I first met Sum in a Spanish class at university, almost exactly eight years ago. Never at that point did I suspect we’d end up sharing a house (and a loopy landlady, and chickens), and both have such awesome partners, and see each other almost every day.
Living here together has been one of the most important contributions to my mental health over the past couple years: I’ve often said that I’d go off the deep-end if it weren’t for the stability of my home.
With that in mind, please understand how I panicked two weeks ago, when checking my email during a fit of anxiety-induced insomnia on a Sunday night. I hadn’t talked with Sum or Captain Pestou all weekend, though they’d been in and out of the house a lot. My heart skipped a beat as I read the message from Sum: The reason for their hectic weekend was that they’d been exploring the house across the street. With a realtor. With the intention of BUYING IT.
Under normal circumstances, when I haven’t just spent a couple hours lying in bed and staring at the ceiling while contemplating all the things I could be doing and am doing and aren’t doing with my life, I swear that I am an empathetic and caring person who is happy for friends with good things in their futures. I swear. At that moment, though, I was filled with panic and horror.
If they moved out, how could Oats and I stand living in such close quarters with anybody else?
Could Oats and I afford to take over their apartment, and find a friend to take our downstairs suite? Where we would find the money?
And what am I doing with my life?
See, it wasn’t really about Sum and Captain Pestou at all.
Eventually, I got a couple hours of sleep, and was functional enough the next day to go to work and bemoan the world. Oats and I agreed that we’d somehow afford the upstairs apartment when Sum and Captain Pestou moved out, and I privately committed to finding a high-paying job by any means neccessary. The Captain Pestou came downstairs to chat with us, and in the midst of our conversation about his potential new house, I suddenly heard the words “basement suite”. Huh?
A three-bedroom basement suite, to be exact.
Sum had neglected to mention this in her email the night before.
We danced around the issue, neither of us wanting to impose such a monumentous request in case it wasn’t what the others had in mind.
Meanwhile, I was telepathically screaming: “TAKE ME WITH YOU!!!”
And they are, taking all of us: Me and Oats and Mo and Ballou, and the four chickens that we share, and the three boats that fill our driveway, and the cat that used to be mine but now is theirs, and the new kitten, and the whole crazy two-household family that we’ve built here over the past couple years. We’re packing it all up in the next couple weeks and hauling everything across the street, to begin again.
One of my parents asked if it would be weird, to have my closest friends become my landlords. Well, I replied, I suppose it might… But we already know how to co-operate after living together for so long, and aside from that, our current landlady is more than a little loopy and unreliable. Given the choice, I prefer to trust my friends with my housing security, because they are more invested in my mental health and the shared social contract of our friendship.
Besides which, whereas our current landlady doesn’t see much point in maintaining let alone upgrading our housing, Sum and Captain Pestou want their new rental suite to be the sort of place where they or members of their extended families could happily live if needed.
Now begins the insanity: We get the new house on October 25th, and have to be out of the old place by November 1st… But instead of spending that whole week moving, we’ll be gutting the kitchen in the basement suite which is so crappy it’s almost useless. A door is being moved, a new window put in, and somehow an entire brand-new Ike@ kitchen is being installed. We’re also planning on pulling up the ugly/dirty navy blue wall-to-wall carpet (Why?!!! Why would anyone lay that in a basement?!!!), and painting a few walls.
It’s intimidating, and it’s exciting, and since I’m pleased to be contributing to my friends’ mortgage payments without having to take on such a legal contract myself, I feel absolutely giddy and keep thinking how lucky I am that my friends bought me a house. That’s what it feels like, as though this is a great gift. And I know that in reality it’s a win-win for everyone, and that the house actually will belong to Sum and Captain Pestou, I still feel honoured to be included in this new project.
Also, I get a new kitchen, and my own room with its own door.