People Keep Asking Me Why I Don’t Buy | Kathryn Knudson
I sit, legs tucked under me, on my favorite chair that my uncle gave me before he reluctantly turned into a snowbird three winters ago. Outside and a story below, a duck quacks loudly as if annoyed before taking off from the neighbor’s pond in the middle of a perfect garden I never have to weed.
Rented windows, newly installed, are thrown open. A surprisingly warm April breeze billows ivory curtains hanging from rented rods. The curtains sweep rhythmically,
easily toward me just as my seven-year-old cousin Emily swings by her knees on the jungle gym, almost lazily from a confidence I couldn’t imagine at her age.
My bare-bones kitchen sits across the miniature hall from a pink-tiled bathroom small enough for my outstretched arms to touch all the walls if I lean just slightly into the shower. The pink walls and floor seem to blush slightly at the questionable addition of a swinging-hips young-Elvis clock next to the towel rack, a gift from my sister who said Elvis adds needed pizzazz.
In the bedroom, I’ve created a reading nook—a floor lamp that lists, an armchair cast off from a previous roommate, bookcase salvaged from my bankrupt first employer. I’ve carved out the space by pushing my bed against a wall. I do get the occasional grumble from the occasional visitor when he has to climb over me to get to the pink bathroom early in the morning. But on those occasions, I’m told later, I peacefully sleep right through the disruption.
I can wander around my little apartment in eight seconds, a couple more if I peer out the windows. In ten seconds I can look around and see every handed-down piece of furniture, every book traded with friends, even the scrimped-for computer that has a story, memories that float to me. I can close my eyes and see beyond these items to why I’m happy, how I’m happy. I can see how what I feel here moves beyond this apartment, spills over into the rest of my life.
Maybe I haven’t talked to a mortgage broker yet not because the prices soar while my salary treads water, as I sometimes toss out in tired explanation, but because when I open my eyes, I have trouble seeing far enough beyond this simple, temporary
apartment. Trouble seeing if my life beyond temporary will be happy too.
And I know logically that happiness has little to do with where I am and more to do with who I am, but sometimes, more than occasionally, logic and happiness don’t live in the same space.