Tuesday, September 26, 2017

My old home

Someone posted this picture on Facebook in the middle of Hurricane Harvey.  I found it when I facebook searched the name of the complex.

All first floor units had waist deep water.  I was on the second floor, but in time, you know mold will creep up to that floor.

In the 6 years that I lived there, management flipped some 5 or 6 times.  The most recent management was pretty unscrupulous.  The first ones were wonderful.  It used to be a very nice place.  I remember sometime around New Years, either the very end of 2016 or the very beginning of 2017, I was standing in the courtyard in the freezing cold with a blanket around my head and torso, just looking around me and intuitively knowing that it was time to go.  My lease was to be up on February 28th.  It was just this overwhelming knowingness that I should, even though I didn't want to.  So I went upstairs, drafted a 60 day notice with a check for February rent, since I had already paid for January.

It has not been easy.  My parents are aging, and I'm realizing what it's like to have 3 kids.  If one of them died, the other couldn't handle being alone.  I think it was April when a friend and I found this cute little pink house that we wanted to rent together as roommates.  She has two girls, and since I only have one, we agreed that I would only pay 2/5 of the rent and utilities.  But my ex-husband didn't approve of the location.  He said it was too far for him.  My friend didn't qualify for it without me, so the whole plan fell through.  My ex has the suburban naivety that the closer into town you get, the more dangerous it is.  Then, he had the nerve to want my daughter to walk home from school alone, from her new middle school to my parents' house, so he wouldn't have to wait in the pick up lines on the days that are his days to get her (every Friday and most Thursdays).  It's 0.9 miles and all through residential streets.  But I totally put my foot down on that one.  She is not walking home alone unless it's over my dead body.  He told me to show her the google image of the route she'd take.  No, and no.  If I choose to walk that route to pick her up one day, she'll walk with me.  My ex insisted, and I lashed out at him to start making missing child posters and saving money for a private investigator.  He retorted that the houses behind my parents' house on the way to the school "look nice".  I insisted that "looking like nice houses" doesn't mean A THING.  Jaycee Dugard  lived in beautiful Lake Tahoe when she was abducted.  I'm not sure he knows who Jaycee Dugard is, but if he really wanted to, he'd have googled her.  Elizabeth Smart lived in a very wealthy part of Salt Lake when she was abducted.  Then he called me paranoid.   I said, who's the paranoid one, the one that believes bad things only happen in urban areas, or the one that has learned by now that good and evil are everywhere?

Technically, I am the custodial parent, and it's in the divorce decree that I can live where I want.  But keeping him happy is what's best for Anna in the long run.  Nonetheless, it would be so much more convenient for me and Anna to live closer into town, not just because of my work, but because when she starts high school in 4 years, she wants to attend a magnet high school for kids who want to be doctors.
Living in the city, however, would not be convenient as my parents really, really age, which is inevitable.

But back to my old apartment complex which was home for 6 years.

All first floor units became unlivable.  I drove there for the first time on about the 4th or 5th of September.  The place was totally and completely trashed from people throwing out their damaged belongings.  It looked like a landfill.  I found a guy just sitting outside of his first floor apartment.  I think he was smoking a joint, but I wasn't sure.  I told him that I used to live here, and we struck up conversation.  I asked how management was treating them.  He replied that they're giving people problems.  I asked if they were still expecting rent to be paid for September.  He said, "Yes, with late fees piling up every day."  I asked him if there was anything I could do for him.  He said no.  I told him about some places that I knew were offering temporary shelter and told him good luck. Then I found a second guy who said the exact same thing.  Rent still expected, and late fees started on the third as they always have.  I went home, and on the news was an attorney being interviewed about renters' rights.  He stated that if your home is unlivable, then you have the right to break your lease immediately.  I went back to my old complex about 3 days later and talked to someone else who said they were now giving people until the 15th to pay September rent.  This was several days before the 15th.  I thought to myself, if they are extending it until then, and it's legal to break your lease, then break your lease and run away.  Where would they go, you may ask?  I don't know.  If they didn't have any family or any money, there were a lot of temporary shelters set up.   I would have done it, even if it meant living in a temporary shelter.  

This past week, I drove by again, and it looked like even more of a massive landfill.  Only this time, it was not people's old belongings that were scattered everywhere.  It was all wooden wall beams and wall insulation, most likely because they are gutting the apartments for mold removal.  I almost started crying.  I flashed back to the night I stood in the cold at 3 am knowing it was time to leave, even though I didn't want to.  I told my parents' priest about it when he sat with us for a while.  He told me that was the Holy Spirit.  I nodded.  Others with other beliefs would have called it something else, but Holy Spirit works for me.

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