Our first year of marriage we spent in a 500 square foot apartment over a post office. The halls smelled like cigarettes and the walls were covered in shiny wood veneer paneling. There was a creepy hole in our ceiling above the bed that I taped over with paper because I was convinced there might have been a camera. A little old lady who smiled at us when she passed us in the halls, as if to say “Oh hello, you newlyweds, you have so much life ahead of you!”
We had arrived home at the end of July from our honeymoon in Hawaii, with great thanks to generous family members who had seen to it that we had an excellent first vacation together. We had never lived together before, me, coming from the dorms at my university and Kellen coming from a bachelor pad where he consumed way too much Thai food.
We were excited and nervous to have our first place. We had just spent the last year preparing financially for our wedding, so without any real plan, we arrived home to an empty fridge in an apartment that I hadn’t even checked out before signing the lease. I liked the idea that it was next to the church where we had our reception- because, well, I am a sentimental junkie who thrives off of cheesiness, as I have come to accept.
We had no real plan when we got home. In fact, our fridge was empty and so was our newly adjoined bank account. My mom lived down the road and since we still had a spare key, we snuck over to her place while she was gone and stole a Costco case of top ramen and some microwave popcorn. We didn’t think she’d notice- she did…. (sorry mom!). We got home, threw on “The Office” and went to pop our popcorn….in the microwave that didn’t exist. Just add that to the list, Kellen and Nicole- welcome to adulthood!
I think the thing that makes me laugh the most is when I think about signing up for life insurance. Of course I was doing the responsible thing- I had gotten a full time job and it was time to make sure that we would be covered in case anything happened to either of us. She completed my policy and then asked about renters insurance. “Do you have anything of value that you would like to get covered in case of theft or emergency?” I sat in silence and really thought about it. Finally I said “no, I really don’t think we have anything valuable at all.”
And it was true. They say start with nothing….we certainly did. We had nothing of monetary value and yet we loved that tiny apartment because it was home.
When we first started dating, Kellen made me a mixed CD (because that’s what you do in 2005). I threw it in the CD player and hit play- soon I was rocking out to the Beatle’s “wouldn’t it be nice.” The song ended and the next started….it was the same song. I hit next. Same song. Hit next…again…same song.
“You realize you made me a CD with all of the same songs, right?” I asked him
“Yeah. I just like that song and I knew you did too.”
And it was just another piece of the “I fell in love with you right THERE you big, giant weirdo” puzzle that I was piecing together.
The song was really perfect for us. At 16 and 17, the words “wouldn’t it be nice if we were older, then we wouldn’t have to wait so long….you know it’s going make it that much better, when we can say good night and stay together….”
We walked back down the aisle together after saying our vows to that song. We moved into that tiny apartment with its micro kitchen, the endless amounts of top ramen and “camping” in our living room, a place where we could finally just say good night together. It wasn’t worth anything yet it was worth everything that mattered to us.