I have been a renter of residences on and off since I chose to move away for college. There have been variants of that choice that have impacted my behavior when signing a lease or in the past three years, a rental agreement. I have enjoyed cohabitating in some capacity since my teens when my aunt agreed to let me share her child’s room for my college preparatory years. I like to claim I am cogent in my approach to being a rentee and let that influence my tenure as the leaseholder. For the majority of my adult life working to keep my safe haven in my name in some capacity, I have not had to apply an active mental awareness to the members sharing my surroundings as much as I have to do in the past two years.

Let’s put some things out in the open first- the two people I have complained about making the sheer act of sharing a home equivalent to having social roaches- sighting them makes me load my emotional equivalent of pest control in order to maintain a level of passivity that does not deter my personal mindset I want to nurture as my base. The two individuals whose day to day behaviors foster actions of flagrant disrespect to become a need share the following attributes:

In their 50s
Louis Armstrong Black
Male presenting
Share height extremes
identities are tied to their jobs in some capacity
Share a level of Southern hospitality character traits

and for my female-presenting, in my late 30s, sharing their skin tone and relationship with being coded in that color in the public gaze, I gauge that my gender traits are the factors that are playing a role in the models of the leaseholder to rentee that brings us together. With these open admissions, I have not entered these places of residence with any idea that I would place a level of my own casual ownership on any part of the residence that is not assigned to me. I openly acknowledge that my approach to lease holding is not married to the underlying acknowledgment that holding the lease allows me to be the person responsible for the property as such, I will be the one to initiate cosmetic changes. Yet, keeping to my rented portion of the property has been a subtle directive based on the actions of the leaseholders. With that acknowledgment, let’s begin-

COVID made me do something this adult child would consider hovel research before taking the simple action of asking to stay longer.

I asked.

I asked my father, a parent I have not lived with since I was twelve years old, if I could extend my temporary stay in his two-bedroom apartment during COVID. I asked. It was not something he put on the table as a need he as a parent. My brother once said our father acts as if our growing pains of being teens included a stint in prison, time in front of the judge, or destroyed the family home and strained relationships at the cost of a drug addiction. His guarding of his financial gains borders on the asinine when one considers that I took on cleaning up his apartment upon arrival by brokering items he needed to part with. With the onset of COVID, I added cooking to this. I considered my work in the kitchen a fair trade. Should any parent deny their child access to the basic survival needs- food, clothing, shelter and hygiene? They do. I like to think my work in the kitchen augmented the strain on the utilities in some capacity.

But alas, this was not enough. It was not enough to watch my ideas for my 2020 to be stripped from me, my father had t o remind me that my contribution costs him. I openly offered to not eat on his dime and was about to look into food stamps but that was not enough. His conversation starters stayed around me as an expense on his retirement income. So I left for my aunt’s place. She knew I would add to her water bill but at least she wanted me to have more clothing options. I would never enhance her home by claiming dominace over the kitchen but I could keep to my promise to leave when the deities care of my orisha and free will offered that opportunity.

That respite in my aunt’s place was necessary for my current rental situation. It has been eleven months since I left my aunt’s home and once again, my money has petered out and a move back to her home feels like the first release out of quaritene when considering the living environment I paid to reside in.

I do not know if having a source of income made living in my lease holder’s corner of the West Coast easier. It made it possible but the amount of visitors this lease holder has allowed to visit in my time here suggest that the additions of a revenue stream partnered with a lack of genetic relations put a limit on what kind of intrusive actions my leaseholder would consider if our sharing an address was one of his living expenses.

In this property, the bills are split with some level of eveness. I do not mind the slight influx in payment on the electricity since all parties in the property are living and working from home. I do mind when a charge is based on my lease holder devouring one of my local treats and having me pay for the replacement. I enjoy a shared effort by the house to adhere to a level of clean. It is uncommon in my previous living situations. The responsibility of cleaning fell on me or I was fortunate to reside in a place where the leaseholders utilized a cleaner. Here, it is a rotation of chores. I enjoy knowing when to do my chores and what is entailed for those chores.

