Friday, August 11, 2017

From Longaniza to Hot Dog. Part 5 Places I Lived At in Washington DC


I did not reserve a place at the graduate dorm at George Washington University where I was slated to start for my graduate studies in the early seventies. My friend who I requested to work on it thought I did. Through her insistence I got in and also I got lucky. One of the members of a four person suite quit.  I joined three other girls in sharing a bathroom and two bedrooms. I shared one with Peggy who preferred to sleep in a small cubicle in the bedroom I shared with her.

The first thing I did when I arrived at the dorm was to go to the Murphy's department store to buy my green bed sheets and pillow cases, green blanket and a flowered comforter.  The color and flowers made the room cheery especially that winter. Luckily our room which was at the end of the hall had two large windows which even made the bedroom bright during the gloomy days of winter.

I cooked my own dinner and to some of my dorm mates they were of gourmet standard.  Spare ribs and Congee were impressive to them who were used to eating grilled cheese sandwiches and frozen dinners. The kitchen was at the other end of the corridor on the floor we were in but I did not mind the walk.  I also cooked in large amounts which I ate over several days.

Then summer came and the dorms except for a few were going to close.  Mary in the other bedroom in our suite convinced me to be the third person that would rent an apartment in Virginia for the summer.  The other person was Dan who was in the same program as Mary.  This is reminiscent of Three is Company one of the hottest show on TV at that time starring Suzanne Sommers.  I knew it would concern my mother if the news that I was living with a guy in the apartment reached her.  I decided to describe that Mary and Dan were friends and let her interpret it the way she wanted it.  Actually Dan had his own room and Mary and I shared another. We were clean. No hanky panky.

When summer ended I decided not to go back to the dorm and looked for another place to stay. My friend Seville had this bright idea that we share her apartment at S Street.  It had a bathroom, a separate kitchen and a living room which housed her queen bed.  She said there was room for a twin bed.  The rent was really cheap.  I believe it was only going to be 40 dollars each.  So I agreed to the idea.

Luckily a friend was leaving Washington DC for San Diego and he sold me his bed plus his huge desk. The bed was placed perpendicular to Seville's bed and the huge desk occupied a corner in the kitchen.  I was set.  When a couple of friends came for a visit they made a comment that one could have an orgy with those beds in the living room.  Ha Ha.

The apartment was about eight or so blocks to George Washington University (GWU).  I walked everyday to the university and took a taxi at night.  It was located right at the junction of where the embassy ended and the not so pleasant area started.  My roommate Seville advised me on how to deal with construction workers who might whistle or say "hello there pretty girl" on my way to school. She told me to smile and not get mad.

Seville and I thought we would stay at our apartment till we both graduated from grad school but that did not happen.  The town house we were at was sold and would be converted back to a house.  So both of us searched for apartments.

There was an apartment at I St. located at GWU that had vacancies and had a good price compared to the others that were in that area.  I needed references to apply for the apartment.  I gave the names of the chair and my adviser at the chemistry department.  At that time my stipend that summer was a measly 120 dollars a month lower than during the school year. The rent was 116 dollars. I was not worried I had savings to make up for my other expenses. Thank goodness, the secretary at the chair's office was the one who talked to the apartment manager and told her whatever she thought the manager wanted to hear.  She was a little bit off and I was grateful she was.  As for my adviser, he came down to our lab and was furious for putting his name as a reference without asking him.

Anyway I got the apartment at I St.  It was pretty unique in that the bathtub was painted engine red. It was a so called bachelor's apartment with a huge bathroom which housed a cabinet for my dishes and a hot plate which the custodians in the lab storeroom provided me to cook my food.  I also placed my huge refrigerator in the bathroom.  In the living room, the desk and bed from the last place at S Street I stayed were initially the only furnishings I had when I moved plus a wobbly folding table.  Later on, I salvaged blocks and pieces of wood that became my book case which lined a wall.  I added also to my abode an easy chair and a coffee table disposed of by tenants in the basement.

The apartment was conveniently located just a block from the chemistry department where I usually did my research till midnight. I usually ran to my apartment when I was done at the lab. The area was not exactly a safe one.

Four places in two and half years. I was blessed I had a roof over my head and a bed to sleep on the whole time.  I was lucky I had also money to pay the rent. Life was simple and good.

Note:  This is Part 5 of the series From Longaniza to Hot Dog which recounts my immigration to the United States from the Philippines. You might want to read the following:

From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 1 Brooklyn and Sao Paolo
From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 2 Muito Obrigada and Baden Baden
From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 3 Life Changing Question
From Longaniza to Hot Dog Part 4 Second Thoughts





No comments:

Post a Comment