I was feverishly replying to ads for apartments or shared rentals in the city. A couple weeks had stretched into two months of living out of a suitcase and sleeping on a futon in my sister’s living room. The rest of my belonging were obligingly stacked in my parents’ garage. My nomadic life had seemingly hit its peak flavour as an “irresponsible adult.” As supportive and compassionate as she was, we were both feeling a bit on edge with the situation.
I replied to several ads within my laughable budget and went to a few viewings – notably, what looked like an abandoned office turned into studio apartment with pilling blue carpeting throughout and a burner plugged into a fried socket. My sister, a perpetual optimist, feigned enthusiasm. “It’s right behind a Wal-Mart….,” she excitedly half-whispered as we walked through an area of the city’s far, far, far west end that resembled Newark. Right.
The search stumbled on until I came across a post for a two-story townhouse a ten minute walk from my sister’s apartment.
That is how I came to meet Noreen. We ended up living together with one other roommate for a year and a half. A lot of things transpired during that year – a baby was born in our apartment, the lonely neighbour downstairs traded her excitable Yorkie for an excitable jock, we held several dinner parties and Women’s Television viewing nights.
We shared a love of makeup, industrial design and aesthetics as well as political views, anthropological perspectives and a semi-shared heritage, both being of South Asian descent but raised entirely in North America.
We are still quite close today, a rarity I think, for people who, as we often joke, technically “met on Craigslist.”
What would be your “last meal” and “last drink” you’d request?
I’d have a bowl of daal followed by black tea. Whenever I’ve thought about choosing a hypothetical last meal (I’ve thought about it a lot) my mind has always wandered towards the most decadent of meal options. But in my everyday life I eat often and mostly horribly so I’d probably opt for a nourishing meal that would facilitate a favourable and virtuous reflection on my life. Daal would also be a subtle shout out to my South Asian upbringing and to my general brown-ness. It would be a solid, no-fuss meal and I probably wouldn’t feel bloated afterwards either.
What’s something you’ve taught someone else?
I recently taught my mother how to properly fix her cuticles before painting her nails. All of us ladies in the Ahmed clan used to spend a lot of time together doing self-care stuff like epilation, facemasks, and other skincare stuff. I learned a lot of beauty/self-care things from my ma while growing up but the most important thing I learned from her was sticking to a routine (she’s an ultra-rooted Taurus). As of late, my goal has been to flex an exfoliated face, fresh apartment and fly outfit everyday.
What did you buy with your very first paycheck?
My first paycheck was earned at age 16 and was deposited straight into my savings account where it sat until I finished high school. I saved all my earnings up until I started university where I paid for my first year’s tuition, books and expenses with cash. I wish I were still that frugal and responsible but to be fair the issues of looking fly and having a badass apartment were not on my radar at age 16 so having savings at that age probably held the most utility for me. I don’t even know what I was concerned about then, maybe grades and general social anxiety.
Item of jewelry you always wear and why:
I always wear earrings of some sort and a ring I made at age 20 while dallying in metalsmithing. It has a harsh, unusual shape and makes me feel edgy, subversive and cool (my utmost hope and dream at 20) whenever I wear it.
‘B’ is for ______________________
Blackheads. I’ve had a persistent obsession with blackheads since my first time using a Biore nose strip back in elementary school. I vividly remember using one on my dad and, upon rip-off, being completely baffled by the weird, pore-shaped things. I don’t find them gross at all; in fact, visualizing a fat blackhead being squeezed out of the skin has soothed my nerves in times of great stress.