Chapter 76: “Getting a New Apartment”
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Travis had expressed an interest in making more money, and I had informed him of a position that opened up at Eastern Maine Medical Center in the kitchen with me; it was a different shift than mine, but there were a few hours of overlap. I feared I would trap him into leading down the same occupational line that I had once worked. Actually, so far he had: Potato Harvest, a few weeks at MBNA, Subway, and now EMMC. What was I doing to this poor boy?! The only two outliers he had were McDonald’s and a call center company called Sitel. Nevertheless, I wanted more for him (and admittedly, for myself).
It’s a good thing that this job was also close to home as winter, in particular, had been somewhat harsh as snow accumulated earlier than usual and the wind whipped through you, not just at you.
Then on one frigid day, our electric water heater crapped out. We called our landlord, Rick, and he was no help yet again. We were reasonably certain that he was passively trying to force us out. He purposely avoided dealing with our issues as tenants, and since he owned this place outright instead of just managing it, he didn’t seem to care about its upkeep. I know, it sounded ass-backward.
Our friend, Kyle, was kind enough to let us shower at his apartment. If it weren’t for him, then we would have formed brown spots on our bodies and been forced to eschew any social interactions we were fortunate enough to have. Kyle wanted to find a place with us, but we hadn’t seen any suitable apartments that had four rooms and his lease was up in eight months. I also knew that I thoroughly enjoyed having my own room on State Street.
And unfortunately, our hand was forced, and we needed to find a new place fast. We searched the newspaper and asked around. We came across a lot of places that were mediocre including a more substantial space off of the other side of State Street (not too far away) that Travis and I scoped out first. The place had an old farm look to it that positively reflected in its age. Trav and I were desperate, but this one was in our budget, and so we recommended it to Shawn.
Meanwhile, Shawn had decided that Megan should move in with us despite both Travis and me voting against it. He simply went against us instead of taking our votes into consideration. Shawn AND Megan both visited this place and came back to us, disgusted. They hated it and said that we were rushing out of the current apartment. Shawn had a point, but it was true. We needed to be out of there immediately. I personally couldn’t stand relying on Kyle to perform a simple daily function such as showering anymore. We needed to move.
Travis worked the later shift at the hospital, and on yet another chilly night, he came across a ‘For Rent’ sign two buildings down from us on State Street. I had seen it before, but it was priced above our budget. Travis brought the apartment to our attention that night. We all walked over and scoped the building out and jotted down the number. Maybe our budget wasn’t realistic anymore, and we figured it was worth a look.
The next day we called the manager and secured a showing of this apartment. The guy’s name was Steve, and he was a manly man: football loving, pick-up-truck-driving son of a bitch.
He was also gay and “jokingly” offered cheaper rent if he could suck our dicks. He was the only gay guy to give the sexual orientation a bad name so far (and spoilers: ever since too). We knew we had needed a place and this was a great looking apartment. So we said yes, much to the enjoyment of Steve.
We signed our lease and handed over the security deposit and began the move the very next day. This had proved to be the laxest move in our very short lives; a welcomed change of pace considering we literally had the most challenging move before this. We walked all of our big furniture over the two building distance and had the move completed in just one day.
Shawn refused to share a room with anyone this time, and since this place was only two bedrooms, Travis and I would have to share a room for the first time in fourteen years. The irony, of course, was that Shawn would be sharing his room with Megan. The apartment was a source of both highs and lows, and most of it was due to the new roommates that weren’t my brother and me.
As a result, my and Travis’ shared camaraderie with Shawn had begun to suffer. His tumultuous relationship with his girlfriend caused quite a few fights both in the apartment and on the phone. One night, while Keith and John came down to visit, a livid fight emanated from the pair, and Shawn put a button on it by punching a hole in the drywall near the living room. The act proved to be an effective buzzkill on the reunion.
Then one night, while I was coming home from work on a dark, late afternoon (thanks, Daylight Savings Time) I ripped into a package of Oreos, and as I motioned to shove yet another one in my mouth, I dropped it, and it had rolled under Trav’s bed. I dove after it and instantly threw my back out.
I had wished it was a cooler story, but I couldn’t make it any more obese or sad. To be fair, I had been working in the pot room much more frequently as of late and felt my lower back twinge when I hoisted several heavy pots over the course of each day. This was merely the “Oreo that broke the cow’s back.”
Travis helped me get up from off the floor and onto my bed, which thankfully, didn’t have a frame. Each inch upward took several minutes of painful mustering. I finally lied down and settled into a comfortable position that wouldn’t hurt. I debated going to the hospital, as I was wont to do when I had anxiety attacks but decided to wait to see if tomorrow I would feel better.
All of the stress and pain gave way to a deep sleep. I awoke several hours later to whispering from outside my bedroom door. I opened my eyes and saw the light in the hallway was on and heard Megan and Shawn towards my general direction. Shawn used this opportunity to make fun of my exposed feet. “Look at those gorilla feet. That’s disgusting.” I didn’t have the energy to move or to even say anything, so I pretended to sleep. I wasn’t angry at that moment but didn’t know what hurt more.
But all of my time with Shawn wasn’t bad, not in the least. One of my favorite moments from that apartment was when we took a twenty-four pack of beers and funneled eleven a piece in an hour. I had never funneled beer in my life (and haven’t since) but we got wasted in the most fun way. Thankfully, it was Bud Light, so we didn’t fill up to the point of regurgitation.
And despite my body’s own attempts on my life, I made it to 2008. It’s crazy to think about but what’s even more bizarre is that during some of those most intense panic attacks I had hoped to live long enough to play Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
What a life goal, Jamie.
This is an ongoing story of my personal battle with Cancer. My hope is that it helps others who are currently experiencing their own battles (whether it be for themselves or a loved one) or to help with early detection.
The way I’m doing it is terrifying for a writer. I’m writing a publically available first-draft outline for an eventual book, chapter by chapter in weekly form. The only reason I’m doing it this way is to get the story out as soon as possible for someone out there who needs a survivor to visit them during their own treatment. If you’re reading this and need someone to talk to, tweet at me and I’ll give you a call. No questions asked. This story is for you and I’ll help any way that I can.
Stay tuned, as I will be posting a new chapter every Monday until the story is complete.
And remember if you experience any Anemic symptoms– get checked for Leukemia as well.