Friday, May 02, 2008
There are lilac bushes next to the new house and a planter at the front of the house and along the side from the deck to the back of the house. The side planter is full of low growing evergreens and there's some kind of climbing plant in the front planter. I can't tell what it is because there are just bare branches now.
I went over to the house and unlocked the door with my keys after I picked them up. The place is mine now. I walked through it, checked all the doors and cabinets and it's bigger and smaller than I thought. The bedroom that will be my office has a big closet with a shelf for files and books and there's a built-in floor-to-ceiling bookcase just inside the door. The utility closet is big enough for the washer and dryer and there are hookups. The bathroom is bigger, too, and I have decided to get a hemp shower curtain. I have to measure my bed to see which way it will fit in the master bedroom. It's small, really small, but I'll work it out even if I have to sell my bed and get something smaller. I'll work it out. The refrigerator is smaller than here but it's perfect for the house and fits in with everything else and I can't wait to start using the gas stove and the dishwasher. I want to find out how I can work in some other means of electricity and heat with something like passive solar to cut down on costs, but that will come later. I also want to find a screen for the entry (what people call a mud room nowadays) to camouflage the open closet area. And I think I'm going to buy a grill for the deck so I can BBQ outside once in a while. I can also grill vegetables and smoke meat and vegetables for freezing and canning and meals.
After my quick and idyllic trek to the new place to mark my territory, I came back here and the landlady accosted me in the hall. It has become a habit with her that she rushes out of her apartment to catch me in the hall either coming or going and one of the reasons why I feel like a prisoner here sometimes. It wasn't always this way and my manner of handling it has been to run errands at odd hours or when she's gone. She said she didn't want to leave things as they were (that's obvious) and that she wanted to part on good terms, and I don't have a problem with that, but she wanted all the details of where I'm moving and how much I'm paying and why no one called her for a reference. I told her it was less than what I pay here and it's a house. Since the deal is signed and I have the keys, and the money has been paid, I felt it was time to tell her where I'm moving. We had a short discussion and rehashed the same disagreement and I said thank you and goodbye and came upstairs.
While I checked my email I heard her car start and saw her drive down the street. She turned onto Pikes Peak, the street I'll be living on as of next week, and went east towards the house. I have a feeling she went to check out the house. She either didn't believe me or she's just being nosy, probably the latter.
As I sat in my office and watched the afternoon brighten and clear and the snow clouds break up, I looked around at the mountains, the tree next door filling with dark pink blossoms and a baby squirrel in the squirrel porn tree snacking on buds and new pale yellow-green leaves. The sun room with its wealth of light and warmth and the views of the mountains and the neighborhood is why I've stayed so long. I put up with Nel's moods and noise and the landlady's prying and questions because of that view. I'm reluctant to leave it. Even now, as I sit here writing with the sun glinting off the windows, I feel a little sad and then I see the laundry piled in the corner because I can't use the washer and dryer when I need them, or when it's convenient for me, and the cool dim living room where I can't open the windows at night to breathe the cold fresh air because the landlady sees and calls up to tell me to shut them, and the bathroom that should be filled with light and fresh air but the landlady has warned me about leaving the windows open and listens to me on the phone or climbs up the ladder to "check the gutters" when the blinds are open to listen in and see what she can see and I realize what I love most about this place, this haven, is not worth the hassles.
The landlady is a good-hearted person and she's generous and shares food when she makes five-quart pots of soup or a big fruit cobbler, but more and more it seems a cover, a trade-off. It is beginning to seem like she is nice so she can pry into my life and what's going on in my home. I have seen her go into Nel's apartment and close the windows when Nel's at work because she didn't like having them open when she has the furnace on, and I understand the need to save on heating bills, except there is no working thermostat up here in my apartment or Nel's and she controls the heat; it's all determined by her thermostat. Nel and I have space heaters to compensate for the lack of heat control. The landlady goes into Nel's apartment at other times when she isn't home to check because she hears a sound. She's done it here, too, and I was home when she walked in the door and looked around. I guess she thought I was gone, but her excuse is that she heard something fall. I locked the doors after that and changed the locks when that didn't stop her. She demanded a key, which I had to give her. I can tell when someone has been in my apartment when I've been gone and it's one of the reasons I don't leave here very often, unless she is out, because I don't like having someone go through my things. And yet she's a nice person and I do like her. It's like any relationship, you learn to live with each other's quirks and idiosyncrasies.
