Yesterday, I almost killed myself. I sent that message to a number of friends shortly afterwards, without realizing that I’d left out the word “accidentally.” So for all of you who nearly sh*t your pants at that, I apologize. Now, here I present to you, a more accurate portrayal of how I almost crossed the River Styx to meet up with dear old St Pete.
It begins with my psychotic landlord (now former landlord).
- This is a man who counted the number of wire hangers that were left in the closet by previous tenants, then indicated that number on my lease. I wonder how much he charges for a missing hanger.
- This is a man who calls me “Ms. Weissenberger” every 10 seconds so that I feel like I’m Neo from The Matrix.
- This is a man who made me take off my shoes before touring the apartment for the first time.
- This is a man who asked me if I realized that a lease is binding and I “can’t just decide to leave if it doesn’t work out with my boyfriend.” Which, of course, bothered me for two reasons. (1) Apparently, if a girl has a guy friend who lives close by and comes with her to look at an apartment, it must be her boyfriend. It wasn’t my boyfriend. (2) He must think I’m an idiot for not knowing how a lease/contract work.
- This is a man who insisted on speaking to my employer on the phone prior to renting my apartment, despite having written confirmation on company letterhead that I was employed.
- This is a man who I told in my 60 day notice that I’d be out “in plenty of time” prior to my move out date, and then proceeded to call me three times this month to ask if I’d be out early. Funny story about how I paid until the 30th, and I’ll stay until the 30th if I want to stay. (I’ve been mostly moved out for days…I’m making him wait until the 29th out of principle)
- This is a man who I just made plans to meet tomorrow at 6pm to return my keys, and then insisted that I call him an hour and a half beforehand “to confirm.” I told him I won’t do that, I made plans to meet him at 6pm, I’ll be there at 6pm.
I don’t know if this accurately reflects the man’s obsessive compulsive nature. Nonetheless, I know him to be an extremely detail-oriented, awkward, intrusive, condescending, sexist, cheap prick. As I was packing up my apartment, I could only imagine the kinds of little things he would try withholding from my security deposit. I took my grocery sack over to Safeway, packed it full with cleaning products that would make a maid blush and made my way back to my studio apartment.
I threw open the windows and like everyone’s favorite housekeeper, Amelia Bedelia, pulled up my hypoallergenic latex gloves and got to work.
After two hours of flying suds, lifted dust, sparkling grout, it still wasn’t quite enough. I could imagine “Dr.T” (as he likes to be called) scribbling down on his sheet that he couldn’t quite eat off the floor. Driven by disdain and determination, I threw down my medical-grade cleaning solution on the floor, because nothing less that utter sterile conditions would suffice. As the chemicals buzzed around my head during the obligatory 10 minute “soaking period,” I thought I’d double down and spritz some of my all-purpose cleaner onto the wall to clean up any remaining splashes from my vigorous electric mixing during baking sessions. It wasn’t until I started to get a wee bit woozy that I realized that the floor solution had ammonia and the wall cleaner had bleach and I might be about to pass out and die from noxious fumes.
I dropped the brush, threw on my pants (what, I didn’t want to get bleach on them), and hopped out the door, down the hall, and out the building to fresh air. I gave the apartment some time to air out while I cursed my own silly naïveté. It’s not that I didn’t know not to mix ammonia and bleach, I absolutely did. Sometimes, I’ve been told, smart people, do stupid things.
It might be fitting though, for that to be one of the last things to happen in that apartment. In many ways, my itty bitty studio in Rosslyn saw me grow up. The walls watched as I set of the smoke detector three times in my first week; pulled all nighters to finish papers; slept a weekend away; primped for nights out; snuggled up for nights in; knitted and baked; cried while watching movies that reminded me of home; learned to unclog sinks, toilets, and tubs; got my first job and subsequently struggled to understand benefits and a 401k; and, eventually, nearly killing myself while trying to move on.
Since moving out to D.C.-and then Virginia-a lot has happened. As new beginnings unfold, I find myself looking back at what I’ve learned and into the mirror–or the sparkling floors of my old apartment–at the person I’ve become. I’m not the person that I was when I moved into the apartment. Maybe I didn’t die, but the girl who moved in is certainly gone, and the young woman moving out is using bleach to dispose of the evidence. Seems fitting.