I often think over the past three years. The Covid years. We are well into our third Covid year now.
In summer 2019, about seven months before Covid changed everything, I made one very smart move. I hated where I was living in Smithtown, for a variety of reasons. I knew that new apartments were going up in Ronkonkoma, and they looked amazing, but I had no idea that the first building had already been opened for leasing.
One day I was driving by and saw this "leasing now" sign, so I drove in and followed the signs to the leasing office. It was in building one. There are now six different buildings here.
Anyway, building two was just about to open. I looked around and realized I needed to move here. I never even saw my apartment in building two before I signed the lease that day. You couldn't enter building two yet. But within two weeks you would be able to live there.
I saw only the outside and the floor plan. It was a large, two-bedroom apartment. What sold me was that it was directly over the pool, and had a wrap-around balcony. I stood outside looking at it, and knew if I didn't sign that day, someone else would. It's a four-story building, and this particular apartment had already been leased on the third floor, and on the fourth floor. The first floor is the clubhouse, directly under my apartment. So this was the last one available.
Because the balcony hangs directly over the pool, it's the one I would have chose anyway. So it was really meant to be mine, and I knew that.
What I did not know is that within months I would be locked down in there.
By time summer 2020 rolled around, they started doing live music at the pool. You had to wear masks in the common spaces, and in the elevators, but not at the pool. They weren't really supposed to be doing these events in 2020, there was no vaccine yet, and none of my friend's places were doing any events. It was considered risky. Maybe it was risky, I don't know. It didn't really matter for me at first, because I just sat out on my beautiful balcony, surrounded by my flowers, and watched the bands.
But soon, I decided to go down there. By then we found out Covid wasn't really easily transmitted outdoors. So I would bring my bottle of wine, and stainless steel wine glass, and drink it while listening to music by the pool. Many a day, I had to stumble back inside the doors, through the clubhouse, launch myself into the elevator, and then through my front door which was luckily right across from the elevator.
That pool, that music, and that balcony got me through summer 2020.
Okay, the wine helped too. A lot.
And it was during that summer that I got to know my upstairs neighbor. He lived directly above me. During the lonely winter of 2020, and April, the bad time, sometimes the only noise I heard all day was him pacing above me. It didn't bother me, in fact, I found it comforting. But I hadn't really known him yet.
We bonded over our idiot neighbors who refused to wear masks in our elevators. I called our elevator the Covid Express. Our neighbors rode up and down in it all day long, with their stupid yapping chihuahuas, maskless, not a care in the world.
Bill and I took the stairs.
We bonded over that, Rosé, and BBQ. Many an evening he would yell up from the courtyard, because I kept my balcony doors opened, that he was grilling. I'm a vegetarian, and he isn't, but he loved grilling veggies with his steak and chicken and hamburgers. So I would come down and eat the veggies, and sometimes, bring down a veggie burger he would throw on for me. And we would eat and drink wine, or sometimes the vodka cocktails he liked to make.
Eventually of course, we became lovers. This was inevitable because we were both single, both attractive, and both on semi-lockdown.
By 2021, he had moved out, and whatever we had, ended. It was never a love connection. The love connections don't come along often in life, though I'm grateful to have had my share of them.
I got vaccinated, started going out again, where I could have met anyone!... and yet, somehow, ended up having an affair with one of the maintenance men from my complex. Bill and I ended friendly, but I was glad he moved out because I wouldn't really have wanted him to know about this. I mean, some façade of decorum is needed, you know?
I'm still here, overlooking the pool, and during this, my fourth summer here, there are still times when I feel as if I am living in a resort.
I made a lot of bad decisions during Covid, but knowing I should sign the lease for this place before anyone else could grab it, even though I was already in a lease someplace else that I had to get out of, was not one of them.
A lot of impulsive things I've done in my life have turned out to be mistakes, so it's nice to have something impulsive turn out to be absolutely the best thing you could have done.
The thing with the maintenance guy ended, he got fired, for something very unrelated to me, thank God. All I need is a scandal. I've had more than a few, and honestly, I feel like I'm too old for them now? But I never seem to be. So far I've avoided any here, and if people talked, and they may have, I never knew about it and far worse things happened here. I mean, nobody was going to be gossiping about me for very long. The shit that goes on here is way crazier than anything I've done.
Still, this year, my fourth year here, and the third summer since Covid, I am going to keep my plate clean here and order out. Just to be sure.
But the memories... those I am glad for. They got me through. And to the other side
Or at least what feels like the other side, because of course Covid isn't really over, and my brother is sick, and who knows what's going to happen. And isn't that life? Did anyone ever really know?
Nah, we just thought we did. The pre-Covid times allowed us that illusion.