In the end, Scott negotiated for me an apartment larger than my old one by 179 square feet (16.6 m2), movers, and a year lease for my current rate. The boy did good.
Saturday morning I sat down in the leasing office to sign the new papers. "Here's an application for you to complete. And here's one for Scott," the assistant manager said as she handed me two applications.
"Why do I have to fill out another application?"
"We're treating this as a new lease instead of as a transfer."
"Er, okay. But why one for Scott? He doesn't live with me."
"Your lease says anyone who has been here for 14 days is required to be on the lease." The assistant manager brushed her flat, platinum blonde hair behind one ear.
"But he hasn't established residency here. He doesn't get his mail here. He has his own lease."
"He's living here! We've seen him around the grounds and we worked with him on your new lease."
"He's not living here. His things aren't here! This is MY apartment and MY lease."
She sat back in her chair, high on her power trip, and folded her arms, "I don't believe you," she smirked.
I took my keys and slid them across the desk. "Here. Go check my apartment. His stuff isn't there. Go check my mailbox; he has no mail there."
"I'm not going to do that."
"Then don't call me a liar!" I shouted.
"You are in violation of your lease by having him here for 14 days."
"You are in violation of the lease by failing to provide me a 'habitable' apartment!"
I thought my movie-star line would impress her. It didn't. "We're mending that by providing you a new apartment," she said statically. She leaned forward for emphasis, "And he is living here. We all know it."
"He's a visitor!"
"No he's not!"
I wanted to scratch her eyes out. "Prove it," I stated.
"We don't need to. Either he is on the lease on we're scratching the whole deal and you can move out today and find someplace else to live. He said 'we' in reference to everything about your apartment. We discussed the details of your lease with him."
"That's your fault. I don't care that you discussed it with him, but you should have looked up my file and made sure he was on it. If it's against your policy to discuss details of the lease with people not on it, then that's your error. Besides me being out of town last week to attend a FUNERAL--which you knew about--I have always been present with Scott with concerns about my apartment."
"He showed a vested interest in your new apartment."
"He doesn't give a shit about your apartments! He cares about me! He has a vested interest in me!" I fought back.
"He has to be on this lease," she mechanically stated.
"No!" I let out weakly.
"Then you're not getting the keys to your new apartment," the bitch smiled triumphantly.
"Look. We're not married. He's not related to me. I don't understand why he's required to be on legal documents when he doesn't live with me." I looked at her hand. Somehow this horrible girl snagged a fiance because a diamond sparkled on her stupid, manicured finger. "You've had boyfriends before, right?" I tried again.
"I don't see how that's relevant," she quipped back.
"It is relevant! Do you want every boyfriend you've ever had on your leases? Scott's just a boyfriend!"
"It's so easy to get him off your lease. You just have to fill out a form. It takes two minutes!"
"Can I fill out a roommate release form on Monday?"
I thought I had won when she sat in silence for a moment. "If he's vacated," she worked out.
"BUT HE DOESN'T LIVE HERE! THERE'S NOTHING TO VACATE!" Gaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!
I slowly went from anger to defeat. It was just too much and I was having the most ridiculous fight in the history of apartment renting. My chin sank to my chest and I began to cry. She became wide-eyed with sheer horror at my display of any emotion. "Why are you trying to take away my independence?" I cried. "It's my apartment in the city and I don't want a boy's name on my lease. It's my apartment. Why are you taking that away from me?"
"We're not," she stated unsympathetically. "Why don't you go back to your apartment and call Scott and work out what you need to to get him on the lease." She just wanted the crying girl out of her leasing office.
I called Scott at work sobbing uncontrollably. He immediately left work and tried his hand at yelling at the horrible woman. But of course the person with possession of the keys to the new apartment has all power. He signed the papers.
The leak; the new, larger one-bedroom; Scott being forced on the lease--I was tired of arguing with what seemed like the stars aligning. Neither one of use spoke a word, but we both knew that him moving in was graduating from eventually to imminently.
