Several weeks ago my in-laws were in Arkansas and they snapped this picture.
THIS is where we, as 20/21 year old newlyweds, made house for the very first time on the campus of John Brown University. Just for clarification, see where those two air conditioner units are? That’s were our apartment ended and another began. It was a duplex. That whole apartment could probably fit in my living room now. It had a bedroom, bathroom, family room and kitchen.
It had indoor/outdoor carpet, stained linoleum, windows that rattled and MICE. We filled it with a mish-mash of furniture from our own bedrooms and the thrift store. We bought a used refrigerator for $50. I think the only new thing in it was the couch that my parents bought for a wedding present…and all our lovely wedding presents.
We were actually fortunate that it was one of the “renovated” units. That meant a fresh coat of paint and new “carpet”. It was on the edge of campus, for which I was grateful when I stumbled home at 3 or 4 a.m. after putting the college newspaper to bed on Wednesday nights.
Best of all, it was paid for. Our academic, ROTC and newspaper editor scholarships were enough to cover the rent and electric bill as well as our tuition bill.
Times were simpler. We lived on about $450 a month – $200 a month from my part time job; $150 from Mark’s work study job and $100 from his ROTC stipend. That paid for the gas bill, groceries, car insurance, car payment, gas and whatever else we needed. Emphasis on “needed”. We lived on Hamburger Helper, grilled burgers, and Mac N Cheese. We learned to be happy with less.
We cuddled on the couch and watched Saturday Night Live. We had our first big fight because, in my effort to clean off the kitchen table piles, I threw away a catalog – THE catalog that had the boots he wanted to order on sale. It’s funny now, not so funny at the time. We learned never to walk out during a fight.
“Vacations” meant driving the 17 hours home to Arizona and crashing at the parents house. We loved being there but loved going “home” more. We learned what it meant to leave our family and become our own family.