When I lived in Los Angeles, I once had a private balcony in my apartment. It was early 2008, my girlfriend and I at the time moved into a big one bedroom in Hollywood, and we split the rent of $1250 a month. I enjoyed having a place to go to that was somewhat quiet and introspective, even if all I could see from my little 40 square foot nook was the 101 freeway and a billboard which constantly changed.
Our cats loved to frolic in the sunshine, and the mischievous one, Jose decided he would frolic himself across the ledge, to the balcony of a neighbor’s apartment. I loved all of it, the privacy, the girl, and the cat, yet I abruptly moved out in November of that year after citing irreconcilable differences with my ex.
(Jose and Dapple making out back in 2009)
I was an idiot for many reasons….two of them being that I was slightly addicted to a lifestyle that was detrimental to my relationship and my mental health, the other being that I decided to throw it all away, and if I can be honest here, I regretted it for years to come.
When the dust finally settled, I would eventually move to studio where my ex and I lived for a short while, then to another apartment by myself two years later with a shared balcony walkway where everyone in the building had free reign to just stroll on by. I really liked the apartment, and I stayed there for five years, even though during the last few I would have to dodge my Landlord’s chatty nineteen year old Russian son who loved to talk my ear off about YouTube shit every time he walked by my door. I feel like at some point he was stalking me.
I would walk around my neighborhood and I would look up and see all these cardboard boxes, satellite dishes, and plastic containers taking up space on the outdoor decks of my neighboring apartment buildings. It totally disgusted me.
Why would someone use their balcony as a storage space, instead of a space for inspiration? Why do old Christmas decorations get to see the sun come up instead of the people living IN the apartment? Maybe they have been there for years and they had a family and they needed to use that area for their crap, but man, all I could think was what a fucking waste of a balcony. I would have put it to such better use.
I vowed one day that I would never waste such an amazing opportunity if I were ever in the position where I would have a private balcony again. I also vowed I wouldn’t throw away a relationship with a good girl because of my own inadequate fears or the stupid fact that I wasn’t able to grow up and learn to compromise. I’m still waiting to right the wrong of the latter, but the opportunity to take back my balcony finally happened last week.
Before I left L.A. for Seattle, I took a walk around my old neighborhood. I made a left into the alley where I strolled five years prior, and there five years later were the same four balconies I saw full of even more stuff that doesn’t fit inside the four walls those residents call home.
I snapped a picture to remind myself not to let that happen to me. This is gross.
I don’t have a lot on MY balcony yet. Just a chair and a milk crate I bought from the Home Depot, but I have plans for a table, and an umbrella, and maybe some plants or some astroturf if they even make that anymore.
As I sit here outside on my little deck of insight writing about how I missed this state of mind I remember back to 2008. Even though the relationship didn’t work out, I know I’m glad I’m still best friends with my ex, which is a hard feat to accomplish and I wish her the best living in the old apartment I just left. I think about that time I crawled across the balcony 100 feet in the air to rescue our cat Jose from the neighbors place, and I miss that little dude everyday of my life.
But most of all, I think about how I’m in a good position and now I have the opportunity and the choice to make this balcony a place where great things happen. It’s quiet and peaceful in this area, and I am grateful for what God has given me, even though I could use a job, a little more money, and a routine that doesn’t necessarily include me waking up “naturally” at 6 in the morning.
At least when I do wake up, I’ll have a place outside to sit with a picturesque view of the trees and the mountains to inspire, and no 19 year old chatty cathy in sight. And if I lean out just far enough across the railing, I can see the city downtown and the top of the Space Needle.
It would be a crime to waste this balcony, a crime I promised myself I will never be guilty of.