This was my first apartment after college, in the town I helped prepare for its eventual gentrification: Ferndale, Mich. I think the gentrification ended while I was away though. The balcony was ours, where we would try to play Yo La Tengo songs on our new guitar. It was a dumpy place, but I can only remember loving it.
It wasn't all great. The eventual wife and I were doing what some people would call "living in sin," but if we had talked about it at all, which we didn't, we would have said only that we knew that we wanted to be together. We felt this in the way that you know things when you are young and know almost nothing else.
The landlord downstairs would throw big parties where there must have been a rule that you had to smoke at least two cigarettes at once because smoke would pour through the heating grates in our apartment until the clothes in our closets smelled like other peoples' clothes. This happened like all the time.
And then after the parties, the landlord and her boyfriend would yell at each other. Once, he locked her out and then at 3:00 in the morning on a work night she was yelling to the neighborhood "Somebody please call the cops! I have been locked out of my house! Please somebody call the cops so I can get back in my house please!" I can't remember if I called the cops. I like to think I did, but it is also possible that I thought she needed to be away from her violent boyfriend for awhile and therefore didn't call.
Basically, 2-3 times a week, Cath and I would be upstairs listening to some kind of badness downstairs, asking each other "should we call the cops?" I really don't think we ever did. I really think that for us, we felt like outsiders and that maybe that was just a different kind of life that was normal for some people and who were we to call the cops on it? It would be like judging them, we thought, I think. When you are older, it is very hard to remember yourself when you were 22 and not be stunned at how much of an idiot you were.