How lazy am I?
I'm so lazy that just the thought of having to move again made me seriously reconsider my options.
Charlie and I talked about staying in the house we're in now, and then Kate independently suggested we all stay. On Sunday a tremendous weight was lifted off my shoulders. After a couple of months and several weekends of hardcore apartment-and-house-hunting with no good leads I thought we were done for another year. We'd start paring down now and spend the next several weeks picking up the yard and cleaning the house rather than one big move.
I'm so lazy that I was willing to spend another 12 months picking up after my roommates and trying not to complain about if it meant I didn't have to pack boxes, rent a truck, and put down a security deposit and first month's rent if I could avoid it.
We called the landlord and said “Draw up a new lease! We're staying!”
We were all really relieved and glad for the opportunity to call the same place home for at least another year.
Or so I thought.
Less than 24 hours later I received a call from Charlie. Kate had called him and left a message on his cell phone. Her company may be bought out, she told him. She may or may not be laid off, she said. She did not know if she could pay her rent. She didn't know if she would have a job. Therefore, she was moving back in with her parents when the lease was up here.
I can't think of a good analogy for this story. It's like I spent every day trying to juggle everything else and still keep my eyes, ears, and brain open to a flood of new information. I was trying to keep prices, square footage, and neighborhoods from dozens of different places straight in my mind. Nothing seemed to pan out. The place we've had on the backburner from the get-go is cheap enough that it makes us suscpicious. We don't want to get into another apartment situation where our tires are getting slashed and the residents are beating up and killing one another.
So you can imagine my surprise and incredible disappointment.
Except I guess I wasn't all that terrible surprised. We may have called the landlord to renew the lease but, interestingly enough, we had not called the backburner-apartment to have our application removed. Despite the fact that we had been “in talks” for three days about the possibility of staying and had made the decision early Sunday to do so.
The worst part was the argument on Monday. Kate had called and left messages with both of us. After trashing all my links and apartment guides, the last three weeks of the NUVO, and several other resources for rentals, I just wasn't in the mood to discuss it anymore. I couldn't concentrate in my last class because I was so upset over the idea of having to start back to square one. I almost started crying on the way home but I just told myself it's not that big a deal. Just get over it, Courtney.
So I told Charlie, “When Kate comes home I really don't want to get into a discussion about this.”
He said that was no big deal, he didn't want to talk about it, either. We resigned ourselves to the fact that we'd be apartment-hunting again this coming weekend and ended the discussion.
I went to the bathroom and was washing my hands when I heard Kate come in.
I think I can say objectively that she came home looking for a fight. I think I've known her long enough to realize that she had spent all day stewing in her own juices, considering her helplessness, and furiously drove home to defend herself.
I don't know why.
It was frustrating, yes. Disappointing, yes. But to hear one of your friends yelling at your husband for no particular reason is upsetting. Their argument escalated in a matter of minutes from Charlie asking blunt questions about why she chose not to search for another job right away, why she would have to move in with her parents. The next thing I knew, her voice was raised and high-pitched, and she was swearing. I think it's really rude to bring the f-word into an argument with a friend because it always makes the other person angry. But then I realized the point was to make Charlie angry. She'd come home with a chip on her shoulder, expecting, perhaps, to have us yell at her for whatever reason. When that didn't happen, she created the opportunity. She told Charlie that as far as she could tell we want her to get some “crap eight-dollar-an-hour job” that she'll be miserable with just so Charlie and I can stay in this house, to make us happy.
Then she said that she realizes we both think she's a “coddled, spolied, f-ing brat . . . you and Courtney both.”
At this point I walked into the kitchen and yelled at them both to stop fighting. “Don't pull me into this argument,” I told her.
“Why not? Why did you make Charlie come out here and talk to me?”
“I didn't make him do anything,” I told her. “I didn't want to face you when you got home. I'm tired of thinking about all of this and I'm tired of looking at apartments all over town. I've been busting my ass for two months to try and find something so I guess now I'm really disappointed that we can't stay!” It sounds nicer than it really is when I type it, but I was yelling this. I was really frustrated. I wanted to say a million other things, like ask why she was demanding we pay attention to her, why she chose to start this fight.
But if you know me, then you know that when I get angry, it makes me all that much more pissed off that I respond with angry. Does that make sense? It's the principle behind that matter. I recognized what was going on, yet I still chose to respond this way. And I got pissed off at myself. Isn't that stupid?
Then I realized: it's easier to leave if it's on bad terms. Starting the fight was her way of giving her defense harder evidence. Not only does she not have to stay if she doesn't know whether or not there's a secure job in her future, but now she gets to say “I wouldn't want to live with those people, anyway. They're terrible, mean people who don't take my feelings in to consideration. And they yelled at me.”
Except no one yelled before she did. No one yelled until she got personal. No one wanted to talk about it but her.
And now we're being punished. She'll probably talk to anyone and everyone but us, compile her supportive statements, and rest easy that this was the best decision. Whether or not she fretted over it to begin with, she no longer has to worry – we've proven her theory by yelling in response.
I know what you're going to say, Jay. And I wish I could be nasty and mean and say this just proves moving away from housemates is the right thing to do. But Kate and I have been friends for a long time. Despite her difficulties, it still hurts when another person actively chooses to make you angry, that she would pick a fight on purpose to further her won needs; it hurts when someone demands you take their feelings into consideration, while doing so just disregards your own; and it hurts to know that someone you've tried to provide a good home for trashes your feelings and says personal things in an attempt to get a rise out of you.
I felt like a mother must feel when her teenage daughter fights with her. You get angry during the moment because you've been trying to ignore her outbursts. Then, when it's all over, you can't understand what you did wrong. Why did she choose to do this?
Several choices were made that all could have been approached differently:
1.) She chose to obsess about this stuff all day
2.) She chose to feel powerless and not make an attempt to follow through with her promise
3.) She chose to believe that we would want to fight with her
4.) She chose to nitpick and split hairs with Charlie until she got a rise out of him
5.) When it worked with Charlie, she chose to try and get a rise out of me (it's not really that difficult to do)
6.) When we gave her that desired response, she chose to leave and tell her friend Meghan what nasty, mean people we are and, no doubt, how leaving is the “right thing for her” because we've proven how terrible and nasty it would be to continue living with us.
Have you ever read Odd Girl Out? It's a nonfiction, case-study-type title about how females ostracise one another; how they pick fights and choose to turn friends against one another. That's how I feel. I'm not sure Kate realizes how lucky she is: she has a tremendous support network, from everyone in her family to Mehgan and Jini, her brother, her friend Keith, and even me and Charlie. Everyone has chosen to try and help her however they can. Going to Meghan to bitch about us was the first step in Cutting the Bad Friends out of her life – to let the Good Friends know who to now hate.
The worst part is that we chose to absorb much more in living expenses and utilities than we would at an apartment in an attempt to give all of us (including her) a safe, convenient, inexpensive place to live. All along we were actually considering her feelings and what would be easiest for her. If we stayed we were willing to compromise, switch bedrooms so her dog didn't have to go up and down the stairs. Every community we went to, we picked up info on studio and 1-br apartments for her, asked about pet policies, checked on utilities for her. Instead she had to get dirty and say we just want her to be unhappy so we can stay at this house? Makes me wonder what the hell she's been doing the past year if it's truly that horrible to live with us.