Friday, March 23, 2012

Seeking Sweet Sanctuary


I  was awakened at 4 a.m. by the Dumpster lid being thrown open. Again.

Sometimes this occurs several times a night when people who are down on their luck rummage through my apartment building's enormous recycling and garbage bins searching for bottles and cans to redeem for cash. Perhaps they're even looking for food. That's sobering. Even heartbreaking.

But the bins are located immediately below my living room window, so mostly it's a nuisance.

When the crash woke me the first night in my apartment, my first thought was that someone had broken down my apartment door. Now that I've endured these nightly interruptions for three months, I just roll over and try to go back to sleep.

If I can't go back to sleep, I grab my laptop and write.

This morning I couldn't find sleep again. If I weren't so exhausted, I would be giddy. Today I am moving from this noisy apartment to my new home, which I refer to as the Duplex of my Dreams. Never did I believe a 1,000-square-foot duplex could be sanctuary to me.

Five months ago, I was a homeowner with a good job that paid a living wage. When I was laid off, I had to sell my house immediately before it became a short sale. A week before Christmas, I moved into this diminuitive one-bedroom apartment.

At the time, it was a sanctuary. I needed to move quickly, and of all the apartments I looked at, this one was clearly the best in my price range.

But I hadn't lived in an apartment for more than two decades, and the transition from quiet nights in a house to interrupted slumber in this apartment has taken its toll. Even with ideal sleep conditions, I am an insomniac. Most people likely could sleep through the noises that have robbed my sleep and frayed my edges. But I am a light sleeper.

After three months of o'dark thirty Dumpster action outside my front door and my oblivious, noisy neighbor whose television blares all night through our common bedroom walls, the sleeplessness has worn me out.

Now that I am working again, sleep is essential. So even though I will lose my hefty deposit, I am moving today to a quiet duplex in my old residential neighborhood sans Dumpster and noisy neighbors. The tenant on the other side of my duplex is an older single woman who owns a cat.

This apartment has its charms. Built in 1928, it has hardwood floors, French doors and a cozy gas fireplace. It's in the heart of a trendy commercial district with coffee shops, ethnic restaurants, antique stores and a tattoo parlor just across the alley from my living room windows.

If I were 25, this would be the ideal place to live. It has a great vibe and so much to do. The tattoo parlor is so close that I could get a tattoo practically by just sticking my arm out my window. Alas, I am not 25, and I don't want a tattoo. I just want to sleep soundly.

My new home also has charm. Built in the 1940s, it has hardwood floors, built-ins, windows for glorious natural light, a humongous kitchen, oodles of storage space and even a private, tiny backyard with a patio and garden space. My new sanctuary.

For the past three months, my cat, Anakin Skywalker, has been forced to be an indoor kitty. Now he can find his own santctuary by escaping the confines of the house to lie in the sun.

My new place is also within easy walking distance of this trendy neighborhood so I can have the best of both worlds: divine sleep, essential garden therapy and still being walking distance to my favorite coffee shop.

Last Saturday night, knowing it was the last weekend in my apartment, I took a farewell stroll through my trendy neighborhood to Ice Cream Renaissance, where I ordered my favorite: one scoop of Bittersweet Chocolate Love Affair ice cream on a sugar cone. It was the first ice cream I'd had in three months.

As I walked back to my apartment, I savored the flavor of the ice cream and my neighborhood. Because it was St. Patrick's Day, bagpipers wearing kilts were performing at Pop Culture. People had spilled onto the sidewalk to chat. I spied the owner of the Moroccan restaurant across the street listening to the bagpipes too.

Midway through my ice cream, I realized how amazing it has been to be a part of this neighborhood when I needed the sanctuary it offered. And how blessed I am to be able to move forward into my new sanctuary offering peaceful slumber and a garden to boot.

I took another lick of Bittersweet Chocolate Love Affair and walked home, dreaming of planting tomatoes, sunflowers and lavender.


  1. Your cat is named - Anakin Skywalker...That is awesome!

  2. Hi Sue, I'm so happy for you! You'll have to be sure to give me your new address so I can come visit again. Such a beautiful blog post. I hope the job is going well, keep up the hard work mama!! LOVE, Katie