About four hours out from Salt Lake City, I called my
landlord to let him know we were close, and would he be around to hand me my
keys, or should we have him drop them off somewhere—how did he want to handle
it? I asked cheerily, so glad to be so close to home. Oh, he said, you didn’t
get my email? And that is when I knew things were going to be terribly,
horribly wrong, and that regret was going to be a good friend of mine.
See, I had a not-so-great feeling about this guy, which I
dismissed. Over the holiday, when I was visiting, we went to see a bunch of
apartments. Some of them had busted-out windows that were boarded up and some
of them looked even more like crack dens and some of them were weirdly shaped
and a remarkable number of them had previously housed ex-girlfriends of E.’s,
and maybe I am being silly, but kind of no, you know? And we saw one apartment,
in a converted Victorian-style mansion, not huge and enormous, but so charming.
A fireplace, and wood floors, and a big kitchen and a nook where I could put my
desk, next to the window and overlooking the mountains, and there was something
about it I liked. There was something, however, about the landlord that was
He was super-intense, unable to actually carry on a
conversation; instead, he seemed to be intent on expressing an internal
monologue he had prepared specifically for the occasion, and your attempts to
actually engage with it were met with absolute disinterest and sometimes even a touch of slight annoyance to have been
interrupted. He found it odd, apparently, that I actually wanted to, you know, look at the place. "Boy, you like to look in doors," he said, after I
opened the second one. Uh, yes? I don’t know what I was supposed to reply. I
was expecting a body behind every one of them.
He was weird. He rambled. He did not make so much sense, but
this is the thing—I liked the place. I felt good about the place, and the
light, and the layout, and the fireplace. A half block from the library, a few
blocks from the main drag, charming. And the rent? The rent was like whoa. And
the landlord—oh, you have a property manager, and you’re moving to Washington state? Okay! I took the place. I put down a deposit, ignored the fact that
maybe someone so deeply odd might not be the best choice in landlords, and perhaps
the weirdness would, inexplicably, not translate into professional landlording.
And I still wanted the place, I really did.
I thought, okay, he’s lonely, he’s a little odd, but he’s
very fond of his apartment for rent, he let me lowball him like crazy, and I am
going to paint the living room a kind of steel gray that will be just
spectacular. You see that I might be a little bit of a dreamer. Mostly, though,
I was impatient to have it settled, to have a place I knew I was coming to, heading
toward, and it was going to be home. It was the best place we had seen, and
it was where, I decided, I was going to live. I was going to take a chance on
the crazy, assume that there wasn’t anything that could go too spectacularly
wrong, and take one more (big, huge, important) step toward moving.
So I was regretting that spectacularly poor and
short-sighted decision, which I was advised not to make at all, barreling down I-80 with a truck full of everything at my back, ready to be moved
in! Except not so much, says John the Unreliable Landlord. Can you give me
until Tuesday? What choice do I have, John the Crazy Landlord? Do I look like I have the money for a deposit
somewhere else? That I want to start the hunt all over again? That I can
actually function and consider my options in a rational manner? E. had choices
for me, but they all sounded complicated and too much like taking advantage of
people and I said no, this is going to work. It has to, it has to. Yes, fine, John
the Wretched Landlord, I’ll squat in an empty apartment upstairs for three
days. Awesome. Don’t think I’m not prorating my goddamn rent. And taking the
fee for the rescheduled Comcast appointment out, too.
It was an inauspicious start to my new and exciting
adventure of adventureness. It was exhausting and stupid and frustrating. All I
wanted was to be home, to stop being in transition, to have finally made it and
finally be able to breathe. Instead I was stealing an intermittent wireless
signal, sleeping on a mattress lying in the middle of a studio apartment and
living out of a suitcase, and it sucked. Frankly, it just fucking sucked. And
John the Batshit Landlord was not particularly engendering confidence with his
lurching around and weird monologues and inability to tell me what, exactly,
the fuck was going on that needed to be done.
And yet—it’s Tuesday night, and I am in my bed, in my
bedroom, in my house, and if I weren’t so wiped out, I’d still be pacing the
floor, opening cabinets (the way I like to do) and looking at the walls and the
windows and the floors and being so glad that I am finally, finally home.