Monday, May 2, 2016


Tales from a past life: volume 2

We decided to move in together after 6 months. I'd just turned 21 and we rented half a duplex that a friend had recently bought. We stayed there a little less than a year. He and his sister owned a house together. Rather, they'd inherited a house. Their dad passed away 2 years before I met him, but he was still riddled with debilitating grief. He was unemployed when we met, living through the life insurance money. Having recently split from a guy ten years my senior who was happy to have me support him, I was just glad he could pay his own bills.

After living in the duplex a while, he suggested that we move into the house he half owned. I was concerned that living in the house his dad died in might not be a good idea... his severe depression and resultant alcohol abuse were all tied to the death of his dad. But.. we did it anyway. We lived there almost 3 years. I have some fond memories of that time. Some terrible ones too, of course. I talk a lot about how shitty it was, and all the unspeakably unkind things I endured, but there were good times too. There were jam sessions and, until the one I have now, the garden I am most proud of. There was day-drinking white wine over ice in a blow up pool and eating garlic stuffed olives on a 108 degree day because the AC didn't work. How delightfully white trash that was.

That was the house at which the most drywall holes occurred. One year we threw a Halloween party and I bought a roll of cheesy haunted house wall decor sheeting to cover them up. Drywall patches are fine but you cant patch a hole in a door. It was the house at which I was chased into the garage and heard the hiss of all four of my tires slashed as I ran down the street at 2am, calling my friend to come pick me up. It was the house in which he learned that calling me a cunt got a rise out of me and then employed it any chance he got. It was then the house in which I learned to desensitize myself to name calling.

I don't recall exactly how the decision was made that we'd move out and that they'd sell the place, but that became the plan. He got the ball rolling, hired the real estate agent he thought his dad would have wanted... and then he checked out. We had a large waste pickup scheduled... the kind where you place a heap of junk on the street. We had a lot of things to clear out to get the house staged, and because he was hungover he elected to nap instead of help. He insisted that he'd help out later but I knew better. I did it all myself.

Eventually the process became too much to bear. He basically had a nervous breakdown and said he couldn't be in the house. There was still paperwork to be done with the agent, and all our stuff needed to be packed. But he just... couldn't be there. A friend's place was furnished but empty, because she'd begun staying with her new boyfriend. He stayed there for 2 and a half weeks, living like an invalid, while I ran around like a courier with real estate documents, packed the house on my own, shuttled the dogs across town at a moment's notice (not to mention coordinating where they could go) in case the house was going to be shown to a prospective buyer. Oh, and I was also responsible for finding a new place to live. And I had a full time job. I essentially managed the sale of a house I didn't own, while effectively homeless and taking care of an unstable adult.

I work well under pressure. I handled everything without cracking, somehow. I found us a place to live and I had high hopes for a more normal future, as I was attributing the chaos to his living in a high-trigger environment. The plan was that once the house sold, we'd use his payout as a down payment on our own house. Eventually the house did sell, and he received the payout about 2 weeks before he had a falling-out with his only client. He chose to live on the money from the house instead of trying to find a new job. I vacillated between a cocktail of anxiety and fury as I watched it trickle away over the next year, and a resolute acceptance because it was never my money to care about to begin with. I mean.. we were married so one would think that coming to a financial middle ground would be reasonable, but no. I've always maintained the stance that I don't need your money, so I refused to bring it up as a point of contention. In hindsight, not merging finances made the divorce much cleaner.

Can I just say, it feels SO. FUCKING. GOOD. to have bought my house on my own. I alone needed to be present to sign paperwork. I alone am responsible for paying the mortgage. I alone make decisions about what improvements to make, how to organize the cabinets, what color to paint a room, what to plant in the yard. I'm not waiting on anyone to get off his ass, because most of what needs doing I can happily do myself, and if I can't I'm sure I can find someone I can pay to do it for me. While I am accustomed to doing everything myself, even in partnerships, the absence of someone who ought to be helping makes the whole experience better. I don't need your money. I have my own, thanks.

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