~Thursday, September 27, 2007
In the end, Scott negotiated for me an apartment larger than my old one by 179 square feet (16.6 m2), movers, and a year lease for my current rate. The boy did good.
~Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Unfortunately for me, the day I was going down to my leasing office to make my demands was the day that my family fell apart. I sat on the side of my bed, puffy eyed and my upper lip stained from the glass of red wine Scott poured me.
"I, um, I think I have everything," I murmured as I blankly looked at my suitcase.
"Do you have underwear? Socks?" he asked.
"I don't need socks. It's too warm for socks."
"But you're going up north. It's colder there than it is here."
"I'll be okay."
Scott wrapped his arms around me, quickly running a hand over the top of my head before resting it around my back, "Will you?"
I groaned, "Ugh, my apartment!"
"We'll go now."
The manager I've been working with wasn't there, so we made my demands to the assistant manager. After listening to everything I went through and everything I wanted, she said, "Well I can't make that decision without Gwen. So I'll just send her an e-mail and I'll give you a call."
"Don't call her," Scott interrupted. "She just had a few deaths in the family and she's on her way out of town. Give me a call and I'll run it by her when I talk to her."
I sat there mute. I was exhausted and I hadn't even driven the eight hours to the family farm yet. I was barely even packed. She requested Scott's numbers and we left.
"Good news, baby!" Scott chirped the next day. "Gwen's going to give you the larger apartment. You have a choice of three different floor plans. I already took the keys and looked at them. One has a study and a garden view, but I know you don't care for the garden view."
"I just refuse to pay extra for an apartment based on the view. I couldn't care less about a view. My last one overlooked the condos next door and had a partial city view and I was fine with that. Seriously, I'm not getting an apartment based on the view," I sighed. "Besides, you know the 'garden' is actually a pine island with a bush."
"Well, they had another one. It was bigger than the garden apartment, but it doesn't have a study. Instead this one has a huge balcony and overlooks the pool! I really think you'll like this one. It has a huge great room. You can put a kitchen table and bookshelves in it, plus your living room furniture."
"Well if the square footage is taken up by the balcony," I began. "You know I don't spend any time on there."
"But you will because of the pool view!" I clenched my fist. I don't care. about. a. view. It's more important to me to have space to live in. What good is it if it's outside and constructed by 2x4s?
"Well it excited me. And I'm out there a lot when I smoke," finished Scott. "I really think you'll like this one. It's so big."
I really had the best boyfriend. I had to go out of town and he had completely taken care of my apartment situation. He negotiated with my landlord, and is looking at the new floor plans for me, trying to decide whether I would like it or not. He knew I was under a lot of stress and he was doing everything he could to help.
"I trust you," I said somberly, the mood of the farm house engulfing me. Strangers coming over to offer me condolences. I had to sit, smile, and nod when I didn't even want to be in the house at all. "It just sucks that I can't even pick out my own apartment. I won't even see it until I move in. When am I moving?"
"Saturday. When are you coming home?"
That gave me three days.
~Friday, September 21, 2007
The agency who runs my building had set aside another apartment for me to move into. Only whereas my loft was centrally located by both the parking garage and the amenities, the new apartment was located on the other side of the grounds, requiring two elevators and walking across the garage to reach. It was 50 square feet (4.6 m2) larger, but something about it—most likely its location—made me apathetic towards it. I told her I needed a couple of hours to think about it.
When I came to her that afternoon (all the while missing work and using my personal time to handle my leak) to tell her that I would take the place, I found out that someone else had rented it out. It was rented out the same day they offered it to me and the there were no more available apartments.
I got to work and openly weeped. My apartment building told me they couldn't fix my leak, nor could they move me elsewhere. My lease was terminated and I had to find a new place to live. After just sitting and crying at my desk, management told me to take the afternoon off as well, presumably to look for new places to live. But I just went home and cried.
