The Room at the Top of the Stairs to the Left
Living in a house filled with men is a lot different than living in a dorm or a house off campus.
Of course, I’d never done either of those things until now.
I’ve been married to three men at different times in my life – not a fact I’m particularly proud of, but it is what it is. I like to think the positive spin on it is that I was placed in their life for a reason, and that in fact, we helped each other get to the next level of understanding of who we are and for what we were created. Plus, I was gifted with wonderful children. I figured I’m the one who made out best in the deal.
This is different, and not like anything I’ve ever encountered.
Starting over yet again and my permanent home on the lake not available to me for several months, I did the next best thing. I called my friend who happened to rent rooms to college students. A boarding house of sorts, it’s a comfortable, safe and clean abode to which I could call my own for just a while.
The conversation went something like this:
“Hey. I need to come home. Do you have an extra room for me?”
That’s the beauty of having good friends, male or female. You don’t have to say much; don’t have to dissect the content or the meaning of the words behind the conversation. There is a sort of telepathy occurring that is akin to being twins: you just know.
The room at the top of the stairs to the left would become my new home, and house all that I could stuff into a suitcase.
When I got there, I didn’t come out for a month.
It was during that time of self-reflection and self-pity that I realized I wasn’t living there alone. Two young men studying finance at the local university were also sharing the kitchen, the bathroom and the refrigerator with me (along with my friend who also lived there.) One was from Japan, another from Sweden and the owner a dyed in the wool New Englander. I will let you figure out which one’s English was the hardest to understand.
Obviously having been briefed, they all gave me a wide berth, kept their distance and only spoke to me when spoken to, which was usually a grunt in the morning, a head nod in the afternoon and a hey there in the evening. We shared the coffee pot, the dishes and the shower. I was not used to having getting dressed to go down to the kitchen to fry bacon, nor did I realize that they felt completely comfortable standing at the sink in their tighty whities.
It was all so surreal, but I was grateful. I was alone, but not lonely.
Eventually, the fog began to clear and I was able to push myself out of my funk. I had gotten a job, and then another, so was forced to interact and make sure I ate something. I also realized this was comedy gold, that some of the situations were genuinely funny and poignant, all at the same time. Misunderstandings due to language barrier and dialect nothwithstanding, there were gentle nudges from all of them to make me move, to get back to the living, to carry on.
Demonstrations of kindness and caring took the form of little notes scribbled from someone I never met, placed next to dishes of rice and beans on the counter top with a short message. “Here miss, please eat something” or a glass of white wine (remembering I couldn’t tolerate red) consistently sat on the dining room table after dinner just waiting for me, with no note needed.
There were also times where I went to the basement to wash my clothes, only to find someone else’s load in the washer, not yet been transferred to the dryer. What does one do in this situation? I figured I would wait until the evening and do it then.
After waiting three days, I finally transferred them to the dryer.
My friend, the landlord, stood at the top of the stairs and laughed while he watched me carry armfuls of bluejeans and boxer shorts.
“Ah, yaeh” he said. “I’ve been waiting to see what you’d do.”
“These are yours?” I asked incredulous. “Why did you leave them there so long? They stink!”
“No matter” he said gently. “I wanted to make sure you were out of the mother mode.”
I knew exactly what he meant. Normally, in the old days, I would have just done them for whomever they belonged. I’ve spent my whole life taking care of others, and he wanted to make sure that now, all I would worry about was me.
I have neglected a lot these last few months; my writing, my comedy and myself.
The room at the top of the stairs and to the left has become my beacon of hope, a symbol of survival and the starting point of a new adventure.
Writing has always been my salvation, no matter how syrupy or sickeningly sweet some of my stories have been. At the time they were written, they were my reality.
I know now to take off the rose colored glasses and really look at the world around me – without bitterness and without cynicism, but life as it really is.
As a grown-up. I’m ready.
© 2012 Eileen Loveman - 6/10/12