Jennifer LaRue

I write it as I see it.

Thank goodness I love my little condo.

I have barely ventured forth in the past 8 weeks, leaving my apartment no more than once a day, usually not at all.

Yes, that means that, disgustingly enough, I let my aged dog, Kitty, do her thing on the floor. It’s easy to clean up; it’s all part of the new normal.

I might go out more, but people in my building are frustratingly uneven in their adherence to the clearly spelled-out rules. Most seem to be honoring them, but there are enough scofflaws to make me nervous.

Four and a half years ago, I had made up my mind to leave my marriage, leave the rural suburban home in which I had helped raise my wonderful kids, to take up life in the city. Mary Richards was always my role model, and since I was a child, I coveted her apartment, her independence.

I looked at all kinds of dwellings, under the guidance of a Realtor who just didn’t get it. Then, I found an awesome real estate agent, who told me about the building in which I now live. We met in the lobby, took the elevator to the 8th floor, and unlocked the door.

I immediately knew I had found my new home.

My place is just the right size and shape for me. It has parquet floors and gas cooking. It faces south and west and gets all the best light. It has a balcony overlooking the country-club setting, one of Hartford’s best-kept secrets, of the area surrounding our gorgeous, full-length pool. It is, frankly, a mid-century modern dream come true.

But the element that gave me the most visceral sense of having found my true home was this: the oven, original to the 1963 opening of our building, was the exact same oven we had in our kitchen in the home in Rockville, Maryland, where I grew up and where my mother still lives, built that same year. The sight of it almost made me gasp with recognition, fondness, and nostalgia.

I have, honestly, been through hell and back in the four years since I moved in. But I am happier than I have ever been. Just as Mary Richards marked her space by hanging a big letter M on her wall, I have hung a big letter J on mine.

Tonight, after a challenging but rewarding day’s work, I grilled a steak, sauteed some spinach, microwaved some Trader Joe’s mashed potatoes. (Which are surprisingly delicious.) While cleaning up, I noticed, for the first time, the inscription below the narrow window into my Caloric oven.

“OBSERVADOR.”

How perfectly 1960s. How absolutely naive. How shamelessly optimistic.

How tragically, hopefully, confusingly emblematic of a time now long gone, never again to be relevant.

Somehow it makes me glad to be cloistered in my little 1960s time capsule. A girl can pretend that everything’s okay here, you know.

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