My Liberated Ex-Flatmate
When you think things are about to get better, then they get worse. I knew that things were not going to be easy, but being homeless was an option, I had not even considered. Sure, I have almost been homeless and had to live with other people. Back then, I was a student and I at least knew people. Here I was in a country where most of the people I knew were acquaintances, and at the mercy of other people’s kindness. I had some official stuff to do in Finland. Everything worked out and I was able to leave on time. The same night I was packing to leave, I get a phone call in the morning on my way to the airport. The landlady aka flatmate at the shared apartment where I was staying at did not want me to come back. I had already checked-in, thus I had no clue where I was going to go.
Now, let me tell you about this landlady, Rose. Rose, sigh, was constantly moody and usually made decisions on a whim. If her choices were anything to go by. Hardly ever left the house, spent most of her days watching movies. Was constantly home due to an invisible disability. I didn’t understand exactly what, she was suffering from but it was either a loose muscle or tendon, that caused her great pain.
Her expectations were really high. Taking a dog from a shelter, to returning it, because it was not the perfect dog. From what I observed, the dog did her good. She went out on walks more with the dog. Then after a few months decided she couldn’t take care of it as it was not behaving the way she wanted. The poor dog had already been returned before. I wonder if it was eventually put down.
The next thing I know, the same weekend after the dog was returned. Someone showed up, a short, boisterous man. Who would slam doors, left right and centre. Sometimes go to the bathroom with the door open. I remember the first night, I had to go to the bathroom and there was pee on the floor. As I had already had been scolded on how I opened doors, I did not want to bring the matter up. I thought the man was a phase. He came often and they would stay up late at night with loud music. This was very not only frustrating for me , I could hardly sleep. The noise and distractions prevented my creative juices from flowing as the environment was highly toxic. Since they stayed up late and tried to be romantic by cooking up a storm in the kitchen, it meant that the kitchen had a mountain of dishes in the morning. Did I mention that Rose smoked? It was so thick that it would seep through my door. I naively assumed that balcony's were for that purpose, fresh air became a privi. I do not know how people can comfortably live in cigarette smoke for 365 days. Your clothes, hair and everything has this pungent smell. I gritted my teeth and did not complain. Spending most of my time, in my room, getting my creative juices to work, with no luck. Go figure, with such an environment it was not easy. On a random walk, I stumbled upon my future office--the library. I was so grateful to find the library. I could spend time there and write for hours. The only downside is the library had partial opening hours. Those lunch breaks were ridiculously long, but ideal--2 hours! The library became my saving grace, my little space, it was blissful being away from all the melodrama and smoke .
Cooking is my source of joy and it feeds my creative juices. When you’re surrounded by someone who complains a lot. Asks you what you are cooking—as it is exotic to them. The act of cooking became tedious and an ordeal. In the long run, I lost my joy.
Not only did I feel so trapped in that environment—the moodiness was getting on my nerves. Almost getting scolded for washing a plate—yes a plate after hours. Apparently there was a rule that no dish washing after 9 pm. As the days went by, yes we would be cordial but she was unpredictable and a kill-joy . You could tell when I was excited about something, she was not into it. When she finally bought a partition to separate herself from people. I was relieved. I did not have to pass by the living room and feel obligated to greet her as she would be probably napping or engrossed in a movie.
There were some moments of kindness on her part, she was not all bad. As she suffered from atopic skin in the past, she knew the tricks of the trade on how to get certain medicines from the local chemist. She was very helpful, on some days –the good ones.
I would often fantasize about leaving the place and was hoping to find a place as soon as possible. My patience was greatly tested numerous of times. The last straw was when her boisterous short man friend came over and I again had to listen to loud music at 4 am in the morning. On top of that I was kept awake by conjugal noises, the disability must've been cured.It was quite loud, passionate. This was the beginning of a revolving door. Some days it would be the loud and boisterous one. Then it would be one of the men from her past, who suddenly showed up. What I found really odd, was when her ex-husband started being a regular feature, but only in the afternoon. I was confused. Hadn’t she said she wanted to move forward in her life? The only advantage of her having her male company was the passive aggressive notes stopped. At first, I thought it was the guilt of having to put us through all that unneighbourly behaviour.
In the morning—her version was waking up at noon or sometimes late afternoon. The latter exceptionally happened when she had guests. I have been depressed before, I remember that I didn’t want to go outside and sometimes did not want to see anyone. I was also going through an illness, but when I decided I would not let it take control of me or my life. That’s when the healing process started.
People heal differently and there’s no right or wrong way. The only way to truly heal is to love yourself, even those parts that you do not like.
I am not a fan of living with people, but when the courtesy is extended to me, I try to be myth—as quiet as possible. I guess that also reflects upon how I live my life—as quiet as possible. No drama! Sure in the past drama used to follow me-- then I realized it was because I got myself involved in other people’s problems. I have always been a solution finder. When I got a little wiser I realised, people were starting to take my kindness for weakness. I would get calls at odd hours or last minute for help. My needs and the things that I had to do for myself were not important. If I were in a similar predicament and called upon those very people to help, crickets. That’s when I decided that it was time for me to watch my own back. Now I digress…
It is one thing to try and throw someone out of your living space, but it is another when you take their money and try to kick them out in the wee hours of the morning. Also insisting that you do not care what happens or give them time to find something.
Thank goodness for the Airbnb site that gave me time to regroup and think of my next move. When I finally thought I had found something I got a message that the apartment had been already rented out.
So I found myself at a camping site. Paul—an acquaintance lent us a tent. I was pleased about it till I realized I knew next to nothing about pitching a tent. Glamping was all I knew and was accustomed to. The instructions weren’t clear to me. I had my suitcase, the sun was scorching. I was exhausted, hungry. I decided to sit on the grass. I could not hold back my tears, so I sat on the grass. Bewildered, I wondered how long I would have to stay there and would I have to sleep under a starry night on my suitcase. . A Slovenian couple saw my distress and came to help. I am forever grateful to them and their kindness. I hope someday I can repay their kindness. With all the stress, anger, frustration and disappointment. A hot mess...
That’s how I ended up homeless in a tent with a suitcase, with no idea where to go next. No idea on how long I could afford it and highly unprepared.