Oh, it’s been a crazy month indeed and I must say, I am very proud of us! I am proud of us because Cootie and I have done a lot of things right. For instance: we knew that we were going to have to move so we sat on our tax return, much to the local liquor store’s chagrin, so that we would have money to move. It was wise! It was smart. It was the right thing to do.
In our search for housing, we made the school zone our Number One Priority. Not only was it important to us to keep the Mogwai in a school zone where her friends would be around, but we wanted to find a district that be more to the Boy’s liking. He is not happy where he is and told us repeatedly over the last couple of months that if we could get him into a better school, he would move in with us. This is something that we all want, so we confined our searching to those areas. It was compassionate! It was parental. It was the Right Thing to Do.
And it didn’t matter. Not one little bit.
Everything within the school zone we were trying to stay inside of was either A) nasty, B) fuck-off expensive or C) both. Sure, there were plenty of apartments around. We checked them. We also checked the reviews. We found an apartment complex that seemed like it would be perfect for us until we read the stories about brown recluse spiders falling from the air vents in a tenant’s bedroom. Let me repeat that.
Brown recluse spiders. Falling. Out of the air vents. In the bedroom.
Look. I grew up watching horror movies. I’ve seen that scene before. And after being bitten by a black widow spider last year, I do not wish to live it. That is terrifying.
That was also $825 per month with a pet fee.
We tried, Me Brothers, we tried. We were willing to take a place that was almost okay, but even that wasn’t completely in the right school zone. And really, it was a workable compromise. If we hadn’t looked at The House before that.
Way out in the East part of town, The House was a thing of beauty and wonder. A three bedroom, two full bath piece of masterful 1950’s architecture, this place was everything we wanted and more. It had a walk-in pantry with an automatic light. You open the door to grab a can of peas, the light goes on. By itself. It had a deck on the same level as the top of the carport. And since it was on a hill, you could see the whole neighborhood. And I could see myself on that deck, grilling some kind of meat and staring down at my neighbours like some kind of benevolent overlord.
This doesn’t even factor in the built-in cabinetry in every room or the patio with the raised-bed gardens that already had a mature rosemary bush growing. Nor does it consider the fact that living there would put Cootie about ten minutes away from her folks and at least one of her sisters, a good thing all around. Family close by can be a good thing.
It was beautiful. What it was not was in the right school zone. We were also afraid we weren’t going to be able to pass the credit check required to attain it. But we applied for it anyway, just in case, even though we knew it was the Wrong Thing to Do. Too far away from where Mogwai wanted to be and, as I said before, keeping the kids’ needs in mind is the Right Thing to Do.
Oh, wait! Then we found out that Mogwai is failing three of her classes and about to flunk out of a fourth! Really. How does a child who stays on the computer as much as she does have an average of 37 in Tech? Unfathomable. Suddenly, staying in this school zone doesn’t seem that important. In fact, maybe a change of educational atmosphere would be a good thing. And the Boy… well, the Boy just wants away from his school.
Does The House look even better? Why, it sure does! In fact, it smells like Tabula Rasa! We move, we get a real clean start after the obligatory year-in-the-shitty-apartment that all couples are government mandated to go through after they first get together. It’s perfect.
The real question became… could we get The House? We gathered personal information on each other like Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Application filled out meticulously. Credit report obtained. Paycheck stubs copied. Everything faxed over to our potential landlord. Our potential landlord… the lawyer. That’s not daunting at all, when you’re sweating the credit check.
Turns out the guy is really nice. Business-like and efficient, but he let some of his sense of humor show through when I met him. To give him a big fat check. For our deposit and the pet fee. And to clarify that the rent at the new house would be the same as the rent we’re paying for the spore factory we’re living in now.
So, yay! We got the house!
Cootie and I sat down and made a good, solid, sound fiscal plan. To-do lists were started, planning for the actual move began and we had it all set. We were going to be able to pay our last month’s rent at the apartment and the first month’s rent at The House. We were ready to start setting up utility transfers and cable change-overs and all that good stuff that you do when you are ready to move into a new house and change your lives for the better.
Cootie and I were discussing that very thing on the way home from work the other night when the truck made this fantastic noise, almost like a painful slap. “Huh,” said Cootie. “I bet that’s not good.”
“I bet you’re right,” I said.
“Oh, look,” Cootie said, motioning toward the dashboard. “The battery light just came on and the engine temperature just shot way up.”
“Hmmm,” I said. “It may be best to find a place to pull over.”
So we did. And the tow truck driver was awfully nice. He took the truck to the nearest garage and he took us home.
The next afternoon, I called the garage to see how progress was going on repairing the truck. “We didn’t even know what it was here for,” the garage owner said.
“I left a message on your machine, ” I said.
“We were so busy this morning I didn’t even check the machine!”
So I told him what I thought was wrong with it. He told me they would try to fix it as soon as they could. “Please try to finish it today,” I said. “It is our only vehicle.”
“I hear that a lot,” he said.
An hour later. The phone rings. It’s Ron, the garage owner.
“Hey, Jeff! That belt that you thought broke was fine. We actually found it. It’s in good shape. But the reason it came off was because of the power steering has too much play in it. Keeps slinging off that belt. So you gonna need a new power steering pump.”
Open wallet, insert Eris.
Another hour goes by. The phone rings! And it’s Ron, the garage owner.
“Hey, Jeff! The reason your power steering pump went out is because your pressure hose split. Pumps just don’t go out by themselves. There’s usually a reason. I figured there’s a reason. Pump goes out for a reason. We got the hose ordered and we’ll see if we can get ‘er fixed today.”
“I knew there was a reason that pump went out because pumps don’t go out by themselves!”
“Well, gimme a call when you get it fixed.”
At this point, Eris had already gone through our bank account and was publicly masturbating with my rolled-up checkbook.
I can’t say bad things about the garage that fixed the truck. They got it done in one day. The truck handles better than it has in quite a while. Hell, Ron came to pick me up in his van at my apartment, took me to the garage where I paid for the repairs, then pulled old leaves out from under my hood while the mechanic topped off the power steering fluid. And this is the guy that owns the business!
I don’t begrudge paying the tow truck. I don’t resent paying money for the truck to get fixed. Hell, all I have had to do to it in almost ten years of ownership is put some brake pads on it and some oil in the engine. The truck has run like a teenage dream of a seventh heaven. This visit to Truck Hospital has been a rarity.
It’s just… we really needed that money for other things.
Of course, it is important that we have a safe, well-working vehicle.
But it is also important that we move out of this shithole apartment into The House, which lives in a strange place all its own, in a new school district, a new neighborhood and a new chapter in this particular story. It is the Next Step. And to be honest, I’m not sure how we’re going to get there now.
Experience has taught us that Eris runs both ways. Where her Chaos brings destruction, it sometimes leaves joy and unexpected windfalls in its wake. And sometimes, it just says, “Fuck you!” and runs off into the hills laughing.
Yeah, it’s an ambiguous ending. I can’t tell you how it ends if I don’t know.
Res ipsa loquitor.