Friday, January 15, 2016

All Day I Dream About Decks


 All I really want in life is a deck/porch/patio/balcony.

OK, OK, maybe that's not all I want in life - but it's pretty high up there.

The back deck at my mom's house is divine. Divine. There is nothing better than sitting on the porch on a sunny day, reading a book & drinking a beer. In colder weather, I retreat to the sunroom, which is insulated & heated but has that deck-in-the-winter feel. These two spaces are my favorite places in my childhood home.

Decks are the indoors moved outdoors. They allow me to go outside without having to really venture outdoors, to enjoy the weather without having the weather the elements. They are perfect.

Alas, in my adult life, I've never had the pleasure of having a deck/porch/patio/balcony of my own, & it's a conspicuous absence that I mourn regularly, especially when the weather is nice.

My first apartment was in Kent, OH, my senior year of college, & I could climb out my bedroom window to drink PBR on a small, fenced-in window ledge. Still, I wouldn't exactly call it a porch, & removing the screen on a regular basis was a real pain in the butt.

My first apartment in D.C. was called a "bachelor studio," according to the management company, & it was the equivalent of a shitty hotel room. It didn't even have a kitchen, so it certainly didn't have a balcony. My second & third apartments in D.C. were did not have luxuries such as balconies, either, although both, fortunately, had kitchens.

My apartment in Portsmouth, N.H., was on the ground floor, set halfway into the basement with the windows at ground level. Everyone above us had a balcony, & all the other buildings in our complex has first-floor patios, but we had the good fortune (blergh) of living in the one building where first-floor units had nothing but dirt & rocks outside their windows. I never once saw my upstairs neighbors use their balcony, & I regularly cursed them for squandering their actual good fortune.

My apartment in Red Bank, N.J., was in a big, old building on the Navesink River, & though it had a lovely view of the water (if you could look past the parking lot that came before it), it did not have a balcony of any sort. The backyard had a little yard with a strip of cement along the waterfront, where someone had set out chairs for relaxing & reading, but a communal patio isn't quite the same as a walk-out-your-door patio. Still, this is the closest I ever got to The Deck Dream.

My apartment upon my return to D.C. had only one window, period, & it overlooked someone else's awesome patio, so I could regularly hear their parties & drinking games. I am already prone to extreme crankiness about external noises, & the combination of that & my deep longing for a patio of my own led me to ruminate on my loathing for these neighbors with some degree of regularity.

My current apartment in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood is in an old house, with four residential units & a storefront below me. My unit has big, beautiful bay windows that open out when it's warm, but I have no porch, patio, or balcony. Last summer, I set up a folding beach chair on the small strip of grass outside the building, reading a book in the sun while I waited for a maintenance guy to show. Though it was relaxing, it had a distinctly hillbilly vibe.

The unit behind mine, though, has the holy grail: a private deck. It's up high, with a perfect view of downtown Cleveland, & it's big, too. It's beautiful. And I want it so badly.

My neighbors just moved out, so that apartment is for rent. Mike & I seriously considered moving from our current place to that one, just schlepping our stuff across the hall & settling in there instead. We'd be giving up a parking space but gaining a deck, which seems like a winning trade, given all the outdoor reading & writing we could do.

I literally dream about this deck, you guys.

Alas, the rent is $100 more than what I currently pay, which is already slightly too much. My landlord didn't seem too keen on the switch, either, quickly reminding me what a pain it is to move (a pain I know well, given all the moves I just recounted for you here). And I like my current apartment - love it, even, despite my many frustrations with living in an old, individually owned building. I love my bay windows & the furniture layout I've finally decided on, &... everything, really. Everything is in place. This apartment finally feels like home, & I don't want to move again, even if it's just 20 feet away.

But the deck. The deck.

Yes, the apartment behind me is for rent, & someone will move into it soon, & every time my windows are open this summer such that I hear them puttering around on their deck, I am going to kick myself. I am going to dream of decks forever & ever, until the day comes that I can claim one as my own.

And until then, you can find me on sunny days, sitting in the front yard like a hillbilly.

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