Keeping Sanity While Moving Into A New Place

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez

What do you get when a disabled woman moves from one apartment to another? Answer: chaos and a mental breakdown. Moving from one home to another happens to be one of the most stressful events for able bodied people. There is the packing and unpacking of precious treasures that the moving men might consider someone’s junk. Junk that sometimes tends to magically disappear when the dust is settled in the new place. Now, imagine all of that from a wheelchair. That, my friends, is my present situation.

At this exact moment, I am writing my experience to you not because I am such a loving and caring person willing to share my life with all of you. Not even close! Right now, I am writing to you because it will help me keep my sanity. I have been at my present two bedrooms and two bathrooms apartment for two years. However, the economy has changed so drastically that the landlord needs to move back into this apartment. Actually, he would prefer to move in earlier than our contract states and is willing to break the contract and return the full deposit if I can move out earlier. He has been a good landlord so I am trying my best to help him out.

First problem: where do I move? At first, I was doing my best to find a place to buy. But, it seems that is not my destination yet. Renting an apartment is now my best bet. If I buy an apartment in Miami, my mortgage can be as high as $1600.00 and if I rent I can pay up to $1300 for the same type of dwelling. As of right now, I have found a smaller apartment for $900. Much less than what I am paying now for this place. However, before finding this small little gem which seems to be a big deal according to everyone who keeps insisting that I take it because the price is unbelievable, I had to search and research for many other places!

For me, an apartment is not merely about the price but also the smallest factors that are overlooked by the able bodied community. The first small step is to find out if there is a small step. Almost every front door has a step to enter. It’s about three to five inches high. This might not be a big deal for an able bodied person. In fact, some of my more daring wheelchair using friends have no problem doing a wheelie or jumping up or down from the step. Not me! I am Miss Chicken USA! I don’t feel the need to risk my neck every day I decide to step out of my home. So right there is the first step into finding a place.

Why not make a ram

p? The ramp would be too steep and they are not allowed to be a permanent fixture to the building. I don’t like those portable ramps because they are too portable. In fact, they might be here today and gone tomorrow. A stranger could walk off with it. Some people have suggested that I leave the portable ramp beside the door inside the apartment. Most of these people are able bodied and obviously are absolutely clueless as to the extra unnecessary work that must go into setting up the ramp every single time I go out. Bless their able bodied hearts but they just don’t understand.

Of course, if an apartment has no front step then I can proceed to inspect the rest of the place. Space is very important to me because I don’t like to feel cramped or bump into furniture and other items in my own home. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t even have furniture in the house other than a table to eat and my bedroom. But society wants my friends and family to have a place to sit down while visiting me. Sometimes, you have to play by the rules so now I have a living room and dining room set.

Of course, this would mean socializing and entertaining others which would ultimately send me into the kitchen to prepare any food or beverages for these people who are now sitting on the furniture that society wants people to have in their homes.

I went to three apartments and all of them had a refrigerator with a door that opened up facing the adjacent wall. Why? Why would anyone have a refrigerator that faced the wrong way? I never understand that. So now, I have to find a way to maneuver the wheelchair in such a way where I can open the door and see what’s inside or I can ask the landlord to fix it. Personally, I prefer those two doors refrigerators with automatic ice maker and water dispenser. Now that should be mandatory for everyone!

After making sure that I can somewhat handle the stove, the dishwasher, and the sink, I take a look at the bathrooms. Those lonesome necessary rooms can be full of danger if not used properly. I have to make sure that the toilet is next to the bathtub. Since I used to live in this particular model I was sure that I could live in this particular apartment. But, I have to say that some architects have a funny sense of humor when designing rooms. They put closets in the weirdest places and with the weirdest dimensions. This particular apartment has decent closets but tricky bathroom cabinets.

At first glance you think that there is a third cabinet drawer with a handle but no matter how much you pull that drawer will never open. What’s the point of that? With so much need for less clutter and more space, putting a fake drawer is a waste of time. Then of course, we have the area under the sink. You can basically put one bottle of shampoo and one bottle of hair conditioner before you use up all of your space.

The biggest problem is storage. As a wheelchair bound person, cabinets mounted high on top of the world do nothing for me! What am I supposed to do? Fly up there to reach for something and then fly back down.

Please! Let’s not even talk about closets in the hallway and bedroom. I need room for my shoes, clothes and me! So now, I am down to one apartment that I hope will be ready for me this week.

Thank you all for sharing my plight. I won’t even get into the pathetic people who actually ask me if I work every day after I tell them that I am in a wheelchair and that I am a teacher. It seems I am the closest thing to Jesus according to the people on the other end of the phone conversation.

Until next time!

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