Saturday, February 27, 2010

One Full Year of Bliss

Apparently, getting a landlady who lived on the other side of the country was key to my happiness.  For one full year, I lived completely unmolested in my lovely little apartment with both heat AND hot water.  I even had internet and splurged on a cordless phone, relegating the rotary phone made by the Soviets in 1980 (the year I was born) to the closet.  I never even heard from Myroslava, the landlady, with the exception of a vague promise she made to my coordinator to come by sometime during the summer to check on the apartment.

Given my history with crazy Luba, I didn't particularly want Myroslava in the apartment.  Luba had had a problem with the most ridiculous things, like leaving a chair in the middle of the room, that really weren't any of her business, and I just didn't want to deal with all of that again, especially since my service was coming to an end in November.  I was hoping I'd be out of town when she was around, but just in case, I didn't answer any local calls (the ring is different for long distance, indicating people I actually wanted to talk to) when I was home.

She outsmarted me, though.  One afternoon, shortly after a weekend visit from a bunch of volunteers from other villages, there was a knock on my door.  "Маргарет, это вашa сусідka," (Margaret, it's your neighbor, in a mix of Russian and Ukrainian).  I looked through the peephole, and true enough, there was my neighbor, so I opened the door.  It wasn't just my neighbor.  My landlady was hiding around the corner, and she barreled her way to the door, which I unsuccessfully tried to shut before she got there.  I tried to explain that the place was a mess, and I was embarrassed (both true) and that, if she came back in a few hours I would have it clean.  She, literally, pushed her way into the apartment.

Then she started her barrage of complaints.  Why was I using the sheets she left there?  Why was I using the pan she left there?  Because you didn't leave them in spot we decided on in the spring.  The spot where you would leave anything you didn't want me to use.  Why did I move the couch from the bedroom to the living room?  Why was the table in the bedroom?  Why did you rearrange the kitchen?  Why did you put up a shower curtain?  Why did you put pictures on the walls?  Because I live about 6,000 miles away from home and I wanted to make this place mine.  I will fix it all.  Americans have this thing called a security deposit, where you pay your landlord ahead of time to ensure no damage is done.  I will leave the apartment exactly as I found it when I moved it.

After griping a bit more (Why did you put a hammock on the balcony?  Because the one time I tried to read in the park a drunk man asked me to touch his snake, and I'd like to read outside without that bother, thank you very much), she finally left.  I locked the door, on which the locks had been changed, and vowed never to open the door for the neighbors again.

Life is all rainbows and butterflies when your landlady lives an eighteen hour train ride away.

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