Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Taking the Plunge

Lately I've been downright neglectful of my little blog.  I don't really know what it is.  Maybe it's just the time of year.  I didn't post much last year around this time.  Maybe it's the weather, or the upcoming high stakes tests that sucking up so much of my energy.  Maybe it's the fact that, even though I love the little apartment I live in now, it's in a constant state of disorder.  Maybe it's the broken pipe in my kitchen that consumed my Sunday afternoon.  Maybe it's doing laundry at the laundromat that has kept me away from typing.  Maybe it's more.  Maybe it's more closely related to the fact that I've run into Kerri at the gym twice lately and haven't known what to say to her about what happened after . . . wondering if she's avoiding me for the same reasons, or if in the haze of sweat and treadmills she just hasn't noticed me.  Maybe it's that the next story marks the beginning of the big story, the reason this blog exists at all.  Maybe it's that the next story is the catalyst for everything that happened over the next four months.  Maybe it's just that, by not progressing past that spring and the time of the studly firemen, I can stay in a time before things started getting serious -- when Bahrry and Dan and Dirty Artie were funny characters in the revolving housing issues that surrounded my life.  When the whole idea of random roommates seemed more like a game of Russian Roulette than the reality of it all -- by moving in with craislisters, you're entrusting your possessions, your credit, and your well-being to a total stranger you just "had a good feeling about," or shared your philosophy on dishwashing.  Maybe by just staying in those first few months of my twenty-ninth year, I won't need to really think about all those things that happened later.  The ones that make me reconsider my little plan to start counting backward with my upcoming birthday -- to turn twenty-nine again instead of thirty-one.  Twenty-nine wasn't exactly a year worthy of revisiting for me.

I'm probably being a little melodramatic.  Most people get along with their random roommates well enough.  Some people even become friends with them.  Many people leave with stories of hoarder roommates, or crazy people who talk to their cats, or exhibitionists.  I had plenty of good times at twenty-nine.  Maybe I should just tell the stories you've all been waiting for, consider it all character building, and turn thirty-one with pride.  Maybe one of the reasons I haven't been writing lately is because I've been wasting time having an existential crisis not about the futility of life but of . . . blogging.  Which is ridiculous.  Maybe I should remember that I still have some pretty funny stories to tell too -- like some of the things Racist Reggie the landlord said, or the middle of the night bathroom leak that led to another too-short-clothing-and-strangers-in-my-house problem.  Or maybe the fact that I was bound and determined to set up my current apartment myself, without any help, despite knowing that I'm the least handy person alive, thus leading to a nearly severed toe during some bathroom demo (do not wear flip-flops while wielding a hammer at ceramic tiles), and a coat rack that I've given up on after it fell down twice.  Now I just pile my coats on top of it next to the front door.

I think I promised you a story somewhere up there.  Better get to it despite the fact that it's not funny.  If you're in the mood to laugh, might I suggest:  Bathing in the Lap of Luxury, The Stomper, Towels, or the Time I was Kind of an Asshole, or perhaps a good dose of Bahrry in Bahrry the Bizarre.  So anyway, back to Kerri, Elvis the dog, and our lovely little place with the big windows and the washer-dryer.  The spring of 2009 was chugging along pretty well.  Even though  I'd initially only planned on subletting, Kerri had broken up with the boyfriend who was supposed to move in, and my future roommate's job start-date got pushed back by a year, so Kerri and I decided to stay living together.  We were both happily busy with our lives, content in the apartment, and didn't want to mess with a good thing.  We were barely around at the same time, and when we were we'd watch movies, or eat dinner together, or retreat to our rooms for some solitude.  By the time we decided to continue to live together, we were both dating people and in and out of the apartment for days at a time, with or without the boys, to the point where we weren't really sure who to yell at for forgetting to put the toilet seat down.  It was an amicable, comfortable, nice place to live and neither one of us was itching to move.

Without any warning, one day in June, our lives got turned upside down.  Well, more precisely, Kerri's did.  Mine was just collateral damage.  Kerri had moved to NYC five years before and spent the intervening time successfully building up her own business.  She'd suffered a bit during the financial crisis, but managed to hold on thanks to some loyal clients.  Unfortunately, on June 1st, the day our rent was due, that luck ran out.  Right around the same time I was running around with studly firemen in a teeny-tiny bathrobe, Kerri got a phone call while on vacation with the new boy.  Her biggest client, the one who owed her the check that would cover her rent, called to say that they couldn't use her services anymore.  They were going under.  Not only that, but they couldn't pay her what they owed her.  They would try to get it to her eventually, but she certainly wasn't going to have it by the due date.  Kerri collapsed in the airport.  She was basically told that her business had failed.  She still had a few small clients, but not enough to sustain a living, particularly in such a high-cost place like NYC.

So Kerri spent the rest of her vacation trying to figure out the rest of her life.  Instead of reading trashy magazines on the beach, she had to figure out whether to cut her loses and close her business, her dream.  She had to figure out how to pay the rent in a year that already had been pretty tough financially.  She had to figure out if she could even stay in NYC.  Far, far down on the list, I'm sure, was what to do about this roommate back in Brooklyn who was enjoying being roommate-free for the week but kind of liked having her roommate and the dog around from time to time.  The roommate whose rent-check, courtesy of a worry-free City Employee payroll system, was waiting on the kitchen table for its mate so they could be sent together.

When Kerri got home the next weekend, she told me everything.  She had figured out that that only way to save her business was to move back home with her parents in Massachusetts, keep the clients she had and work remotely to try to build up a larger client base with the hope to eventually come back.  The issue of the rent was still up in the air, but she had a friend who was willing to help her out.  This friend, Yvette, had always loved the apartment and had a little savings.  She wanted to lend the June rent to Kerri, provided she could move into her room in July.  I could stay, of course, it just hinged on me being OK with Yvette as a roommate, and with sharing the cost of the utilities (which Kerri had covered in full because of the dog).  I agreed.  It's not like I could advertise on craigslist for a roommate who would have to pay all of the coned bill, or that I even had the time to look for a roommate before heading to Costa Rica to volunteer for six weeks for summer vacation.  I'd only met Yvette once, but she seemed nice enough, and really, who could be worse than Bahrry?  Famous last words . . .

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