Monday, February 19, 2007

Time to face the strange, c-c-changes

While I've been involuntarily separated from the internet, there has been a big change in my life. No, I'm neither single nor pregnant.

Legally, since December 2005 I've been living on my own. Technically it was a lot longer than that, as my old housemate was pretty much living with her boyfriend, coming on about once every three months to get her mail and pat her cats. As you can imagine, that left me in a simmering state of resentment, lumbered with the responsibility of dealing with her 2 cats, paying all the bills, dealing with the real estate agent, and just generally shouldering all of the household responsibility. I don't mind dealing with the responsibility when I'm the only one, but when it is supposed to be shared, I get very resenty. The fact that I'm also a control freak is irrelevant. Is it possible to be a control freak and resent having control at the same time?

After she moved out, I did all the right things. I paid to get the carpets cleaned (and didn't they come up well) and advertised in the Melbourne broadsheet for a housemate. As a bonus, they also placed the ad online. I didn't realise that there were so many interesting people looking for somewhere to live. I gave no one my address until I had got their contact details (phone with caller ID very good), phone screened them, and made sure that they knew I wanted contactable referees. I also made sure that I had someone here every time someone was due. I also hid a whole lot of valuables. Why advertise what is here?

I got an older demographic responding to my ad. (God, I sound like a marketing professional - sorry) The first 5 people who called were all over 45 - not quite what I expected. The first couple screened out completely - one of them wanted a separate room to store his motorcycle in and do the maintenance in. Pass - the house has cream carpet. One of them had recently separated, and wanted someone and somewhere to help him look after his young children when he had access visits. No thanks. I remember when I was a kid, just how much I resented my Dad's housemate after he and Mum separated.

Then I actually made times for some people to come and see the house. The first guy was quite nice on the phone, said he was a printer and liked cats. Very important with king George in the house. He showed up, and before he even got to the front door, I could smell him. Dry retching come on down. He owned a flat in a very nice beach suburb (which I don't live in!), but had decided that he had filled it up with all of his possessions, so he bought 2 kittens and went to live in a motel. To top it all off he didn't actually work. His hobby was finding copyrighted images online, and then printing them onto t-shirts. He gave me his references, and then told me that they didn't know him under his current name, and I would need to use another name. He had changed his name a couple of weeks earlier after a dream told him that the moon would like his new name better. Once we got rid of him (thank goodness for 6 foot plus brothers with muscles for days), he called 5 times in the next 2 hours to see if I was interested in him moving in. Umm, no.

The next person to come and visit was a nurse who was studying for her Masters. Nice, gainfully employed, studying hard so won't be having massive partiers. Yes, I think I'm getting old. She came in, we hit it off quite well, and chatted for a while. She was really close to being offered the room when she told me that she had moved house 8 times in the last 6 months. Why did she move house so often? Apparently she didn't like it when things were done anyway but hers, so she moved out. 2 control freaks in one house - pass. The next guy had no contact details, no job, no income and didn't know when he would be around for me to contact. The next guy had a 60 cigarette a day habit and didn't believe in smoking outside. No thanks, I like breathing. Then I had a police officer who objected to the locks and the windows. OK. There was another girl who asked if I minded if she practiced her bagpipes and had her bagpipe band over on Sunday mornings to practice. I didn't mind the bagpipes, I minded the Sunday morning. Apparently that was the only time that suited them all. No thanks.

So I resigned myself to having no one to live with for a while. It meant that I was paying a whole lot more rent than I really wanted to, but I didn't have to move, and I had room to live, unlike if I was in a flat. I really didn't want to live in a flat. I like having trees and garden, and not having to share my laundry. I'm also not that keen on hearing every detail of other people's lives. Call me weird.

Just before Christmas my brother (not the engaged one) told me that he was having problems with his housemate, and asked if I would mind if he stored his stuff at my house for a while. We talked about it a bit more, and ended with me offering him one of the spare rooms in the house. Win for me - someone else to share the bills, someone I trust to live with, a bit of extra security. Plus for him - cheaper rent, sharing a house who knows and trusts him, living in a nicer, safer area. Benefits for both of us - someone to share the cooking and cleaning, only one of us has to drive for family functions, and getting to spend time together and get to know each other as adults.

So far I'm really enjoying it. He is cooking porterhouse steak for dinner as I write this, and he gets really offended if I take the bins out. It is so nice not to have to do it for a while. He and my boy are getting to know each other better, although at times they do gang up on me. We do have to be careful not to gang up on other people though. One of my oldest friends was stunned when I told her a couple of weeks ago at book club. All she could think of was our teenage years when we would physically and verbally fight as if we wanted to eliminate each other from the planet.

I'm getting to know my brother as a friend, and I think we are building a closeness that we haven't had since we were toddlers. I think I'll treasure this time for ever.


jellyhead said...

It's really good to hear you two are close enough to be able to share a place.

Hope the steak was yummy!

velvet girl said...

That sounds like a great win-win situation, especially when compared to all the potential flatmates... yikes!

Mmmm, I can practically smell that steak from here. ;)