Part One: In The Beginning…
The apartment building was, in a word, unremarkable. Unremarkable in both its appearance and location, unless of course you find being within a block of the most ghetto of grocery stores in the city to be a remarkable quality. But most don’t. In fact, you would be hard pressed to have noticed it if you were to drive by, as it doesn’t take up much space and blends in to the dirt driveway and nearness of the neighboring building that bookend it.
The only remarkable thing about it, on the surface at least, was the astonishingly cheap rent. Even for a university town in which the university is nestled in the middle of the hood this rent was cheap. And it was this quality alone that made the apartment so desirable. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I said that the building, on the surface at least, was unremarkable. This was, and currently is, true. The dirt drive on the north side of the building is dusty and uneven, nearly too small for any car to turn in on. If you do manage to find it and are unlucky enough to meet another car exiting the drive, you might find yourself in a dance of wills, both of you attempting to find a way past the other without either getting rear-ended on the street or backing into the apartment itself, respectively. The whole time you would be kicking up a storm of dust and gravel to rival any lot in West Texas, unless of course it had rained recently, in which case your vehicle might just as likely fall into a sinkhole as find a place to park. On the other side is a non-descript structure, which is either another apartment building or a business or something else. Truth be known, I have no idea. I have visited the subject of our story countless times over the past 5 years, and I’m still clueless as to what’s next door.
The Apartment building itself is something of a drab brown with a drab reddish trim here and there. It is half brick and half wood and two stories tall. But this is all surface stuff. Like any neighborhood in the suburbs or any dorm hall, once you start to scratch away at the outer layers you begin to find a history and collection of stories much too strange to have ever been dreamed up. You begin to see all the cracks and crags, the little eccentricities that hold it together far better than the bricks and mortar, boards and nails. For one, those things hardly hold the place up any more at all.
For instance, I mentioned that the exterior of the building is half brick and half wood. The simple explanation of this is that they just built it that way. But that would be wrong. The truth is infinitely more bizarre. Legend has it that at one point in time, one half of the building (the brick portion) actually resided on the other side of the highway, completely separate from the wood portion. For reasons unclear, they picked up the brick complex, put it on a flatbed truck, and moved it across the highway to join with its wooden brother.
While this may explain some of the lack of structural integrity, there are still some things that it cant begin to explain. Such as the two toilets in the bathroom that were separated by mere inches, or the side-by-side shower heads in the shower. There is no possible way that these things would have met when the two units were joined, as they seemed to already be in place before the great pilgrimage across the freeway. Which would mean that the original intent was for people to use the toilet together, right next to each other, and then to move to the shower and get clean in simultaneous bliss. The aspects of this are, at best, horrifying.
All that said, it really came down to the cheap rent. The thing that brought two very different people together like the two halves of the building, and united them in one place for many years. Together, Jason Solley and Jeremy Bush confronted structural mysteries, infestations of varmints, flies, and spiders, and formed one of the great roommate bonds of our time. This is the story of their seven years together and their final split to lives lived apart.
Stories From the Front!