Apartment Listing: Spacious 1-bedroom apartment available for rent.
In this vast abode, whose concave roof is impressively though decadently carved to a likeness of the primordial celestial dome, a few albino mice may waddle – aliens here, but indifferent and unseeing. The tunnel-like hall yawns indefinitely off at a steep descending grade, its aperture adorned with grotesquely chiselled jambs and lintel. From that cryptical mouth you may fancy a current of slightly warmer air and perhaps even a suspicion of vapour proceeding; and you may wonder what living entities other than mice the limitless void below, and the contiguous honeycombings of the land and the titan mountains, might conceal. You wonder, too, whether the trace of mountain-top smoke at first suspected by your poor co-signer, as well as the odd haze you yourself perceived around the rampart-crowned roof deck, might not be caused by the tortuous-channelled rising of some such vapour from the unfathomed regions of earth’s core.
You may enter the sepulchrally cavernous on-site laundry realm at your own risk. It is odd how wholly this new quest may turn your mind from your earlier fears of what might lurk in the pantry.
You shall be telling this with a sigh
In this room in ages hence:
Two homes diverged on a street and you –
You took the one with floors brand new,
And that has made all the difference.
A new apartment in a complex is something like a new driver in a car; and when we turn the corner of the road this time, applicant – you must fancy this room in Heath Avenue Apartments, with such large-figured papering on the walls as apartments often have; such a carpet, such furniture, such ornaments on the mantelpiece, such prints – including a portrait of George the Third and another of the Prince of Wales, and a representation of the death of Wolfe. All this is visible to you by the light of a ceiling fan and lamp, and by that of an excellent fire, which is powered by gas which the tenant pays. Large windows lead outward to the moors, not visible just now – but beautiful in the mornings, though not in a very tranquil sort of way.
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Nobody owns the little house; it is a place to rent. It is a tiny house, with a big fireplace and some rustic bunks against all the walls. It is warm once you build a fire in the fireplace. You and your mother and your sister and the baby can all sleep in a bed made on the floor before the fire, while your Pa can sleep outside in the wagon, to guard it and the horses.
Though brilliantly sunny, this apartment also has a decent electrical outlet supply for lamps. It is almost as large as the apartment upstairs, and, in a special sense, appears to be hardly less commodious. Perfect as a living space, or, for the less tied down qui vivre of you, as an elegant and mostly anonymous-looking rendez-vous point in our seven or eight enclosures. A visitor from the Orient once called it a “piece of Holy Ground.” I submit that it is close to being a wholly beautiful apartment. As such, it is of course vulnerable to the same variety of glibly undaunted and usually specious evaluations that any legitimate art object is. I think it just remains to be said that any one of a hundred everyday menaces – water damage, rats, a mouthy doorman – could have disfigured or coarsened its bounteous good looks in a day or a second. But what is undiminishable, and as already so flatly suggested, a joy of a kind forever, is an authentic esprit superimposed over the entire accommodation – especially in the kitchen, where the new granite counter top is as arresting as a Harlequin mask, and, on occasion, much more confounding.
The apartment is in Northern California. It is in a long narrow complex between two ranges of mountains, and the Salinas River winds and twists nearby until it falls at last into Monterey Bay.
I grew up there. I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers. I remember where a mouse may live and what time the neighbors awaken in the summer.
Tenants there pay all utilities. Water is not included.
[Exit, pursued by cockroach]