Everything is blue, this is where I live now.  An outside room and garage converted to a flat, and painted blue. Thick, heavy, coarse blue – the kind that can creep into your bones and stay with you for years.

The landlord is an old man who gives me the creeps.  I can’t bare to look at him, I hardly ever say a word to him.  The way he looks at me makes me feel dirty.  He would come to the bedroom window behind the flat where he had a little vegetable garden and I would freeze, silently watching him plucking blood red tomatoes from their vine.  I didn’t want him to know I was there, right by the window, hidden only by a flimsy curtain.

It was cold and the sun never reached in through the windows. The carpets hard and rough to the touch, it hurt to walk barefoot on them. Even the carpets were blue, except in one room, the old single garage, which had a brown carpet. I didn’t want to walk barefoot, the blue carpets too hard, the brown one, too long and dirty, I was sure. Cold radiated from the cement floor below.  I moved there in April, a few days before my birthday, just as the leaves were falling from the trees announcing winter was on her way. That winter was excruciating.  The flat only had a shower, I was used to baths.  Taking a shower does not compare to taking a bath, the cold air comes in from all angles and you cannot immerse yourself in the warmth of a tub of water.

The place was dirty. Filthy…  Clogged drains with years of fat and grime build up, in the basin, in the shower, outside.  The shower was by far the worst. My stomach turns. The yellow, or is it brown?, linoleum kitchen floor is sticky and curling up at the corners.  The brown cupboards have a layer of dirt and oil on them, I’m not sure where the dirt ends and the cupboards begin.

I spent days cleaning before we moved here.  Painted it white inside. A hard, acrylic, shiny white. We moved in with a fridge, a table and a bed. A springy and uncomfortable bed.  A bed nevertheless. I was not used to sharing my bed. I burned the midnight oil at the table studying towards my degree.

I couldn’t sleep.  I missed my mom, all of twenty-one, but I couldn’t go back home. When I did sleep it was restless, filled with nightmares and midnight awakenings.  Many a night I wrestled with my inner voice, urging me to pack my little black bags and leave.  Run for the hills, leave now in the middle of the night it urged. But I didn’t listen, where would I go anyway?.  What does it know.?

I was alone for weeks on end while he worked away.  We got a dog.  A cute boxer whiney puppy that needed potty training and kept me running between the kitchen and bedroom, in the middle of winter, night after night. The puppy slept in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I adore dogs, but I could not love this one.  It stole my freedom. I was the one left behind to rear this puppy that I hadn’t wanted in the first place. I cleaned up messes and was lucky when she didn’t pull the dustbin over. I can’t remember if I was sad the day the dog went missing. I can’t remember being happy when we found the little thing, playing with some kids in a garden two streets away. The kids had stolen the puppy.  They could have kept her (wince).

Then my younger “sister in-law” moved in with us.  She stayed in the brown room. All of a sudden she was our responsibility too.  One night I come home to find her crying in her bed.  Desperately unhappy she lamented that she will never find a man to marry.  I look at her as though she were mad.. she is so young I thought. Barely a year out of school.  She shouldn’t worry about settling down now.  It didn’t occur to me that she was not much younger than I was – I was young too!

There was no money.  I couldn’t go home.  I hated the blue flat. I hated the landlord and his grouchy wife. I couldn’t even find place in my heart for the poor dog (wince).  I hated the  shower with it’s horrible blue (blue again really?)  plastic curtain. I wanted a bath. With bubbles.  Where I could lock the door and shut the world outside.

I was suffocating.

I stopped seeing my friends.

I stopped seeing my family.

I stopped dancing.

I threw myself into work and my studies.

Life became heavier for my young and naïve self.

I wanted to be young and carefree but life has not allowed for this.  As much as I wanted to go home I knew I could never again.  Life at home had become unbearable.  Living under the same roof with an alcoholic parent was no longer an option.