I'm sure she isn't comfortable with me either. I keep to myself and I don't like to sit and drink a bottle or two of wine every night. I'm quiet and a bit of a hermit sometimes and I work at odd hours, compared to her and Nel. I don't play the television or radio loudly and I keep to myself most of the time because I'm usually working or writing or researching. I'm not a social butterfly, although I can be, but I have to make a living and further my writing career.
As much as I'm going to miss the light and the mountains and the neighborhood outside the sun room windows, I'm going to enjoy the privacy and not having someone prying into my life and walking into my home whenever they feel the need. The landlady and I can be friends from a distance. It might even improve our relationship. I don't know if she was always this way or became this way after Marius moved in and changed the energy around here, but I know the place feels different. Even my ghost, George, has been quiet lately. I feel his presence less and less as though he's retreating into some forgotten corner. I don't know if it's because of my silence or because he's not happy with me leaving. He's close by and I feel him like a protective warmth, wrapping me in the scent of rain-washed pine, when the landlady is lurking outside the door or outside under my windows when I'm talking on the phone with the windows open, warning me to be careful. It's a little disconcerting sometimes. I didn't know ghosts could be so moody and watchful, but I guess they would be since they have nothing in their own existence to engage their interest.
This place was obviously temporary and that's all right. I'm used to temporary. I know the house is temporary because my house is still waiting for me. If my mother has anything to say about it, my house will be back in Ohio. She read me the list of houses for sale in the neighborhood where I lived as a teenager. Beautiful old Victorian and Craftsman homes listed for under $20,000 with payments below $100. I recognize some of the houses she mentioned and I couldn't believe what she told me. Now is the time to buy real estate. At those rates, I could buy five houses and still pay less than I pay for rent right now, maybe even ten houses. She would like me to come back and live there, especially now since her remaining kidney is failing and she has decided to refuse dialysis and a transplant. I told her since she was so ready to die, this was a good time to do it. Her insurance, even split four ways, will be more than enough to set my siblings and I up for life as real estate moguls. She laughed. Carol wouldn't laugh though if she heard us; she takes a very dim view of joking about death and dying. Mom has her faults but she at least has a sense of humor about mortality. It's another dysfunctional relationship where I've learned to work around the difficulties and find a common ground.
I'm sure I'll have to find some common ground even with the new landlord who told me yesterday he drives by the house every day on his way to and from work. He lives on the west side, too, and has for thirty years. Somehow, driving by the house isn't quite the same as living in the same house and I doubt he'll walk in and go through my things when I'm not home or tell me to close the windows or listen to my conversations when the windows are open or freeze me in the winter and roast me the rest of the time because I will control the heat. I know he won't count how many times I flush the toilets or take a shower or run water to wash the dishes either. I won't be able to see the mountains unless I go outside, and there will be no more squirrel porn tree to watch when I should be working and no trees budding with leaves and blossoms. But there will be lilac just outside the door and space for an herb garden in the front planter. There will eventually be a grill of my own to barbecue, smoke and cook meat and vegetables. There will be space for a table and chairs and a breakfast bar with stools next to a gas stove with a real broiler underneath and plenty of windows to open to bring in the fresh air and the scent of plants and flowers. It will be enough for now and I'll have the time to find what I really want, a home of my own in just the right spot with land for kitchen and herb gardens, flowers and trees with plenty of space and wildlife, and no neighbors right next to me without any breathing room. I have time. In the meantime, there's work and writing, peace and privacy, and memories and photos of the view outside the sun room windows. It's trade-off, but isn't that what most of life is about?
That is all. Disperse.