I remember the end of Autumn, two years ago. I called the landlord about a leaky pipe in the basement. At the time I was working two jobs full-time, as well as plugging in stories as a freelancer wherever I could. It was a pretty black time. I was never home and not a lot of help with taking care of the kids. The baby was still a baby and the neighbors didn't like us.
We aren't quiet people. We'd like to be, but we're not. We're loud. We're disturbing. We're weird.
But on the day the landlord stopped by, we were worse. We were messy. The house was a wreck and we had two cats. It was a violation of our lease. No pets, even though the neighbors on both sides of us had dogs. I tried to talk our way out of it. I tried to explain the house wasn't usually that big of mess, but it had gotten out of hand recently. I hadn't been home. We'd had a baby. It was right before the holidays. He'd just caught us on a really off day.
He didn't want to hear it. He spewed out some kind of verbal assault I couldn't make heads or tails of. Really, it didn't matter what either of us said. He just wanted us gone.
I remember being furious, but heart-broken.
"I'd never want to stay any place where we're not wanted," I told him. "I'll have us out as soon as I can."
Pretty naturally, I don't like to trouble our new landlord. I'd just as soon not bother him when something little goes wrong. I'd rather just work on it myself. I don't want him poking around. I don't want him thinking about us, except when he cashes the rent check. I want him to think nothing but happy thoughts involving rainbows and unicorns.
Last night the furnace went out. It was 40 degrees in my living room when I got up. This morning, with dread, I called the landlord, explained the situation. He said he'd be right out to take a look. He went to my place while I was at work, while the only ones at the house were the two cats. He called me back.
"Yeah, I'm just going to replace the nasty thing," he said. "I'll get you a couple of heaters to get you through the weekend."
We're pretty much the same people, living the same way. I don't work as many long hours as I used to. At least, there's not so many long hours away from the house. The baby is now three and makes more of a mess than he ever did, but the neighbors have been decent. They get, I think, that we're just trying to get along.
How nice just to get to stay.