Letters is a bi-weekly series on Just a Trace where I write out my feelings to the people, places and events in my life via letters. Each post in the letters series will contain a new letter on a new topic, and although these thoughts and feelings come from me, don’t be surprised if you can relate. Read all previous Letters here.
Dear Basement Apartment,
A lot of people will read this and think, “How can a modest basement apartment be worthy of a letter?” To that I say, you came at a time when I needed you the most and you created a sense of independence and a feeling of home that I was searching for. You came at a time when I was virtually alone in a big city. A time when I decided to take charge of my life. I had lost my first love, was living with a roommate I didn’t get along with and was away from my whole family and all my friends.
You helped me create the life I wanted and the life that I deserved. I remember the day I said enough was enough. I looked at my savings, my earnings and my budget and determined how much I could afford to move out of the apartment I shared with my roommate. I looked at what area of the city spoke to my heart and I set up appointments to look at apartments. Yes, I was scared going alone and making what seemed like a huge decision on my own, but I did it.
I vividly remember taking the subway after work all the way across town to the west end to that quiet street filled with homes, homes that were filled with families. I was so nervous, but I knocked on the door of that house, did my best to appear confident, and saw a man in a business suit vacuuming his floor at 6:00 PM on weekday through the window. I knew when I saw this that I would be fine. I mean, unless he was vacuuming up remains of his latest victim, I don’t think anything could go wrong. I was right. From the instant I met Stan, who would become my landlord, I was overwhelmed with his kindness. He took me down to that basement apartment and the moment I saw it I knew I was home.
The story doesn’t end there, no that is just the beginning. I wasn’t the only one that wanted this apartment so Stan wanted a reference. My boss to be exact. Here’s the clincher. I just wrapped up working for a verbally abusive, notoriously horrendous boss, and had just transferred down to working for a brand new team. Literally I had just met these people a few weeks ago. At the same time, my old roommate was making it super difficult for me to be able to move out, bullying me and refusing to sign documents to let me out of the lease. Plus, we worked in the same office…oh and remember, I just broke up with my ex of three years and was pretty much gutted and no faith in the entire male population? So there’s that.
So off I went to one of my new bosses, who I had just started working for about three weeks earlier. A young male lawyer in his mid-twenties like me and I explained the situation. I was trying to get a new apartment and the landlord needed a reference of an employer and would he be able to vouch that I am a functioning member of society? He said sure and I passed along his number to Stan.
Later that day, I saw Stan’s number pop up on my boss’ extension and I heard him answer. His office was a bit down the hall from my desk so I sneakily crept down there and listened from a few feet away. I heard my boss gushing about me. He said I was a kind, quiet and polite person. I was an incredibly hard worker and that I showed up for work early everyday and didn’t leave until he and the team were taken care of. I heard him say, “Without her I would be lost. She is the best thing that has happened to me and you would be insane not to give her the apartment. You would regret giving it to anyone else, believe me.” In that moment, I forgot all about getting the apartment. Tears began streaming down my face because in that instant, my faith in men was restored. Not only was this a man who was my boss, who really had nothing to gain by saying these things about me or taking time out of his busy day to field this personal favour for me, but he had my back. We barely knew each other and he was doing everything is his power to help me. I knew in that minute that I wasn’t going to be alone in this city for much longer.
Literally fifteen minutes later, Stan called and said the apartment was mine. I moved a month later. Stan was always there to help me out. As a woman living alone in the city, I always felt safe. I knew he was always there to help me as well. My boss and I became really, really close friends, like siblings. A part of me thinks he needed me too. I never told him that I heard him on the phone that day.
I remember moving. My parents and brother came to help me and after a long day of unpacking and building furniture they left to return back home about an hour away. I sat alone in my new home. It was quiet. It was mine. That apartment taught me what it meant to be an independent woman, to take care of myself, to always aspire for more. It taught me that if you don’t like your story, write a new one. The easy choice would have been to stay with my roommate, coexist and not rock the boat. The hard choice was to pack up and try something new, which is what I did and I never looked back.
A Basement Apartment Tenant
Have an idea for a letter you want me to write or would you like to be a guest writer and share your own letter? Leave a comment below or email me at: Tracey@JustaTraceBlog.com. All guest submissions have the choice to remain anonymous.