Places I Have Lived

My Tin-Roofed Outbuilding in Dar es Salaam

In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city and de facto capital, $500 a month will get you a little room in a tin-roofed outbuilding. You’ll get above-average electricity, too. “Above average,” because you can expect frequent blackouts in Dar—that’s why most expats and well-off Tanzanians have standby generators. My studio doesn’t have a standby generator, but it is hooked into the electrical system of nearby Muhimbilli National Hospital. I don’t know how or why we get to siphon off their power, but the government does a pretty good job pumping watts into Muhimbilli. Even now, as the long dry season transitions into the short rains, and there’s no water in the hydroelectric dams.

---

Madison Is A Great Small City, Unless You’re Black

Madison won’t tell you how many hundreds of people touched my hair in the twenty-three years I lived there without asking first and called it “neat.”

---

In Defense of Small Cheap Cities

Living in Hartford, I still see art and music, and I get to live in a city, and my rent is about one third of what I would pay for an equivalent apartment in Brooklyn.

---

The Cost of Being a Salmon Swimming Upstream

In mid-October I packed up my entire adult life and shlepped it south on I-95. This is what that cost me.

---

Places I’ve Lived: A Sunporch, Next to a Elevated Train and a California Cottage

I moved into my first apartment, one block off campus, the summer after my sophomore year in college. The unit was on the upper-floor of a craftsman-style duplex, with two real bedrooms and three pseudo-bedrooms that were actually converted sun porches, which were lovely and light-filled in the summer, but terrifyingly cold during the winter.

---

Places I’ve Lived: Detroit Edition

We lived in a brownstone off of Eight Mile in a decidedly not dangerous and predominantly gay area. To the west of us, houses began to fall in on themselves and the night became progressively darker. The streetlights were out.

---

Our Vanilla-and-Guilt-Flavored Real Estate Fantasies

Fantasies and gratitude for reality aren’t mutually exclusive! Or maybe fantasies distract from gratitude. I don’t know! It’s not greedy! Or is it?

---

Why We Live Where We Live

While I was gone, I met a lot of people who live in cities and countries all over the world: Brisbane, Malaysia, Edinburgh, Montreal, Uruguay, Austin, “somewhere in Michigan you’ve never heard of, I bet.” I also met a few nomads—both singles and people with spouses and children who have given up permanent addresses to travel the world and stay in places for just months at a time.

“Why?” is the most obvious question.

---

Moving 15 Blocks To My Own Place Cost $2550+ I am THRILLED

+ Portable charger to keep my phone alive during viewings, $35.
+ Bottles of water grabbed between viewings, $3.
+ Emergency granola bar to keep from fainting one day in the August heat, $1.50.

---

A Room in an Elderly Stranger’s House, and Other Places I’ve Lived

Besides me, David Sedaris is the only American I know of who spent a big part of his early 20s rooming with an elderly stranger. He describes this time, during which he took up residence in a Chapel Hill boarding house out of some vague, misplaced nostalgia for an erstwhile age, in his 2007 essay “This Old House.” But the four months I spent with C.C. were a little different.

---