The decision was a marriage between unpreparedness and impulse. Jimi played the reasonable older brother and voiced his concerns but gave in without much fight. I think he gave in knowing it was likely to blow up in our faces and then he would be able to smile and we would know he was thinking, “I told you so.” The late Stephen Covey would be disappointed with us, Jimi. This is a prime example of two people with win/lose attitudes combining to create a lose/lose result.
After filling out our paperwork and handing it back in, Natalie told us we would be able to move-in in August of that summer. None of us planned to move in the first week because Homeschool’s last semester didn’t start until the end of that month, Jimi’s job transfer hadn’t officially been approved, and my new job wasn’t slated to start until late August.
Even though I didn’t need to move in right away, I felt a more urgent need to get out of my parents’ house than my roommates. That summer I had told my parents I wasn’t going back to SUNY Albany in the Fall and I hadn’t anticipated the existential crisis that followed, culminating with one of the most regretful nights of my life. (I’ll maybe write that story up another time.) To cope, I spent a lot of time reading biographies and autobiographies like Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and RZA’s The Tao of Wu, but I should probably get back to the story…
I was pretty amped to get into the new place and be away from home. Natalie was lolly-gagging, giving us the run around, and just being the annoying, terrible person we would learn to hate. We’d call and say, “Hey Natalie, we’re just checking up to see when we’ll be able to move in. How’s it coming?”
And she’d respond with a statement leading us straight into a brick wall: “Oh, I am cleaning. Khristoff has finally moved out upstairs, but leaves me all his stuff. He is such a pig.”
Yes but when the fuck are we going to be able to move into the apartment we already started paying rent for? “Okay, Natalie, we’ll check back soon.”
Our patience soon waned and we started moving in without telling Natalie. She was surprised to see us and our stuff moved in, but we were more surprised to see how the apartment looked exactly the same as it did when we toured, mildew-covered walls and all.
I’d called my mom to help with the move and she was a big help with cleaning too. In the midst of our cleaning, we found out one of the reasons the apartment was so dark inside—aside from all the side windows being overcast by the neighboring building.
My brother and I were scrubbing the walls when we noticed a brownish liquid streaming towards the floor like wet paint. In each room, this liquid would inevitably streak to the floor if we weren’t quick with the sponge. Connecting the brown sludge to the previous tenant we learned Curry Monster loves his hookah almost as much as he loves his curry. We also learned tobacco stains can darken wall paint considerably and, when concentrated in a bucket after a good wall scrubbing, closely resembles dip spit. Keep that in mind, interior designers, when trying to get a nice dungeon-like brown film on your walls.
Homeschool’s mom also came down to help us move and clean. Being the friendly lady she is, she had active conversations with Natalie while we avoided her. During this interaction she learned how Natalie’s face became so mangled:
“Oh thank the lord I am alive every day. It is a miracle, you know. My whole house burned down and my husband died, but I survive and am only left with my scars. Terrible accident. So thankful to god.”
“Oh my gosh, Natalie, that is incredible. You are so strong,” Homeschool’s mom said.
“No, the lord makes me strong, but thank-you. And now my daughter is away to college, she does so well. I am so lucky, and you too! Your son, so handsome. What does he study?”
“He studies biology. I’m not sure what he plans to do though. I don’t know if he knows either.”
“Amazing! He is going to be a doctor. Doctor Handsome.”
And that is when Homeschool became “Dr. Handsome” to Jimi and me.
Though there were some roadblocks to moving in, things finally seemed to settle. I’d heard from an old Albany friend he was in Binghamton now, and we made plans to hang out. I’d also seen an old friend from high school and she said she’d found a job in Binghamton. Things weren’t turning out as bad as Jimi anticipated…