Tuesday, August 17 2021

a strange entry reflecting about our house

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Tuesday. It feels good to be here awake and at the computer this morning. The gentle sunlight peeking through the dining room windows feels like a real life metaphor for light at the end of the tunnel. My on-call shift ends tomorrow afternoon, and this warm sunshine feels like the promise of delicious afternoon beer, a pager-less walk around the block with Ziggy, and in all likelihood a solid after-work nap. But before we get to all that, we have a regular Tuesday to slog through so we might as well get started.

Sip. There's a lot of action on our street these days. It's moving season for the rental house beside us - the one we share a driveway with. Our living room lately has felt like a front row seat to an orchestra of moving day chaos. I've never met the guy who owns that rental house, but every one of his tenets has used the term slumlord without hesitation.

What's living next to a slumlord's house like? There's plenty to complain about, but at the very least the house is like an annually rotating gallery of interesting locals - the newest incumbents being Morgan and Greg. Outwardly, Morgan and Gregg are tough, tattooed, cigarette smoking rocker types, but they are also down to earth and friendly. Even while unloading a trailer in the hot midday sun, they were happy to chat with me in the driveway. Rodney, clad in full Spider-Man costume for his first impressions with the new neighbors, immediately clicked with Sachmo, their teddy bear of a Rottweiler.

I learned that Morgan was returning to our neighborhood a second time. She lived in the same house for a short time just before Marissa and I moved in, and she had a close relationship with the former owners of our house.

"I remember when Leila first saw a rat in her backyard, and she came running over freaking out because it was like all fat and pregnant," said Morgan.

Oops went my inner monologue. That was a new piece of information for me and Marissa. I don't think we officially learned that the former owners knew about the rat infestation when they sold their house to us. But in hindsight, the infestation was so bad it must have been hard to ignore.

Moving in to this house was a tough time for us. Even before we discovered the rats, our block used to be a much scarier place. Marissa didn't feel safe. I was feeling doubts about our decision. I remember after only a week of living in this house, I went for a long walk around the nature path at work with my close friend Jon. I broached the subject of selling the house we had just bought. With all his tact and wisdom, Jon talked me down from my panic. "You made your bed, Alex. Now you have to lie in it," he said.

Truthfully, if we had known about the rats, we probably wouldn't have moved in here. At the time, Marissa and I were dealing with bedbugs, and the last thing we would have wanted was yet another kind of infestation - talk about out of the fryer, into the frying pan, right?

But I have no hard feelings. You don't owe anything to the new people moving into your house. I'm happy with how the story unfolded. Without this house, I wouldn't have risen to local fame as The Rat King of the East Side. I wouldn't have formed a special bond with my brooding neighbor Everett driving them out with boots and shovels. I would never have felt the sense of accomplishment from beating the rats at their own game and paving their mighty stronghold over with decorative landscaping rocks. The Rat King forgives.

This turned into a bit of a strange entry, hasn't it? Normally I'm wrapping up things by now and heading upstairs, but I've barely scratched a wordcount of 500. I've stumbled into a place of processing and now I'm struggling to get the words out, so this may have to be kind of a short one today.

As we're getting closer to our own moving date, you can expect more entries like this. Finally going public with the announcement was only the beginning. Bringing that decision we made in secret out of the shadows has felt liberating, as if now I can finally start process what it has felt like living here.

That's probably fine for today. Thanks for stopping by, everyone. Hope you have a good Tuesday.