Staring at the six feet tall pile of junk and debris, including a door, festering in my Portland backyard, I began to weep. The gallons of curdled milk seemed particularly rude. My dear friend Zoey, always with the eye for detail, spotted a gap in my nearby shed. This shed contained most of my worldly possessions. “You know rodents could get through this,” she said with concern. “Not now, Zoey, not now,” I cracked with a nasty cocktail of fear and anger. At least she was there to keep me from crumpling in the grass.
When I bought the house in 2006, it was a no brainer. The real estate market was smoking in the little NW city the New York Times can’t seem to ignore. I’d ventured cross country in my little VW convertible from Florida in 2004 as much to embrace the emerald wonderland as to flee a crippling depression (btdubs, it follows you, but movement helps a lot).
When I found the little 1919 bungalow on a side street a couple of blocks from a Trader Joe’s, I thought it had potential. Nevermind that I have trouble changing a lightbulb, much less dealing with the daily upkeep of an old house and a yard the size of Delaware. The basement was tricked out, completely ready to rent, while the owner lived upstairs. At the time, I was living at an apartment complex in NE.
My property manager had an apartment down the hall. Upon looking at the flyer, she said she and her daughter would be my first renters. I would pay less on the mortgage than on my posh, pre-war Irvington rental. Done. I made an offer that night.
And the story would have been financial puppies and butterflies if I hadn’t decided to go back to school…for YEARS, over 3,000 MILES away. No regrets. But the summer of 2011 would be filled with more than just evil renters and their crazy junk piles. The college kids managed to rack up almost $1,500. in damages. I spent the month of June managing the various repairs around the house, building a spreadsheet and generally trying to fence my anger as my house became my full-time job. When the handy man re-painted the basement floor however, I entered new emotional territory. Friend Alice and I walked down to check out the spiffy-looking space. Apparently, the oil-based paint reacted with some previously unseen adhesive residue on the floor.
“Alice, are you seeing what I’m seeing?”
“I’m not crazy right? That’s a pentagram!”
Cue maniacal laughter from me.
Indeed, the outline of a previously taped pentagram shone clearly on my otherwise heavenly beige concrete floor. I could see the Craigslist ad in my head. “Charming SE Bungalow Complete with Pentagram in Basement. Devil Worshiper Friendly. $666 a month.”
Thankfully, the handyman was able to power sand the offending symbol off the floor. And my shed was rodent free. Good times. Good times.