I don’t mind additions to the chore wheel so much. I do mind the time frame for an assignment being moved without my knowledge. i mind when my efforts to be accurate in my chores is micro managed. I mind when my personal chores to keep my space tidy are looked at as less than. It is as if my home environment is under the same judgement of my first employeer- must adhere to someone else’s fluctuating standards. I did not expect to live in that. I recall fondly looking to leave that work space after three months in it. And faced with an on going reflection of my job hunting, I am kind of looking forward to leaving this residence for similar reasons.

Much like my first job, this rental arrangement promised friendship during COVID. It offered a companionable meeting of two professionals. I openly admitted to my mental state which is how American society introduces its citizens to their Awakenings and that admission got maybe thirty minutes of concern rooted in assuring my financial stability. I did not expect to make a bosom buddy but the offer of friendship was curtailed at the mention of my soulmate. If the offer of romance is off the table, so is my friendship. I guess that is a restriction men choose to adhere to even when not in a relationship but the level of success that practice brings to all relationships, not something I am part of. Yet, here in a global climate where COVID is in the air we breathe and on everything we touch, I would think there would be a pause on romantic acquision being the ethos of all touch.

I did not know how much I could miss a casual hug.

I have gone hugless on and off in my life but when I returned from the hospital post ascension, I could have used one. I did not expect it from my leaseholder despite their active work in public health. Based on his one response to a fellow comrade in his health cause, he chose a path that may have had an impact done by a group as a protest but his need to blend in and be accepted to priority. It helps that his choice for the second rentee hugs me.

I did not hide my job status when entering his residence. I have been open about my expenses and when my time in his rented spaces would come to a close. And that time is approaching. I am not happy with the conclusion of my time spent in this residence. It makes me glad the same way staying in my father’s place did- I had a private bathroom to clean and a place to wash my clothes, tend to my linens and pretend that Kayne West was not right about having a college education. But living under this individual who is a part of a system that permitted him to make a transition in employment that provided more income, renting out my designated space- a three walled room with a wooded curtain for the divider- on a surplus income space over a need, suddenly, my health issues and presence are more a hindrance than my arrival. At least, the announcement of my fellow housemate leaving suggests that to me.

I like to say I do not mind when someone partakes in my snack foods. And when I am offering, I don’t. When I am not, I do. I do not mind keeping to someone else’s idea of clean. What I do mind is the erratic time line allotted to adhere to such a desire that does not factor my lifestyle nore being informed of what life I am to support. It has taken joy out of daily maintenance. It has made me ponder the last time I was not playing yoyo with depression. I don’t want to mind that every interaction with my leaseholder is a reminder I did not do something he minds, that his mood requires aim and I am the target. I notice a pattern in his behavior that shifts when addressing my fellow rentee in regards to his comments but his universal approach to women he can not court is a problem.

He mentioned when accepting my rental agreement that COVID marked the first time both rooms were available at the same time. And in a few days, he will be in the same situation he was- looking for rentees.

In leaving my father’s place I was told he openly questioned why women leave him. The dual concern of this statement that I, his child, was viewed in the same space as a look but don’t touch partner partnered with his need to keep a friend as prisoner, is troubling. I have other friends in this age range that vary in skintone and presenting gender. Their approaches to life do not make me think sharing a roof with them would result in me looking to my aunt’s home feel like a reprieve.

Returning to my aunt’s home is a ground zero I can not wait to get out of. If another three months of job hunt will ensure I get a job to make that start.

The only positive about this it took a month to acquire my West Coast role, two weeks to obtain a place to reside while employed and I am now 30 days out from needing to move again. Maybe the orisha love me but the world’s other people are not tied to the same deities. At least, I can say I committed to this experience. But being a former leaseholder, I have my limits of what abuse I will commit to.

If only these numbers would stop bugging me.

Taking my words out to ‘lunch’.