My husband and I didn’t exactly have our lives together when we got married.
We both had minimal savings and were pretty much living paycheck to paycheck. We wanted to get married; if that meant we were broke, that was okay with us.
Our first apartment was nothing special. We were offered an amazing deal on a one bedroom apartment in the basement of a restaurant. It wasn’t much, but it was just the break we needed.
I got my first taste of where I would be living when a neighbor came to help us move in. Apparently, the restaurant used to be a strip club, and our apartment was where the strippers used to stay. As he walked in, he told us that he remembered getting a lot of calls from the strippers there when he worked as an EMT. One stripper even gave birth on the living room floor. Luckily the carpet had been replaced.
Even though this wasn’t exactly anyone’s dream home, I remember being just so excited to get married, to move in with my husband, and to start our lives together.
But needless to say, instead of buying our decorations, we bought a lot of cleaning products! We had a blast cleaning the apartment together and then painting the entire apartment together, including lots of paint fights. We had fun breaking down the mirror that covered one entire wall that the strippers had put up to give themselves a place to get ready.
Those are some of the best memories I still hang on to from that time.
Later on we realized we had visitors … mice. It wasn’t surprising, since we did live in the basement of a restaurant, and that restaurant did border a local farming field. But I can’t say I was thrilled.
Along with the mice, we had the typical basement bugs like centipedes and Roly Polys. Plus, the noise from the restaurant upstairs could get loud in the evening. These things weren’t fun to deal with, but I just loved being married and living with my husband so much that it totally trumped all the negatives.
Whenever we told people where we lived, they always asked, “Isn’t that the old strip club?” Looking back, I’m not sure how we made it, living there for a year and a half, but our struggles gave us some really good stories.
We stayed in that apartment until we had our first child. We knew it was time, but it was hard leaving that apartment. We had made so many memories there, it had become our home. We got used to hearing all of the restaurant bustle during the day; it became a comfort to know there was a whole restaurant of people upstairs.
A lot of people told us we were crazy for not waiting to get married until we had a good savings account, or until our careers were set, or until we owned a home. But I wouldn’t trade our experience for the world. We had each other, and that was enough.
It’s true that those first couple years were very financially tight, we couldn’t afford to do much of anything. But our favorite times were the nights we would just sit on the couch and watch movies or TV together, which didn’t cost us any money. We are still like that to this day; we don’t need money to be happy—all we need is each other and that’s enough.