When I told my mom that I had signed my first lease, to rent an apartment on Quint Avenue in Allston, she was not only excited but also found it fitting. She told me that my late grandfather went by the name “Quint” whenever he was on his boat, a nickname his fishing buddies down in Wareham had given him decades ago.
My Allston apartment probably hadn’t been updated since my grandfather was first called by that name.
After months of fruitless searching, my roommates and I had decided to bring in a professional. I came in from my hometown of Concord, N.H., during my spring break from Suffolk University one Wednesday for a full day of apartment hunting. But the first nine units left me with a bad taste in my mouth; I was certain we would have to settle for a place long abused by rowdy college students or in abject disrepair. Then our realtor took me and my roommates to Quint Avenue.
The apartment was larger than any we had seen during our multimonth search. It had a mudroom, a mini hallway that led to three bedrooms, and a larger one offering access to the living room and kitchen.
Although the kitchen and living room were clearly dated, they were spacious, big enough to fit my sectional sofa and the dining room table my parents had donated. The living room was even connected to a smaller area that our realtor called a sunroom. We signed for the apartment that day and were excited to know we could move in Sept. 1.
Come fall, our Quint Avenue home lived up to its spring potential. It was wonderful. It was bliss.
Then winter hit.
My roommates and I quickly learned the drawbacks of living in a unit that probably hadn’t had a windows update since Jimmy Carter sat in the Oval Office. The sunroom, much enjoyed in September, had turned into an icebox by November. Its three windows allowed cold to seep into a roommate’s bedroom. The other two bedrooms faced the street, which presented its own problems. Not only did outside noise penetrate the shoddy windows, chilly winds also whipped into my room. I had to shell out money for a space heater. Come February’s superstorm Nemo, I piled on layers of sweats and wool socks and cranked up that heater.
We were able to grab the best apartment we saw on the market, but stark, cold reality hit full force in November and set up camp until April. In the fall, spring, and summer, the unit was a joy to come home to after a long day of classes and work. It could have been in the winter as well if someone had taken the time and money to update the windows at least once in three decades.
It probably would be a smart idea to update the oil heating system as well — and monitor it. The first time our unit’s tank ran out, it took a company four days to refill it. The three of us had to endure ice-cold showers in the meantime.
My first apartment rental went more smoothly than many of my college friends’, and, unlike them, I never did see a beady-eyed rodent in my kitchen. But as I recall all the homework I did with frozen fingers, that is cold comfort.