I spent the next week looking for a new home during which I encountered an attempted mugging (needless to say, I chose not to rent there. Sidenote: it's probably preferable to not rent from a place that offers discounted rates for low-income tenants.) I saw another place that wanted an additional $20 a month for pet rent to allow my dog to live with me. That wouldn't have been so preposterous had the loft not been entirely constructed of concrete. Concrete walls, floors, ceiling. Besides feeling like a cold prison cell with one kick-ass city view, I asked the leasing agent exactly what damage my dog could do to a loft made entirely out of concrete that warranted an additional $20 a month. I ended my week by screaming at a different leasing agent, who had only worked there for 2 weeks, about false advertising.
Instead of pulling my SUV into my building's parking garage, I left it out along the street and entered my leasing office. None of the managers were there, but I didn't mind. I wasn't there to argue. I plopped down on the overstuffed sofa and explained my situation in detail to the agent on duty.
"I'm at the end of my rope here," I explained, completely defeated. "It's so stressful to know your living situation is undecided. I don't have a home."
"Why don't you just demand one of the larger apartments?" she asked.
I looked up, stunned. "What?"
"The manager messed up by renting out your new apartment. There are no more of your size apartments available for at least three months, but we have openings in the larger one-bedrooms. Don't tell her I told you this, but if you put up a fight, she'll give you the larger apartment. I've seen people get all sorts of free stuff since I worked here. I know she'll do it."
"So show me what you have available to move into right now."
Love, Sarah at 5:05 PM|
~Thursday, September 20, 2007
I could feel the corner of my mouth tighten into a smile, but I did my best to stop it. It's really not that big of a surprise for me. I don't write about it and I don't talk about it, but Scott often speaks of the future. Our future.
"Do you think you could handle being with me for the rest of your life?" he often randomly asks me.
"Maaaaaaaybe," I answer coyly.
The truth is I've never responded in the affirmative. When he demands that I stop kidding around and answer him seriously, I always say it's too early for me to know, but I'm willing to take the time to find out. I've never said, "Yes, it's going to be just you and me."
Ever since my relationship with The Alcoholic, I've refrained from discussing the future with anybody. I've found out it hurts more when you plan for it and it doesn't happen. It seems easier to not expect it and then be delighted when it comes... I can only imagine because it's never come. Thus proving that it's better to not talk about it.
So the question: would I say yes? I don't know. I'd like for him to figure out what he's going to do career-wise and get his bills under control first. I'd like for us to go on vacation together first--I believe how a couple acts on vacation (fighting or not) is a indicator of if things will work out. I'd like to settle Issue I Don't Want To Talk About first.
I'd like to do a lot of things first actually.
~Wednesday, September 19, 2007
After the excitement of the Big Brother 8 season finale and the glass and a half of wine I had, I was dozing in and out of sleep on the couch. The kind of dozing where your eyelids are too heavy to stay open, but you're still remotely conscious.
I was aware that Scott was on the phone. From the sound of the loud southern twang on the other end, I figured it was his mother. I dozed lightly while he wandered out on the balcony to smoke and I awoke briefly when he came inside to open another beer.
After popping the top, Scott came and stood directly over me while listening to his mother. "Mmm hmm," he uttered. I felt him looking at me, and I don't know why I did, but I kept my eyes closed.
"I know, Mom. I'm 31; I'm not getting any younger."
Unintelligible on the other end.
"Well Sarah's pregnant."
Unintelligible again, but this time a little louder. I tried not to choke in surprise.
"I'm just kidding! This time I'm just kidding!" he laughed. I could feel Scott hovering over me and peering directly at my face. "Well don't get ahead of yourself, Mom. If things are still going in December the way they are going now, I'm going to ask her to marry me."
So this is why I kept my eyes closed.
~Tuesday, September 18, 2007
And then during a recent bout of summer storms, the ceiling in my apartment opens up and leaks all over my kitchen. The same leak I've been battling every time it has rained over the last 14 months. My leasing agent says they don't know how to fix it and the only solution is for me to move.
