Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What Did I Expect? That IS What It's For...

Some time ago, I thought, "Facebook? Why the hell not?"

In 1991, I moved from suburban Dallas to Back Bay Boston to attend Emerson College. I lived in the Fensgate dorm. The cool kids got to live in the bizarre and apparently haunted Charlesgate dorm, but alas, I wasn't that cool. Emerson sold both dorms as they dumped their Back Bay properties and centralized their campus downtown. Now Fensgate is the Charlesview, a luxury condo development. Rumor at the time had it that it had been a mental hospital long ago, because there were strange panels in the door that looked like they had at one time been cutouts, supposedly for passing through food to the patients locked inside. Not true. It was a hotel. Maybe that was the Fensgate uncool kids attempt at one-upping the Charlesgate cool kids.

Anyway, what was I talking about again?

Oh, yeah. I had three roommates. The first, a sophomore, moved in a week earlier than the rest of us because he had volunteered for Orientation Week, showing the new students and their parents around. Consequently, he claimed the dorm room's one bedroom for himself, leaving the rest of us to share the common room. He was also extremely active in his fraternity, which was actually a Boston University chapter, so we didn't see that much of him in the room. Within a few weeks of the start of school, the second roommate was asked to take a leave of absence to seek treatment for alcoholism. So, for the most part, the room was shared by the third roommate and me.

We weren't the best of friends, but we got along fairly well. He was a charmer and a ladies man. I latched onto him because I didn't have a lot of friends. He invited me to Seder at Passover, and his parents welcomed me warmly. We lived one floor above Aerie, and once she and I got over hating each other, she, the roommate and I would spend a lot of time hanging out in our room together. He was a relentless flirt, and she enjoyed messing with him, and I liked playing along. Except when he tried to tell her that he could drive her crazy by kissing her neck, and she said something to the effect of "good luck with that," and I had to leave the room when he began to try while she stared off into space looking bored. Weird moment. Didn't realize at the time that it bothered me because I was jealous. We were still months away from being a couple.

So summer approached, and I decided to stay in Boston, though I couldn't afford to continue going to Emerson. The roommate wanted to move out of the dorm and into an apartment, so we agreed to be roommates. We searched for an apartment, but I couldn't afford rents in the Back Bay area, and he refused to compromise and live a little further out, even though we were talking about places right on the T line, only a few minutes ride away. He was spending his parents' money and had no financial motivation to live further out, so he flatly refused to do it. That should've been my first clue that this wasn't going to be a good arrangement. In fact, it should have been the latest in a string of clues, but I wanted to stay and didn't have many other prospects, so I went ahead.

We rented an expensive condo right at Mass. Ave. and Commonwealth Ave. Not a cheap neighborhood. Nope. But so that I could afford it, we got a one-bedroom, and he paid (slightly) more per month and got the bedroom. I lived on a pullout couch in the living room. I had been essentially doing the same in the dorm, so I thought it wasn't that bad of a compromise.

But it became quickly apparent that he didn't really respect it as my "bedroom." I worked overnights, and came home to find his party guests of the night before sleeping everywhere, including my couch.

When Aerie and I had our first kiss, and I told him about it, he told me to be leery of her because she'd wanted to do the same thing with him not long before, but he'd refused. Was it true? No, it was not. Yeah, he was that kind of friend.

As my relationship with Aerie blossomed, we once did a little fooling around while the roommate was out. In the middle of it, we heard his key in the lock. I jumped up and ran toward the door yelling for him to give us just a minute, but of course he wouldn't. He came right in, doing his best to get a look at her in flagrante delicto. He found it hilarious, and he teased me for weeks about coming through the door and seeing me running right at him, naked. Hilarious.

Then, with 4 months left in the lease, he stopped coming home. One of his grandparents had died, and he was spending more time at home, or something like that. I don't remember exactly. He just left. We talked to our landlord about letting Aerie take over the roommate's part of the lease, or to sublet it from the roommate, or something. But the landlord had a perfectly good lease and didn't care to make a change. So the roommate's mother continued to pay his portion of the rent, and I told the roommate we'd pay him back monthly. He told me to just hold on to the money and pay him the total at the end of the lease.

Then after Aerie moved in, the roommate decided he wanted to come back. We were almost through with the lease anyway. He never really moved back, but he did come and go whenever he pleased, and I didn't put it past him to do something to mess with us, so I put my own lock on the bedroom door, and we rode out the awkwardness. And when the time came to pay him, well... I didn't. I kept the money. I still feel guilty about it, a little. Mostly I regret, though, that it was his mother's money I stole and not his.

We ran into him a few years later, walking on the street on New Year's Eve. He wished us the most sarcastic Happy New Year ever, and kept walking, and we never saw him again.

But yesterday I got a Facebook message from him: "Well, well, well. If it isn't Rodius. What's it's been, 15 years? You still with Aerie? How the hell are you? What have you been up to?"

And that's when it hit me: Oh. Facebook. That's why the hell not.

1 comment:

Aerie said...

You know my take on it. It's what is at heart that counts. It wasn't then nor is it now your nature to hurt others. He, on the other hand, was always most concerned about himself and didn't care who he used or hurt for self gain. Sometimes Karma needs a helping hand.

I lived in Charlesgate my Freshman year. It IS haunted. Oh, and the plumbing sucked.

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