Thursday, September 13, 2018


Do you ever have one of those moments when you do something so incredibly stupid, and
you have only yourself to be furious with? Looking back, I like to call that particular
moment August. I ignored my intuition and let my boundaries be trampled over, but I can
really only blame myself for the approximately 720 hours of hell that was the month
of August. Let this be a cautionary tale, friends.
We were supposed to be moving to Castle Rock, and thought it would be the end of
August to mid-September. An employee at a local restaurant overheard me say that I was
going to be renting my house when we closed on the Castle Rock home. He was
super-interested and told me about what an absolute great tenant he was,
how he was so clean that you could eat off of his floors, and on and on. I worked
with him, he seemed to have it together at the restaurant, and he talked a great story.
After several conversations, I decided that I would rent to him.

Fast forward to mid-July. He came to me, saying that he had to be out of his
current home by August first. He asked if he could possibly move in early.
Every alarm bell in my head went off, saying “Oh, hell no.” But, being the nice girl whom
I was raised to be, I said sure, since it would just be for a few weeks at most.
We had an extra room, he worked a million hours a week and said he would
basically never be there, and he had already told me so much about what a clean
freak he was.
August first. He moved his stuff in. ALL of his stuff in. More furniture than
my family had times three. It was hard to walk through any room, and my lawn
mower was a distant memory, wedged behind approximately forty pieces of furniture
in the garage. It was so instantly crowded that I rented a storage unit for the things
I was planning on moving to Castle Rock anyway. And then night fell. For someone
who was hardly ever there, he was there all of the time. But he left his room every
hour until four or five in the morning to go outside and smoke. Every. Fricking. Hour.
My dogs, being the good dogs that they are, felt compelled to let me know EVERY hour
that the door was opened or closed. This went on for a month. There was trash in my
yard, leftovers that were just stuck by the garage door instead of being thrown away-
maybe we were trying a different tack and attempting to feed the bears? There
were hundreds of cigarette butts overflowing from a coffee cup into my yard,
along with their wrappers and trash. There was a room that, according to one
unnamed person, made my house smell like“cigarettes, sadness, and pastrami farts.”
I peeked into it one day because I had a handyman coming over to price some small
fixes, and the stench from the mountain of empty tequila bottles, empty food containers,
unwashed clothes, and pot ground into the carpet ensured that the appointment
got rescheduled.
The final straw, besides the staying up literally all night every night smoking
and playing video games, was the night that I finally got up to let the dogs out after half
a dozen doors opening and closing. There, in my kitchen, was some very big drunk guy
from the bar up the street. My “tenant” mumbled that he was just taking a friend home who
was too drunk to drive, but I was too mad to even speak. After I thought about it, I decided
that was the dealbreaker. Bringing some drunk stranger into my home when
I was asleep, at my most vulnerable, was beyond all of the other stuff.
He made me feel unsafe in my own home, and that was not fixable.

I kicked him out. I told him I regretted it, that the house purchase was simply taking
too long, but it was really that he violated my house- my home. To his credit, he was out
within ten days, though he tried several different tactics to stay or still rent my house.
The day he moved his stuff, I finally took stock of his room. It was so bad.
I threw away curtains, replaced a screen. I bleached walls and ceilings. I pre-treated
and treated and steamed the carpets twice, but they still have to be ripped up. I have
sprinkled baking soda and Febreze and burned sage- it almost hides the remains of August
, but then a weird pastrami and burnt plastic smell will seep through.
I don’t know when we are moving. I do know that the degradation of those thirty days
opened my eyes to how fiercely I love my little house. I have spent every free moment the
last two weeks trying to make it feel safe and cozy again. My sister told me to quit being so
angry at myself, that if I hadn’t lived through that awful August, God only knows how
damaged my house would have been with him as a true tenant for any length of time.
So I have also spent the last two weeks trying to be gentle to myself, telling myself
that I learned a lesson to listen to my gut and keep my boundaries. I now lock my doors-
a first in the last four years, because the feeling of a stranger being there while I slept
has not left. Did I mention that I should truly be a cautionary tale?
If I do move to Castle Rock, there will be an adorable little house for rent.
However, beyond your word that you are a great tenant, I am going to need proof of
your 780 credit score, glowing words of recommendation from at least two prior landlords,
a down payment plus first and last month’s rent, proof that you are a registered voter and
a concerned citizen, copies of your pay stubs, and a vial of unicorn tears. For starters.

Peace and bleach and locked doors, buttercups. XX

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