Thursday, July 26, 2012

My Shit-hole Apartment (Part 4)

So, aside from Roommate Jessica being rather passive-aggressive most of our junior year, I still loved living in the Awesome Apartment. Unfortunately, things were about to change again.

Living Away From Home Year 4
Death and Diamonds
(The Awesome Apartment Becomes the Awkward Apartment)

I've mentioned before that I was a somewhat-sheltered child. Other than touring our local justice center on a school field trip in high school, I had very little experience with crime/law growing up. I had been the driver in one car accident as a teen, and I was not at fault. I still had to go to traffic court, but the judge threw it out because the ticket I was written was dumb and the state trooper didn't even show up to court to argue with me. That was my big brush with the law. The most crime I ever witnessed as a youth was some high schoolers smoking a little pot in the parking lot or me and my friend Stef some punk kids in the neighborhood setting off illegal fireworks in the middle of the night. I may have known of some kids in school who shoplifted once or something, but I was blissfully detached from scandals and other wrong-doings. It was something that "happened to everybody else" and I was naive enough to believe that justice still prevailed all the time. Roommate Jessica was probably of similar mindset, because we were both thrown for a loop by what happened the summer before our senior year of college.

Hint: it did not go like this.
Sadly, our sweet old man landlord died after a long illness right around the end of our junior year. One evening someone came by our apartment to inform us of our landlord's passing, and to give us some letters and legal papers explaining the situation. We were both a little sad; we didn't know our landlord that personally (in fact I can't remember his name) but he seemed nice and kept a nice building, so we couldn't complain. Other than being a little sad, we were very confused and concerned. We had no idea what this meant. Would we have to move? We had basically no useful knowledge on renter's rights/laws, as I said, we were young and naive. 

The late landlord's daughter inherited his estate, including the building in which we lived. She lived a few hours' drive away, so I never met her in person, we only spoke a few times on the phone. On one of those occasions, she informed us that she would honor the rest of our lease (as she was legally required to do) before selling the building, and then she dropped a bomb on us: the superintendent had run off with everyone's rent deposit money and no one knew where he was, THUS she would not be paying us our deposits back (which is, in fact, illegal for her to do.)  Seeing as how Roommate Jessica and I were measly broke-ass college kids and our school did not even have a pre-law major, yet alone student legal services, we had no working knowledge of our rights or how renter's laws worked. My guess is this was exactly what Late Landlord's Daughter was banking on.  So, in short, we were screwed unless we wanted to take it to small claims court -something neither of us could afford nor wanted to do.

Jessica was planning to go on another mission trip over the summer and would be in China for most of that time, so that left me to sort of help take care of things at the apartment, and see that the transfer of power went well. Needless to say, that summer kind of sucked. Roommate Jessica was in China, but we were able to communicate via e-mail about what needed to happen with our living situation, etc. I went to bartending college for a few weeks to "learn a trade" since clearly my Theatre Arts major wasn't gaining me any employment brownie points. At some point before Roommate Jessica left the country, she sent me a nasty e-mail complaining about a lot of things (like the landlord dying/our money being stolen) and then started accusing me of ridiculous things like cheating on my boyfriend-at-the-time and a lot of other crazy nonsense. First off, I had not cheated on my boyfriend-at-the-time, especially not in that apartment.  Secondly, if I had cheated on a boyfriend in that apartment, it would have been NONE of her business. Third, the e-mail all but accused me of being the reason the landlord kicked the bucket and the super stole our money, which is just plain ludicrous.  At the end of the e-mail she threatened to move out.  I was so angry after receiving this e-mail that I started writing a bunch of nasty shit to reply to her.  But I stopped myself.  I decided to not stoop to the level she was clearly perched smugly on and decided to not write an angry e-mail ripping her a new one (wise words, kids-learn from me!) I logged out and went to play my GameCube.

