I hear your dragging footsteps shuffling toward the bathroom.
I hear the curtain slide back, the metal hooks jangling and scraping along the rod. The curtain protesting such rough handling as the hooks tangle together. Tangle again. Tangle for the final time.
The water pounds down into the tub, and I wait a beat, hoping you remember to turn on the fan in the tiny bathroom. Lying in bed, with my head along the wall, I hear every breath you take and am thankful that this, today, is the final day of sharing space.
720 square feet should be plenty of space for two people, two polite people, to share. Easily. But it takes more patience than I have to do all the work necessary to get along with an entitled child. A homeless, out of options, but not one of “those” homeless people entitled child.
Yesterday, the day we’d both waited for, was exhausting as I listened to all your doubts and fears on parade. “Two years. Two! What if I’m miserable? There’s a shared kitchen. A tiny microwave. A small fridge… I suppose I can buy a convection oven so that I don’t need to use the kitchen. I want to bake!” you complained, as you made it clear that this stepping stone to elderly and disabled subsidized housing was beneath your standards.
The rent is $1,420 (market rate), and after being approved by the public housing department, your rent was discounted by almost 90%, coming in at a mere $148. If you’re careful, your $600 a month income will be enough to cover the essentials, and your $200 in food stamps will ensure you eat well.
Within walking distance, which is important because you never learned to drive, you have:
- Whole Foods
- Target / CVS
- AMC movies (if we ever are allowed to go to the movies again)
- The Bean Scene Coffee Shop
- Bars, Restaurants, Gumba’s Pizzaria, and Dish Dash Indian cuisine
So many opportunities to build a new life in a very safe neighborhood, a walkable neighborhood, with bus service (bus service that actually runs in the pandemic) at the curb outside your door, and CalTrans train service within two blocks.
Missing society, there will be street music on Friday and Saturday nights, and art and wine festivals in the Summer months. If everyone gets the vaccine. If we ever leave the purple tier and are allowed to dine outdoors and socialize again.
It’s been a long, exhausting, year and a half trying to help you and ease the family burden on one of my best friends and her husband. Worthwhile? Yes. Frustrating, though. Very frustrating because you refused to do all the things you said you would do to find a new home. And I was stuck with your frustration and anger and entitledness. Your petty space wars as you took over my house. Your petty battles where you needed to claim every inch of MY HOME for your own stuff. Even though you were supposed to be limited to your room for storage of your stuff.
I had to put up with being yelled at in my own home, controlling my own temper because you have zero concept about boundaries, and my peaceful lifestyle gets on your nerves.
No more battles over the music. Me at one end of the house, and you at the other, with my music playing peacefully within my room until it’s overwhelmed by your music at an ear-splitting volume. Petty space wars? Absolutely.
Asking you to be courteous and turn it down only gets me a door slam. Again. Forget about you checking in before you jump in the shower or do the laundry, making endless noise from squeaking pipes and slamming crockery while I’m still in bed or napping. Napping ! My living room couch will be mine again. Bonus !
I hear you shut off the shower, slamming back the curtain on the rod. It’s moving day and this is the very last time I’m going to have to trail behind you, setting things to rights, cleaning in your wake of disinterested chaos.
I’m almost free of the necessary obligation you represent. I’ve tried to be kind, but it’s been hard. I’ve tried to manage my own frayed nerves when you refuse to even be polite, never mind considerate or courteous,
I’m almost free of the whispered conversations with your sister, my very good friend, about how frustrated you make me and how exhausting your rages are for both of us as we try and get along with you during this difficult time. We’ve all been walking on eggshells around you, and my participation in this exhausting, petty, game is almost done.
Today is a good day.
Must be my fairy godmother looking out for both of us.
I can taste freedom just hours away… today is a good day, regardless of how difficult you decide to make it.