Some time after my fourth heart surgery, I was finally allowed to start having a normal life again. I did what I should have done almost a year earlier and dumped my boyfriend, T, and moved out.
We had both been biding our time since I had initially gotten sick. Sometimes an illness can bring people together and bring out the best in someone. For, T, my illness was a huge hassle.
He hated everyone always wanting to talk about me. He hated having to visit me in the hospital (and didn’t do it very often). And he hated the way I wasn’t fun anymore. I could barely walk for months.
My sickness was probably the worst thing to ever happen to him. But I get it, we weren’t in love. Dating me was fine when I was fun, but when things got too real, he couldn’t handle it.
To be honest, our relationship was the worst I have ever been in. And I have been in some bad ones. Being sick kept me there as I literally was not capable of leaving. We were together for almost 4 years.
When I moved out, I was broke and physically very weak still. I had missed a lot of work and it took a financial toll. I needed some place cheap.
I was so broke that for that entire year, I would have to make a decision when buying my groceries. I could splurge on one thing a week. I usually had to decide if I wanted strawberries or lasagna. Strawberries won most weeks.
Yum! Food porn!
I was 27 and had never lived alone before. I always had a roommate or a boyfriend. And I had gotten rid of all my furniture when I moved in with T.
I found a furnished apartment across the street from the beach in a fairly bad neighborhood. It was a basement apartment in a house that had been converted into 3 apartments.
Basement apartments are almost unheard of in Florida, and this one was on a sloping property. The windows in the living room and bathroom were on the level with the ground. It was under 500 sq ft. Maybe even under 400 sq ft.
The ceilings were only 7ft, which is freakily low for someone over 6ft tall like me. Being on the beach meant everything was always wet. I had to mop the ceiling with bleach on a regular basis to keep the mold growth down.
The living room was the length of a couch and had a TV on the opposite wall, 5 ft away. The bathroom was smaller than a walk in closet. And I am pretty sure the building was built on an ancient ant burial ground. It was haunted with the ghosts of thousands of ants. I would find their corpses in piles, like tiny snowdrifts, all over the apartment. When I first moved in had thought their small crunching bodies were actually beach sand blown or tracked in.
They were mostly concentrated in the bathroom for some reason.
This was also where I had to take my laundry to a laundromat once a week. I know I have mentioned it several times. It was next to a seedy beachside bar.
But the price was right. The door locked. And I was safe inside. I had my first apartment.
There were two other apartments in the same house as me. The one directly above me was empty for the whole year I lived there. Sometimes at night I would lie in bed and hear things moving around up there. I blamed it on my disturbingly vivid imagination.
In the other apartment there lived three Czechoslovakian people. Two were married to each other and the third was a female friend. I said hello to the friend a few times. None of them spoke English. After a few months I stopped seeing the wife. The husband and the friend had been having an affair and the wife moved back home to the Czech Republic.
There was an abandoned hotel across the street. It was a towering building about 40 stories, right on the beach. There were broken windows and on breezy days I could see the curtains waving in some of the rooms. It was like a scene from a post apocalyptic movie. I heard hobos would break in and squat in the lower levels. I never wanted to find out.
Pretty similar to this creepy thing.
Directly in front of my apartment was an empty lot. It was fenced off and for sale. Another condo waiting to be built. The lot was white sand, broken glass, and sand spurs. I could see the ocean between the buildings.
There was a house next to mine, on the other side of a private road. The set up was similar to my house. Several people lived in that basement apartment. They would sit outside drinking and smoking all night, every night.
A few days after moving in, I smelled the unmistakable smell of meth coming from that apartment. I knew the smell well as some neighbors had a meth lab at a previous apartment with a previous boyfriend. When they got busted, the cops said it was the largest meth lab they had ever seen. I quickly decided to avoid those neighbors.
I actually loved living there. I loved the freedom of being alone. I recovered well and gained back a lot of the strength I had lost during the past year.
When Christmas rolled around I was dating a new guy, M. He had lived in Japan for several years and was always talking about the buckwheat pillows they used there. I decided to buy him one for Christmas.
I find them uncomfortable.
One day, just before the holiday, I saw that my pillow had been delivered and that a neighbor had signed for it. I brought the tag over to the new Czech couple, but they pretended to not know what I was talking about.
I was confused and upset. The pillow hadn’t been cheap. And now someone had stolen it. I had no other neighbors that could have signed for it and I had no other gift for M.
One of the meth neighbors came running over as I trudged down the hill back to my apartment. He was clearly doing meth. The skin condition is unmistakable.
“Hey! We signed for a box for you today! Come on over and get it.”
I was hesitant to go into their apartment. What if the police chose that exact moment to bust them? Would I be taken to jail? Would I get fired?
I reluctantly followed him across the street. I waited in the living room while he went back into his bedroom to get it. I have no idea why it was in his bedroom. There were about 6 people in this dimly lit living room. People were lying on couches, chairs, the floor. Every surface was covered with bodies. And they all smelled awful.
The guy gave me my box and asked if I wanted to stay and have a drink. I practically ran from that apartment.
A few days later, I was making cookies to take to work. I created my own peanut butter cookie recipe that is amazing. My cookies are so good, that one time I had brought them to work and someone stole them off someone else’s desk and it turned into this huge investigation. HR was brought in for a resolution. It was insane.
HR resolution cookies.
I decided to make a few to bring to my meth neighbors. I thought it would be a nice thank you to them since they had kept my package safe.
I made a dozen to bring to them. I used my fanciest homemaker skills and wrapped them in a white linen napkin and tied it with a fancy bow. I brought them over to my neighbors.
I’m capable of being pretty fancy.
They thanked me and after that would give me enthusiastic hellos anytime they saw me. But they never returned my napkin.
UPDATED: I’m including the recipe for Jana. But I am going to assume you guys know how to make cookies, in general.
1 stick butter (softened)
1 1/4 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. white sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
peanut butter chips
Refrigerate batter for an hour before rolling into balls and cooking for 10 min at 375.
If any of you make them, let me know how you like them!