Now where is that spreadsheet?
Love, Sarah at 10:37 AM|
~Thursday, September 13, 2007
Sometimes I like to put on my PJs and watch TV in bed immediately after work. However, with Scott being over nonstop the last month or so, I've hidden my single behavior by changing into jeans and lounging in the living room. But this was a cloudy day and Scott had a spreadsheet and needed to talk; I put on the PJs, pulled my blankets to my chin, and turned on my Grey's Anatomy DVD.
When Scott walked in the door and saw me in bed, he chuckled to himself. Then he sat on top of the covers and pulled me to his chest. I flipped off the DVD and instead turned on the news. Baby steps.
"Where's the spreadsheet?" I asked after a couple minutes of silence.
"I accidentally left it at work."
"Well what did you want to talk about?"
"I don't want to tell you without the spreadsheet," he mumbled.
"Scott, you cannot say 'we need to talk' and not do it! That's just the rules!"
He shifted and looked back to the newscast. "Well, I made a spreadsheet of all my bills, and of all your bills--I didn't know to be exact, so I guessed on a few of them--and I figured out that if we move in together, I'll save about $200 a month, but you'll save over $500 a month."
Drool collected in the corner of my mouth and my eyes glazed over. $500 a month. What I could do with $500 a month. I could finally put together a nice down payment on a new car and then afford a monthly payment on said car. I could buy clothes again. I could start saving real money and afford real vacations... I could live like a normal person and not as an imposter in a nice neighborhood like I have been for the past year and a half...
Then my mind wrapped around what Scott was really saying. Scott wanted to move in my apartment. Scott wanted to move in together.
My pretty, little loft is exactly that: little. It's the most efficient use of 600 square feet (66 m2) I've seen outside of an IKEA showroom, and it's fine for my dog and me, but I don't believe it's big enough for two people, even if they do share a bed. With it's open floor plan and half-walls, there are no doors to slam when someone gets angry. I spent four hours the other weekend cleaning out my closet to try to make room for a shirt or two of his, and I came out with about six inches of space for him.
And that's another thing: it's my closet and my air-conditioning. Scott knows better than to touch either. If he gets hot, he'll tell me and I'll bump the AC; under no terms is he to touch it. Ever. I'm territorial and this is my apartment. It would be difficult for me to realize that if he moved in, he could do what he wanted with the AC.
"When were you thinking about moving in?" I asked. His lease is up in March, and mine is up in April; maybe I wouldn't be so crazy over ACs and hanger space if we found a neutral apartment together.
"That would be up to you."
"What about April?"
Scott frowned. "Er, I wasn't thinking of waiting that long. I can get out of my lease now if I wanted to. I'm serious about you, Sarah. I want to see where this goes."
But it's only been three months! my head shrilled. At five years my senior, moving in together is probably not as big a deal for Scott as it is for me. He's been married and has had at least one live-in girlfriend that I know of. He's done this before; I haven't. I've always done what Scott and I fell into--staying over semi-permanently but still having another place to go to should he/she need it. Not counting the fact my parents would shit actual bricks if I lived in sin. Especially since they haven't heard me even mention a boy's name in two years and had probably written me off for the girl squad. To all of a sudden have a boyfriend and be living with him... it's too much.
"I'm not ready," I stated. Look at me, the girl who wanted everything Scott's given me, turn him down.
"But I haven't even been in my apartment but four or so nights in the past six weeks," he countered. "Even when you were on vacation, I stayed here. We're actually wasting money because I'm here anyway."
"But there is security in knowing you have your own place, even if you don't use it." And I kissed that $500 a month goodbye.
"How did Scott take it?" Amber texted back when I told her the news.
"Fine. He had to know it was too soon," I wrote back. I never even considered he could take it any other way.
~Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I could write about what exactly was on that spreadsheet, but I'm not exactly in a narrative writing mood. I think you understand.
