According to our lease, my husband, my dog, and I live in a two-bedroom apartment. But the place clearly started out as a one-bedroom situation, until someone walled off part of the living room to create a small, closetless second bedroom, leaving only a tiny open area next to the kitchen to pass for a parlor.
Upon moving into the apartment back in July 2017, we put our bookcases and a small table and chair into the open area and christened it the Book Nook, and stashed the couch and TV in the other, walled-off berth. Because the room occupies a limbo-like position (not quite a bedroom, not quite a living room), I named it Purgatory—as in, “Did you leave the TV on in Purgatory?” Or “Go get the dog out of Purgatory.”
Continue from there down the hall toward the back of the apartment, and you’ll come to the bathroom on your left and the main bedroom straight ahead.
And that concludes our tour.
In the heat of summer, Purgatory contains, along with the couch, TV, and coffee table, an air conditioning unit. It’s not a window unit (we have one of those back in the bedroom), but a big, black-and-gray, boxy thing that sits on the floor and blows cool air at you from vents along the top.
We call the unit Rosie ‘cause she kind of looks like the robot maid of that name on The Jetsons. As a general rule, you should never miss an opportunity to name the rooms and objects in your home. That way, maybe you’ll trick yourself into developing affection for cramped spaces and eyesore appliances.
In AC parlance, Rosie is categorized as a “portable” unit, meaning she can be moved to wherever there’s a power outlet nearby as well as a window, where you have to attach the end of Rosie’s hose in order, as I understand it, to send her farts out into the open air.
But because of space constraints, Rosie’s roaming options are limited in our apartment. When she’s not stored away in the hall closet, she’s stuck in Purgatory. Don’t even bother trying to pray her out of there.
We try to use our air conditioners as seldom as possible, in keeping with the Universal Law of Liberal Anxiety: That which makes one’s life slightly more pleasant will definitely result in the extinction of polar bears.
But it’s all right. I’m used to living in an uncomfortably warm home. I grew up in a family of always chilly people who seemed to regard low temperatures as a personal affront. Since moving out on my own, I have never heard “brr!” said with the same sense of moral outrage that my kinfolk could muster in frosty places such as movie theaters, hotel rooms, airplane cabins, and Chicago.
Thermostats under my family’s control never go south of 75° Fahrenheit, and the women I’m related to welcome the hot flashes of menopause with a sense of relief.
The hottest home of all belonged to my maternal grandparents, especially when my grandpa was still alive and on blood thinners that lowered his body temperature. To visit my grandparents during Christmastime, it was wise to pack exactly what you’d bring for a trip to Miami in July: shorts, tank tops, maybe a spray bottle to mist yourself.
Even with those precautions, you were liable to wonder, Are we going to bake cookies in this walk-in oven they’ve turned the living room into? And during carol sing-alongs, when Good King Wenceslas would spot the poor man trudging through the deep snow and cruel frost, it was impossible not to think, Some guys get all the luck.