I decided to take the sunshine on a trip back into the past this morning. The location I selected was the Somerset House Condominium, a brick apartment building dating from the 1960’s a short distance from my house. Thirty years ago I bought a unit here, upon the advice of my boss at work, whose mother lived there. The building was converting from rentals and I got a nice renovated apartment for a good price. It was an area of the suburbs I was not familiar with, but I must have liked it, because I’ve lived no more than 15 minutes away ever since.
I occupied the unit only about two years and then I got married. The apartment then began about 15 years of rental life – tenants including:
– one couple who barbecued on the patio (forbidden) at one AM (awfully late) and the neighbors called the fire department
– two mismatched girls who were reprising The Odd Couple (they only lasted a year together and “Oscar” confided in me that she’d like to stay in the unit but she couldn’t figure out any way to remove “Felix”, so she had to move to save her sanity)
– a family who lived there several years, paid on the dot, and stir-fried everything they ate, coating the kitchen with a layer of oil that took some serious elbow grease to clean when they moved out
– a woman who could have been featured on the TV series about hoarders; on one visit to repair something, you can imagine my surprise when I opened the doors of a double closet and saw four 6 foot high (very neat) stacks of newspapers filling it. And that was just a sample of her work.
Other highlights included two separate incidents of plumbing disaster resulting in the flooding the apartment, replacement of carpets, and so on.
We sold it about 15 years ago and I hadn’t been back since until today. It is surprisingly unchanged. The lobby has been re-decorated but the furniture is in the same arrangement. The trees are bigger but the landscaping otherwise unchanged. When I drove in I instinctively turned to the left and parked in my old favorite area. The building even still smells the same – as if someone has just made a great big pot of spaghetti and meatballs.
I took the sunshine to the outer lobby and left it on the windowsill. I noticed that today’s delivered newspapers were neatly lined up, with apartment numbers, on a bench to be picked up. I liked this evidence of trust in the community. I reflected on my time here and remembered that I had felt at home – it was the first place I owned and I was proud of it. I am glad it still seems to be this way.
More about the Sunshine Project is easy to find – look here, or search the category “Sunshine Project”.