Tuesday, April 25, 2023

U is for Up On The Roof


#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter U

My favorite place I ever lived was in a loft apartment on Music Row in Nashville. It was once a one-story brick house with a cellar (CELLAR, not basement - there's a difference and if you don't know what it is, you've never been in a cellar) and a large attic. The bottom floor of the house had been turned into a studio and an office space (that was leased to a jingle writer), the attic became a loft apartment, and the cellar was still a cellar. The house to the south was an old two-story home that was turned into a studio. Across the street were houses that had been turned into studios and publishing offices and artist management companies, and to the north was Studio 19 (built to be a studio and not a refurbished house). The owner of Studio 19 was (and still is) my friend Larry, and he also owned the house/studio with the loft apartment.

Front of the house. Not terribly relevant, since I
lived above the house and the entrance was in
the back, but I can't find any of my photos of it

Larry usually leased the apartment to one of his recording engineers from Studio 19 as part of their salary. I got the apartment because the engineer that was currently living there needed a bigger place and was moving out, and the other engineer in line for it decided he'd rather have the money than the apartment so he could buy a car (I also bribed him a little with the promise of baking him cookies once a week, which I fulfilled until he started gaining too much weight and said no more cookies). It was an awesome space! Vaulted ceilings, big windows in the front room that looked onto a deck (and across the alley to a high rise apartment building that largely housed Vanderbilt Law School students). There was a skylight above my living room couch, one just inside the bedroom (which was separated from the living room and kitchen by a partition), one in the bathroom above the bathtub, and one in the far back of the apartment above where my bed was placed. The ceilings slanted (attic, remember?) and I did whack my head on them a lot over the years I lived there, not going to lie. 

My brother with my cat Christopher. The door is
behind the cat and the only windows in the place
look out onto the deck.

Helen liked to climb from trash can to microwave
to fridge to cabinets to partition between bedroom
and living area

The day I moved in, the previous tenant handed me the key to the front door as he took the last of his stuff out of the apartment and warned me the key was for the deadbolt only and never to lock the doorknob when I left the apartment, or I wouldn't be able to get back in, as there was no key anywhere that anyone knew about for that lock.

I was living my best life there, working at a record company, living on Music Row within walking distance to restaurants and such, and hanging out with Terri. I was never scared (it's not necessarily the safest place to be at night), because there was nearly always someone in at least one of the studios next door or below me.

Then late one Saturday night (I think it definitely qualified as early Sunday morning), after Terri and I had been out and I had dropped her off at HER apartment, I got home, did a quick visual survey for sketchy people, then went up the stairs to my apartment, but when I turned the key in the deadbolt, the door didn't open because THE KNOB DIDN'T TURN. I was locked out. I couldn't figure out how this could possibly happen, because I was SO VERY CAREFUL about never locking that doorknob, but locked it was, and I had to get in or sleep on my porch swing,

I drove back to Terri's for help, woke her up, and ended up spending the night with her instead of on the porch swing, and early the next morning, she and I went back to my place to figure out how to get in. 

"I'll just climb up on the roof and go in through the skylight!" Terri said, and she stepped onto the roof, crawled a few feet to where she was between the skylight and the porch, and announced, "I'm scared of heights!" and was now frozen in place.

So now I'm locked out of my apartment with my best friend stuck on the roof.

Fortunately, I had a friend whose husband was a law student at Vanderbilt and they lived in that apartment building behind me (which is how I knew it housed a lot of law students). I left Terri on the roof, ran across the alley to my friend's apartment, and woke them up. They came, her husband armed with some tools, and he first got Terri off the roof without either of them falling off, then popped the skylight open and dropped onto my couch (much to the surprise of my cat), unlocked the door knob, and I was in!

It was later that week when I had popped in to Studio 19 to visit with my landlord that he said, "I went out to dinner with some friends the other night and took them in to show them your apartment!" 

"Uhh, was this Saturday night, by chance?" I asked.

"Yes! They thought it was really cute."

"You locked me out."


"You locked the doorknob when you left and you locked me out. I had to spend the night at Terri's and she got stuck on the roof trying to get in and I had to get a neighbor to get her down and go in through the skylight."

He felt really, really bad, but Terri stuck on the roof was kind of worth it, and all's well that ends well, right?

My favorite picture ever of the two of us.

Side note: the house with the loft apartment, Studio 19, and all the other houses and businesses on the block have been torn down and huge, expensive apartment buildings have been built on what was once a quiet, tree-lined street, and it makes me sad when I think about it. And then I remember Terri stuck up there on the roof, and I smile.


  1. Well, this made me find out the difference between cellar and basement, so thank you! I have to confess I have never in lived in any house with either. :) Here from the A-Z and all the best for the remaining letters/days.

    1. Cellars are creepy. Lots of homes in the US have "walkout" basements, where one side is underground and the other side has windows and doors and usually opens onto the backyard (have to be built onto a hill to have one like this). Thanks for visiting! I'm so behind on reading but I will be by to check out your A to Z!

  2. Oh, my, what an adventure! He should have had a key made after that.