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I don’t live in a fancy place. I don’t have the conveniences of a dishwasher, washing machine or dryer. I don’t have an upstairs, a downstairs, a yard full of grass, or a garage to store all my crap.

What I do have, is a landlord who lets me do whatever I want. I have painted my bedroom green, my bathroom blue and my kitchen a bright cheerful orange. I have ripped up the old carpet and spruced up the painted wooden floors underneath. I have an outside deck with a (somewhat cluttered) view of downtown Denver. I have a parking space in a very busy neighborhood. I have the best wine, cheese, books, coffee, beer, pizza, sandwiches, tacos and cupcakes within yards of my front door.

I also don’t have a mortgage, property tax or the “burden” of home ownership.

Which isn’t to say that this isn’t my home.

I have lived through lay offs, heart breaks, stress, anxiety, weight gain, weight loss, weight gain again, more lay offs, following my bliss, changing that bliss, and then giving it all up just to work for myself. Much of this has been possible because of where I live. My rent remains affordable in a “no way, no fair” kind of affordable. And also in an “oh-crap, I-now-don’t-have-a-steady-income-but-I-think-it-will-all-be-ok” kind of affordable. And again, a landlord who is committed to keeping good tenants and looking out for us with a fatherly concern.

What was to be a one- or two-year interim place to live until I found a “real” apartment or could purchase a house, has turned into a 12 year stay. I recently watched “The Fischer King”. As Robin Williams’ awkward girlfriend says, “I always wondered what the apartments above a store looked like. I always walk by and wonder if people really live there.”

I live there. And this is my story.

And no, my place does not look like a palace. I just haven’t changed the default picture yet. (p.s. If you see a photo that does not look like a palace then, yes, I finally have changed my default picture.)