills is really a great experience! That already is acting like a grown up. You took me back in time.... In 1990 we 4 freinds came up to Delhi from Calcutta for our cumpulsory professional training for 6 months before we coould go back to college and complete our bachelor degree.
Its truly was a time .. when we look back now it reminds us that we had so little of everything in those days but immeasurable quantity of hope and confidence that we shall survive!
All the best!

Keith said...

Hey there. Great post. I enjoyed it. I hope your week got off to a fantastic start. Thanks for stopping by and commenting at my blog. Take care. Cheers!

gaelikaa said...

It must be really exciting to leave home and have your very own living space. I've always lived with parents/in laws. But I would never fear living alone - wherever I am I create my living space, with my books, my music, my computer.....whether you live alone or with others, your own space is so essential!

Hilary said...

We must have been on a similar wavelength yesterday. I too, was cleaning out my kitchen cupboards (among other spaces) and came across a number of memories tucked away with one item or another. As I read your story, I thought about my first apartment too, and how long ago that was. Fifteen years earlier than the date on your photo! Yikes.. I must be old!

I love that one of the things you bought for yourself was wine glasses though. I never had that much class when I was first on my own. :)

Thanks for sharing your memories, Z. :)

Protege said...

=Rajesh,
so right you are, it is a mix of all those things.;)
xo

=Joanne,
thank you,I am happy you enjoyed reading this - you are always so kind.;)) xo

=stevie,
ah, glad this brought back your own memories; how strange and exciting it must have been to have left home so young and married.;)
So happy to see you back!;) Love he new profile photo.;))xo

=Jill,
yes, exactly, no matter how bad, it was still a home.;)) I think with a little effort a home can be anywhere.;) xo

=Rosezilla,
you have one of those lives that I envy; staying so close to your home and family - and having a lovely family as well. I have missed that all my life and even if I have experienced a lot, at times, in the end of the day, I feel alone...
Always so glad when you stop by.;)) xo

=Michael,
thank you, you are so kind.;) Everything is relative right? I am sure your past is filled with many interesting stories.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by.;))

=Keera,
I can so identify with the moving around as a kid; I did too. It makes for a lot of experiencing, but leave you a bit rootless too.
Are you happy with the the Norwegian election outcome, by the way?;))
Have a great Tuesday.;) xo

=Phillip,
yes, it is me, way back when!;))
Appreciate your visit.;)

=Brian,
I am happy that I brought on your own memories that made you smile. Isn't it just strange, how little we nededed then to be happy? And how everything, at all times, felt fresh, new and exciting...
Thank you so much for stopping by.;))

=Sumandebray,
I share your sentiments completely; you always sum it up so eloquently.;) Where did it all go, right? It went by so fast, yet it feel like ages ago. Sometimes it is good to re-visit ones young mind. Puts things into perspective...
Always enjoy your visits.;))

=Keith,
thank you so much and likewise.;)) Glad you stopped by.;)

=gaelikaa,
so right you are; it is essential that we create are own space, whether it is just a corner of a room.;))
Thank you for always taking the time to stop by.;)) xo

=Hilary,
yo are back!:)) So happy that you enjoyed this walk down the memory lane and that it brought back some sentimental and lovely memories of your own.
Not so sure about my class back then, but I tried.;)
Love your visits at all times, my friend, I really missed you.;))
xoxo

Gal Friday said...

Great post and writing, Zuzana. You made me remember my own first apartment and the whole experience of living on my own for the first time--something I had not thought of in a long time.
You also made me remember that youthful feeling of endless opportunity before us and total lack of fear.

Keera Ann Fox said...

At this time in history, the election results leave me feeling relieved.

Diane said...

I love this post. I think I've spent too much time dreaming and not enough living... I need to make some adjustments.

Claus said...

I often wonder what it would be like to be on my own. I still live at home, and it is something quite normal and usual in this country. And though I think of adventures and the "unknown", I have to say that I am quite content with where I am today. It was a touching entry Zuzana, and though back in 1990 I still was in school, not knowing what I wanted from life, you did make me remember about how eager I was to finish and begin a new phase. Music, movies, even fashion came running back! :-)

Julie Hibbard said...

Wow wow wow!!! I love this! And your photographs are legendary! I love your stories! (And I love IKEA!)
:)

sujata said...

That picture is so pretty, love that long hair of yours!! Yah the first of anything is great, so am sure the apartment holds a special place!!

Protege said...

=Tina,
yes, that is it! The total lack of fear... How in the world did we do it? I was not afraid of anything, nor comprehensive about changes. I just dared to do things. Like moving all across the ocean on my own into the unknown. I would NEVER do that now.;))
Great comment my friend.;) xo

=Keera,
happy to hear that.;))

=Diane,
dreaming is good though.;) It would be worse if you did not do any dreaming nor living at all.;))
xo

=Claudia,
wow, you must be so happy and content, never alone... Your family always close by.. I almost can not imagine how that feels. I am often alone, being so far away from the man I love, my parents and my sister. Although I am fine most of the time, occasionally it is difficult...
Always appreciate your visits and the wise things you say, dear friend.;) xo

=Julie,
so glad you enjoyed this; you are always so positive.;)) It is contagious.;))
xo

=sujata,
thank you, that was kind of you.;) I agree, everything that is new is exciting and leaves everlasting memories.;))
xo

swenglishexpat said...

It is just so funny. There you are, in a part of Malmö that I know so well. When I left home (in the more affluent part of town) I used to live in sub-letted flats (in other people's flats), in Roslins väg and Tessins väg, where my old mum still lives. Then, when I eventually put my name to a contract for my first own flat, I moved east, close to Folkets Park. If I am not wrong, we moved in roughly opposite directions, albeit at different times. I even recognise the type of blocks of flats in your photographs. I can almost guess which streets it might be!

But now, we both have seen the world and live in yet another foreign place. It is truly fascinating how life moves on and you find yourself (perhaps even at your age) looking back thinking, how did all this happen? Right?!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend Protege! Simma lugnt!

Baron's Life said...

I am not sure how I missed this exciting post...full of memories..belongings all packed in a few boxes, proximity to Ocean..and the decision to move to the US...tell us more....please...
BTW.. you look very sexy in the photo...and you still are...!
Cheers

Protege said...

=swenglishexpat,
I think you are right! How extraordinary it is to meet someone here that lived so close once in the same town, but now have also traveled the world.;)
I know where Folkets Park is.;) I lived close to "Caroli City", with my parents and then moved to Limham, while I kept working in Lund.

I hope your weekend is great as well, always enjoy your visits.;)

=Baron's Life,
I am glad you do not find the stories of my life boring.;)) And I will be happy to tell you more about my move to US in the future.;))
And thank you for that compliment; a woman always likes to hear that.;)