Huntress of the Lens


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Anything from Monopoly could happen!

I have rented the house we live in for the past 14 years. I've raised my kids here, and after this much time it feels like my home. I've never been given the opportunity to sign a lease, it's been 14 years of month to month rental, with the idea of eviction for one reason or another looming around the first of every month. I've never feared being evicted for non-payment of rent, I'm always right on time with that. When things need repair or replacement I don't call the property management company, I get it handled because I don't want them to remember that I even exist at a rental rate that seemed high 14 years ago.

I've replaced major appliances (Big Daddy bought me a new stove one year) and converted the attic to a studio. I had the back room re-roofed because it was leaking, I spent around six thousand dollars last year to have the floor in the bathroom replaced because it was getting spongy. I've been a good tenant for almost a decade and a half.

In 2006 my property owner told me that he would be retiring this year, and it was his plan to move back into this house. That started a four year time-clock ticking, the kind you see strapped to cartoon bombs. My best response was to start saving money. I had four years.

I was able to set aside an amount, unimaginable in its scope and size based on my previous years of life experience. I think it was about as much as my Big Daddy and Dottie paid for their first house in the stone age in which I was born. I kept it in a safety deposit box, and visited it regularly, just to run my fingertips over the row of envelopes lined up together. There was a thousand dollars in each envelope, and it was my secret, no one knew I had it, not even Michael.

I used to call it my "Downpayment on our own house" fund as I watched it grow. I loved having it, it represented security, and possibility, and that I had become a real grownup who could plan for the future.

Then the economy went south, big-time.

Michael used to be a commercial painter, until people stopped painting, building or remodeling things and he found himself a painter no more. He spent four to six hours a day looking for a job, any job and found one that has actually turned out to be something good that is worth sticking with long-term. He was recently promoted to manager and we have real health insurance for the first time in a million years. During the down time though, I dipped into my secret cache to cover the expenses of life. Add some adult children who were either unemployed or under-employed living here with us, and one who was just a regular teenager who happens to be female and very, very expensive. It fell to me to cover all of this while my own business suffered those harsh economic times and wasn't really even supporting itself. What started in hope became a tool for survival, and the box is empty now. Thank the Universe I had it, or we would have all been living under a bridge long ago.

It's 2010 now, and the cartoon bomb may be going off soon. I got a letter from the
owner, ambiguous yet friendly, and completely unclear as to what is going to happen. I have a deep and undeniable need to control the entire universe and I am completely out of my comfort zone.

In no way does the letter come across as threatening or dire, but that certainly doesn't keep me from freaking out. Michael and my dear friend Scott talked me down from the ledge and I know that in one way or another everything will be fine. Scott knows the world of finance, and Michael is my endless fount of optimism. "Honey, anything from Monopoly could happen!" is the best thing he's said to me all morning.

So, no conclusions have been reached, and I don't run the whole show. I am simultaneously scrabbling to control everything through the force of my own iron-clad will, and feeling like a little kid pretending to be a grownup.

I want my Big Daddy. I want to be small enough to sit in his lap.

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The fish can fly, the dogs and cats dance together and all the flowers are edible.