Two funerals in two states in two different regions and I'm back at work. Tired. Last night I was driving home on I-20 when two lanes merged into one, and my speed slowed to zero and I began to cry. I was easily three hours from home and I didn't want to be there anymore. I wanted to be home, but I had to rely on myself and three more hours just seemed too damn long.
The people of my past, my childhood, are passing away. I look around me and see my brothers moving on with their own families to support them through these past couple of months (there have been deaths all summer long). They are creating new memories with their new families and I guess this is what they mean by circle of life. The people who lovingly raised us are dying, leaving them in turn to raise their own children and love their own wives and pay their own mortgages.
I can't help but feel a little stuck.
I don't have a family of my own to support me. I was alone in the car, alone by the coffin, and sleeping on the couch because the couples get the beds. I haven't yet created my own family; I wasn't moving on in the circle.
"You have me," offered Scott. His voice was far away as I sat out on the front porch of our family farm. He commented on hearing birds on my end of the line and it hit me that he and I don't get those sounds in the city. The other day I watched a squirrel through my office window for about ten minutes while trying to figure out why I was so fascinated with the creature. It was because I hadn't even seen one in months. All of a sudden, the city seemed foreign and strange with its orange glow at night, never really getting dark. It's a feature that I previously found comforting.
"I know," I sighed, trying to not hurt his feelings,"It's just not the same. Theirs is more... official with their spouses and houses. I mean, I had to come out here and do this alone."
"One day we'll have our spouses and houses too." He paused, "And by spouses, I mean you and me."
I forced a smile that I prayed he could somehow hear. But the sentiment didn't make me feel any less unstuck and out of place. To me, it sounded like an empty promise: one I've heard too many times before to count on. As much as I'm sure he was willing, I was the only one who could press through the additional three hours home. I was more than halfway, but I wasn't there yet. And not being where I should be--where I wanted to be--is jarring.
~Thursday, September 06, 2007
I've had not one, but two deaths in the family within the last 24 hours. I have to go. Please put my family and me in your thoughts and prayers.
Love, Sarah at 3:21 PM|
~Wednesday, September 05, 2007
It was one of those days where I wanted a single beer after work. I slumped my bag down in the hallway corridor and headed straight to the fridge. The seal on the door popped open with a sticky resistance and I stared blankly at the three beer cans on the shelf.
I bought a case yesterday. 24 beers. I had three and the rest must have gone to the boyfriend and my neighbor.
Sure there was enough for me--I only wanted one--but then there wouldn't be enough for Scott, who drinks a minimum of three at a time. I sighed and slumped on my couch, the same way I had discarded my bag in the hallway moments earlier.
"What's wrong?" Scott asked, placing my head in his lap and stroking my hair.
"It's just..." I began, "I'm tired. I'm tired of not making what I should be making. I'm tired of you not making what you should be making. And I'm tired of things like a $12.99 case of beer stressing me out."
"Well I'll buy you more beer."
"I only had three. I'm not buying the beer anymore. The cases of beer are adding up to keep this house afloat and I'm hardly having any. And it sucks that I have to worry about things like that because we drink the cheap stuff. I don't know where my money is going, but I can't even afford the cheap beer anymore."
I forgot about the conversation until the next afternoon when Scott called me at work. "Are you coming home after work?" he asked.
"Yeah, happy hour with the girls got canceled and I have no other plans."
"Okay. I just need to talk to you about something."
"Er, what do you mean you need to talk to me?"
"I just thought about what you said yesterday and I made a spreadsheet."
"Er, yeah, I'll be home straight after work. We can talk then." I paused, "Is it bad?"
"You said you have to talk to me. Is it bad?"
"No!" he laughed.
I immediately called Amber. "He made a spreadsheet! Nothing good has ever come from a spreadsheet!" I whined.
"Did he say anything about what it was about?" she asked.
"Well text me as soon as you know. I'm dying to know too!" she laughed.
I stared at my clock. It was 12:47 pm. How dare he call me five hours before work is over to tell me we need to talk. Clearly no work will be done.