Monday, August 9, 2010

An unusual living space

When I got divorced, I moved into the best apartment in the entire world! It was huge and spacious. The master bedroom was so large it could accommodate my queen sized 4-poster bed, night table, two huge dressers and still have space for me to do aerobics in the middle of the floor if I wanted to; it had 14 foot ceilings so I could jump up and down on my bed and not worry about hitting my head on the ceiling! Mac’s room held all his toys and still could spread out one of those carpets with a city of roads. It was so large it looked like I never had to clean. The kitchen was HUGE. Absolutely huge! There was a washer and dryer and nice bathroom. The living room was adorable with a window seat. There was central air conditioning. It was cheap, too! It had about 1700 square feet and I paid about $475 a month and that included all my utilities. There was off street parking, it was a good neighborhood and had a place for Mac to play since he was 4 years old at the time. I lived above a business, on the second floor and my neighbors were quiet. So quiet in fact I hardly knew they were there. They were deadly quiet. Oh yeah- they were dead! Really! I lived above a funeral home.

Yep, a funeral home. Now many people thought this was weird. Or freaky. Or just plain gross. To me, it was a place to hang my hat in a really cool apartment. And most people left me alone there. My friends thought it was insane for me to “live with dead People.” Well, I didn’t really live with them, exactly, and um…they were pretty transient….and not really living, if you get my drift.

But people thought it was weird. And I guess I did too, for a bit. I did really well in there alone at night unless I had friends over who talked about it being haunted or things that go bump in the night. Then after everyone left, I would lay there and stare at the ceiling and worry that I was going to get pulled into some episode of the Twilight Zone or Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I would clutch my Louisville Slugger and jump at every noise. (One time my buddy Eric scared me so badly I slept with a damn shaker of garlic salt under my pillow to ward off evil spirits…I didn’t happen to have a clove of garlic on hand, in case you were wondering…)

As I said, Mac was just 4 years old at the time and didn’t know enough to be scared. So, when there was an evening viewing/ calling, or something on the weekend, I tried to make sure Mac and I were gone, or that he was in bed. One day, though, they had a viewing and we were home. I told him we had to use our “indoor voices” because the people downstairs were having a party. He did really well and we made a game of tip toeing around. The only weird thing was that the air vent in the kitchen was on the floor and you could see right down into one of the viewing rooms. When I came out of the bathroom, though, there was little cute Mac bent over the air vent giggling like a little manic and singing along with the hymns he heard wafting up from below. I rushed over, mortified, and praying no one heard, when he says loudly and right into the open air vent, “why is someone asleep at a party?” Of course, he proclaims this in his OUTSIDE voice (okay, not a damn soul in my family has an indoor voice- we are all loud and boisterous while some of us are also bawdy) just as the music stops Of course everyone at the funeral that was happening below my feet had to hear this. I look over and lo and behold, right below that damn air vent is the damn body. Who puts a dead body under an air vent? They might catch a cold or something…

That was the last time I ever stayed home with Mac while there was anything funeral related. The funeral director swore no one heard him, but the twitching smile tugging at the corner of his mouth made me think otherwise.

As I said, I was never usually scared when I lived there. An old Sam, hated it, though. He thought it was weird and creepy. He hated to stay over because of it, so by default, I spent many a night at his house. And when we moved in together, even though my apartment was so much better and cheaper and much more awesome than his, I moved with him since he was freaked by the idea of living with the stiffs. He couldn’t understand why I liked the place so much when I would never live in a house where someone died. And I still won’t. If someone died in the house, I just can’t live there. But see, at the funeral home, the people were brought there after they die; their souls aren't hanging out at a funeral home; the souls would be hanging out where they died or their old houses or something. The souls/ ghosts might put in an appearance to check out how nice their funerals are: good music, what did they get buried in, how nice were the flowers, did that bitch Aunt Carol show up even though the deceased hated her, was the family cheap or did they spring for a nice box, were the last requests met, that sort of thing…But a ghost/ soul isn’t gonna linger at the funeral home, so I never minded that at all.

The one time I was freaked out was my own fault. I had a private lobby with a private stair case that lead up to my front door and it was all inside. At the bottom of the stairs was a door that led to the funeral home office and it was kept locked after hours or when they had a body. So I went down the stairs one night, around 7 pm, to slide my rent check under the door and it was unlocked. I thought maybe one of the staff was working late, so I just pushed the door open and took a few steps into the office and came to a dead standstill. The entire downstairs was totally dark and the air was as still as death. There in front of me, just about 37 feet away, was a casket, open, with a bald old man wearing glasses, all laid to rest, with rosy pink light shining all around him. I ran like hell out of the room, up the stairs, slammed my front door, threw the locks, grabbed Mac and hid in the closet, playing camping (that was the first thing that came to mind). We “played camping” all night. Over my dead body was ANYONE gonna hurt Mac, even an old dead dude! Obviously, someone forgot to lock the office door and I was afraid the old man would come get us. (Hey, if the door would have been locked, a body couldn’t have gotten through…just the spirit could and, I am here to tell you, that spirit of his should’ve been out haunting the family member who picked that ugly suit he was forced to spend eternity wearing…)

I have moved 14 times in 19 years. This was the best place I ever lived. It was better than the house that was the site of a murder/ suicide…Ah, but that’s a bed time story for another night!

Remembering things that go bump in the night,


Curley said...

Sounds like a great apartment aside from the occasion of dead bodies laying around the building. It wouldn't bother me either unless I (like you) ran across one. Thank goodness Mac wasn't old enough to understand the person wasn't sleeping.

Leann said...

This was a great story - loved hearing it. Did you ever see the HBO show a few years ago called 6 Feet under?

Thanks so much for stopping by The Old Parsonage, please come back anytime!

Mellodee said...

What I don't get is who would put a rental apartment above a funeral home?? That's just weird! Sounds like a great apartment tho....

Maggie said...

Curley- I loved that apartment and would move back there given the chance. Now it's a hair salon. Not as much fun...

Leann- i did see "^ feet under" a few times and always had to remember my funeral home days.

Mellodee- I live in a town with a huge amount of historic homes and many of them, over the years, have been converted into businesses. this was one of those. the downstairs was a funeral parlour, but what to do with all the lush and wonderful upper space that was already rooms? apartments, of course! For some reason, I never thought it being odd to have a rental above a funeral home, but now that you mention it...

Shan said...

It sounds only logical to rent the space above, especially if it's nice. And like you said they arrive there all dead and stuff so it would be more like anatomy class and less like a haunted house. That being said, I have way too much of an imagination not to have horrible dreams about those bodies all the time. I couldn't handle it myself. I'm a chicken (bock bock).

That was an awesome story though!! Total movie possibilities. Maybe you should write a screen play.
I loved 6ft Under and totally miss it. :(