Now I myself live in an apartment building, and there is a compassion and acceptance you have to have for a certain level of annoyance. It’s people in close proximity to each other, and so there will be some things that you don’t like, and still have to let go.
Cecil Baldwin, Welcome to Night Vale
There is a freedom to living on your own. A freedom that everyone should enjoy, for at least a little while.
There is something to be said about coming home to a place just as you left it, of being able to put into it exactly what you want, how you want. No permission has to be asked for company, or volume or dirty dishes.
But just because you are not living with someone does not mean you are living alone. An apartment resides in an apartment building made up of other people. Which means, you are still technically sharing.
My apartment is the perfect size—not too big and not too small. It is in the perfect location, right across from the train station and is a five to 10 minute walk from downtown. (Or at least the street that qualifies as “downtown” in Evreux.) The rent is not too expensive, utilities are included and it’s furnished. According to my criteria when apartment searching, it’s pretty close to perfect.
But when you take a tour of an apartment, you do not get to stay overnight. You don’t get to know truly how thin the walls are or how the neighbors address that fact. You do not get to learn how late they stay awake. You don’t get to hear how when you flush the toilet, everyone in the building knows.
I knew that there would be a catch to my new place. Since I had a bank account, everything passed pretty smoothly at the agency after the tour. I hadn’t really known what to look out for, and the main things—plumbing, infestation (or lack of), and location all checked out. And like I said, you can’t really know what the neighbors are like just based on a tour. (I’ll ask next time.)
A place does not become home until you know it is a place where you can truly unwind. It is absent of the stress that comes with a daily commute, a job, or even having to deal with family or friends (if they happen to exhaust you). From personal experience, you need peace to call somewhere (or someone) home.
When there is no personal connection between you and the people you share a living space with, it is harder to find this peace. You aren’t used to their peculiarities, or how they respond to yours.
(Especially when living in an older building), you are forced to adjust, sometimes quite harshly, to the fact that other people inhabit this world. When that building is in a country other than your own, those adjustments might come more unexpectedly.
So finally, after about a week, I find myself settling in to these thin walls and the ghosts that may or may not be coming and going through them.*
I have learned to let things go and let this be my home.
*That’s another story