Everything seems better after angry gaming.
A few days later, once I had drafted an intelligent, civil-yet-direct e-mail reply, Roommate Jessica had already left for her trip and I would not hear from her for weeks. I essentially told her that, yes, it super-sucked that our landlord died and his daughter is being a total douche-canoe and that our money was stolen, but those things were currently out of our control. As for the rest of the ludicrous accusations, I told her I would not dignify them with a response but that if she wanted to move out, that was her choice and I would not try to talk her out of it if she had made up her mind to leave. I did remind her that her name was still on the lease and that she would have to find a replacement roommate to take over her share.  Who has two thumbs and can be classy? This gurl.
Dude, I totally reek of class.
Photo courtesy of Jen Gelber
When Roommate Jessica returned and finally responded to my e-mail, she apologized.  She was just really angry about getting ripped off and took it out on me. (This is why we don't type angry, kids.) She didn't really want to move out and kind of just wanted to forget the whole thing. So, who has two thumbs and called Roommate Jessica's bluff? This gurl again. (Don't try to bullshit a bullshitter, kids.) I decided to try to let it all go (see how well that's been working so far...almost a decade later...) and just act like the e-mail exchange never happened between us. Roommate Jessica even brought me some fun peace-offering souvenirs from China. Things started to go back to normal until one fall afternoon I was at the grocery store and ran into a mutual friend of mine and Roommate Jessica's. We chit-chatted for a minute and then she said,
"Isn't so great that Jessica and "Roommate-Jessica's-boyfriend-with-a-girl-name-whom-I-really-don't-like" are engaged!?!?!?" 
"Um, they're what-now?"
"Yeah, they're getting married next summer." (At this point Mutual Friend is blissfully unaware how awkward this conversation is quickly becoming.)
"Oh. Well...I...didn't...know...that....Neat."
"Yeah! It's so exciting!" (It is slowly dawning on her that she just spilled the beans, and I am uncomfortable and possibly a little angry.)


I finished my shopping and went home pissed-off, to say the least. But, while putting away groceries, I decided to give Roommate Jessica and Girly-Named-Boyfriend Fiance the benefit of the doubt. I concluded that Roommate Jessica would tell me when she had a minute.  We really hadn't spent a lot of time in the apartment together with our crazy different school/work schedules. Maybe I just wasn't the first person to get to know the good news, maybe I'm further down that list of important people to tell when a big life even happens.  Cool.  I can live with that. I told myself to not get all butthurt until I was sure there was a reason to. Days passed. Then weeks. Roommate Jessica said nothing. She didn't even hint at it. The only clue I had that Mutual Friend wasn't just somehow confused and got the wrong "Jessica" (there are a million of us) was the brand new shiny diamond that suddenly appeared on Roommate Jessica's left hand.
Commence butthurt and awkward apartment atmosphere.

 Up until three-quarters of the way through our senior year, spending time in the apartment with Roommate Jessica felt uncomfortable, distant, and like I was suffocating in a forced air of friendliness. I didn't trust having her as a confidant, and Girly-Name-Fiance was over ALL THE TIME. It sucked. Finally, one afternoon Roommate Jessica came into my room and surprised the shit out of me by asking me to be one of her bridesmaids.

 She explained that she'd been engaged for a few months to Girly-Name-Fiance, but didn't tell anyone yet because they didn't want it somehow getting back to their parents before they were ready to tell them. She told me she was convinced I knew right away because of the ring but since I never said anything, she didn't say anything either. I fessed up that Mutual Friend had told me at the grocery store. Roommate Jessica sighed and looked embarrassed. Apparently she had run into Mutual Friend the day before I had, and Mutual Friend had seen the ring and guessed. Roommate Jessica told her not to tell anyone, but obviously Mutual Friend was kind of gossipy, and didn't know how to keep secrets all that well. Roommate Jessica is a terrible liar, so I knew she was telling the truth about that, because if Mutual Friend had said, "Oh my God are you guys getting married?!?!?!" Roommate Jessica would not have been able to lie her way out of that conversation to save her life. The whole thing seemed like a bad comedy of errors one might find in an episode of Three's Company, except no sexual innuendo and fewer pratfalls.

The 70's were rough, kids.
MPTV images
So, with things smoothed over with Roommate Jessica, the big questions started to loom over my head about the "F" word: my FUTURE. I had a boyfriend but we both had different plans for our respective future selves.  I had held several part-time jobs throughout college, but I had little savings, and what money I did have, I ended up spending on being a bridesmaid (did you know how expensive it is to be in a wedding?! I sure didn't.) So, with Roommate Jessica moving out of the Awesome-Sometimes-Awkward Apartment to get married and start her adult life, and me with no real plan other than to "someday" move to NY to dive into the entertainment industry, I had to make the terrifying decision at the tender age of 22, to move home with my parents.


(To be continued...) 


  1. haha i really like this. i have no apartment woes, unfortunately, i've never been able to snag me a nice place like that. i've been in and out of dorms. maybe i'll write a story one day on that wackiness.

  2. This is really interesting! I don't see why Jessica thought telling her roommate would get the news back to her parents, but wearing an engagement ring around wouldn't.

    I can't wait to read the rest!

  3. Another great entry from you, Jess. I am looking forward to the next installment. BTW, I had to comment as Anonymous, but it's me--Aunt Pam!


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