Monday, June 30, 2008

How happy are we now?

A few weeks ago my non-paying tenant finally moved out. He's living in a homeless shelter, is working with social services and the Veterans' administration, and is slowly getting his life in order again. His truck is still in my driveway because it is not yet registered.

His life had taken quite a fall before he left, before he finally got the message that he had to leave. He was no longer in touch with his family (they sent him emails and he did not answer, they presumably tried to call but nobody answered or returned calls). He had no money. He no longer had his drivers license and his car and truck were both out of registration and there was a ticket for out-of-date registration on one. All of his worldly possessions were in his bedroom or in my storage building, because he also lost the storage building he was renting. Clearly he was in the kind of depression that is difficult to get out of for most of us. For him it was near-impossible because of a condition that appears to be something like Asperger's Syndrome. No initiative, no sense of how to do ordinary things, a mind that takes things very literally and that does not read others well.

It was because of all of these things that I let him stay as long as I did. It was also because of these things that I knew I had to get him out, for his sake as well as mine. The trick that finally did it was a note I scribbled hastily when I was on my way out the door on another trip. Whatever I said in that note finally got through to him. I tried to be kind but also tried to get through to him that his staying on was a stress for me as well as for him.

So now things are looking up. P comes over to change clothes in his truck every day or so and we have started weekly dinners. He comes over for dinner Saturday night. I use him as a guinea pig to sample recipes I am trying out and he has an obligation, a "date" every week, which I think is good for someone without much in the way of friends. He lets me know his progress, shares what he has discovered in his homeless state (it isn't as bad as he imagined, the shelter or the people in it) and I get the sense he's proud of his accomplishments so far.

I am relieved. More, I have my house back and I am loving it in the way a newlywed might love a first house, except it is all mine, all mine. I have converted P's room to a guest bedroom, complete with bookshelves, DVDs and a DVD player (portable), a luggage rack, and a guest book. I keep fiddling with it to make it more pleasant and complete. The bathroom across the hall is always clean and ready for guests (and for me when I need it) and I even took a bath in there recently.

I have hired a new housecleaner, a "green" cleaner, whom I like very much. She is a vegan and we can talk about a lot of interests in common while she shines away. She is detail-oriented, cleans things the last one did not, and I think this is a good match. She comes only once a month and I manage in between. Having her scheduled keeps me from panicking about the state of my house, and having P over once a week also helps me keep things tidy.

I played music yesterday afternoon, as loud as I wanted, and let it flow through the house. First I played the piano myself, then I played favorite CDs.

I am very fortunate. I have a nice small house with two bedrooms and an office and two bathrooms and a nice kitchen and dining room, all to myself. When my children visit they can have a private room to themselves. I am cooking more because nobody is hanging around asking about this or that and I can think. I watch whatever television I like, during the day sometimes.

There is no doubt I have made a major happiness leap.

1 comment:

Elaine Vigneault said...

You know I have always wanted P to stay. I felt bad for him, but more than that I worried about you living alone. But after my visit, I could see that him living there the way he was wasn't helping either of you. His depression was just too deep. I think this experience really will help him get back on his feet. At the very least, he's spending more time outdoors, walking, and talking to people. Those things are good to get someone out of depression. And your city's public services are really pretty good, too. I think they can help him. Already they tapped into Veteran's benefits he never knew he was eligible for. I think your weekly dinners for him are a good idea, as well. They're good for both of you - give you something to look forward to and to prepare for. Overall, I think making him leave was a good thing. You did, afterall, give him over six months of rent-free living and before that the rent was always cheap. And you always provided food for him. You did the right thing and I think it's the best thing for both of you. You are obviously much more comfortable now, living alone. And it's certainly more pleasurable to visit now that you have a guest room. I think you're right that this is a leap in happiness.