Places I Have Lived: A Lady Hostel, a Live Show, and That Fireplace
by Julie Bee
We have all lived in some places. Where have you lived, Julie Bee?
Park House, London, U.K., $400ish/mo.
Self-made summer intern with a teeeeeeny bedroom and shared kitchen in a long-term hostel. The hostel is women only and often is home to survivors of abuse, and visits from my boyfriend are met with a wary eye. Everything is very clean, and my Dutch suite mate is six feet tall and a delight. One night I lock myself out of my room completely naked and the door-woman has to let me back into my room.
Lincoln Park, Chicago, Ill., $615/mo.
Having visited Chicago only a handful of times before moving, LP is the only neighborhood I can remember, so I move here. My dad and stepdad help me move in, and I buy them McDonald’s for lunch. My windows are situated in front of the glare of a street lamp, ensuring that I will never need to turn on a light if I want to read in bed. It takes me a full month to discover that the grocery store down the street has a second level. Late one night, someone mistakes my apartment for their own and tries to get in. I freak the fuck out, but stay for two years.
Lincoln Park, Chicago,Ill., $850/mo.
Moving’ on up — it’s a two-room studio complete with a terrible management company. I choose this apartment purely because it has pretty stained glass window panels in the door. The girl who lived there before me had painted the living room a garish shade of yellow — and couldn’t be bothered to move her furniture out of the way, so instead painting around it. Management takes two months to repaint. The place is so drafty that my curtains flutter even when the window is closed. My new neighbor likes to scream Tori Amos songs at 1 a.m. on a Tuesday. I last one year and stay at the boyfriend’s place a lot.
Sofia Court Apartments, Singapore, $1100/mo.
Yay for a temporary work transfer to Singapore! My company seriously pays $1,100 a month to put me up in a boarding-house style room. I purchase a hotplate and feel depressed. The doorman is sleeping every time I leave for work in the morning. I sometimes find lizards in the bathroom. One night I see a girl in the building across the street dance and strip in front of a webcam. Another night I come home too drunk and pound on the door of an apartment that is not mine.
Lakeview, Chicago, Ill., $975/mo.
It seems like a deal — great location, carpet, dishwasher, fireplace. Freaking fireplace! On my first night, I hear loud awful techno music. As I try to track down which neighbor is playing the music, I realize it’s coming from the bar. Directly below my apartment. The bar that I thought was a restaurant. But no worries, techno is on Saturdays only. The rest of the week is the worst piano-fueled cabaret and karaoke that the city has to offer. My friends, however, are big fans of my “Movies by the Fire” parties, even if they have to sit on the floor. I stick it out for two years and still miss that fireplace.
Wicker Park, Chicago, Ill., $1,075/mo.
It’s spacious, gets good light, and has a deck that always has at least one stray cat for me to feed. A frozen yogurt place opened up across the street. A huge family lives next door and they are always hanging out on the sidewalk. Always. My other neighbors are legit hoarders. Their backyard contains a car, lawn furniture, stone monuments, antique benches, pieces of carpet, and an elaborate system of tied-together ladders that goes from a tree in their backyard to the roof of my building, where they cleared out a space for barbecuing. I seriously love it here.
Julie Bee is an expert at packing and hiring movers. She lives in Chicago with Sherman, World’s Greatest Cat.