Friday, October 3, 2008

Welcome to Boo House

After our landlord, Ms. Knight, married her high school sweetheart, Mr. Right, and informed us she would be selling the house and moving to North Carolina, Dave and I began the search for a new place. Friends were skeptical that we would be able to find anything comparable: 159 Grosvenor St. was a palace. It was a Sears Craftsman home, probably built in the 20s, reportedly for a local physician and his family. In 2008 it still had its original wood floors—though they were mostly covered by highly practical but thankfully new berber—and the crown molding capping the walls, the decorative columns framing the living room entry, and the woodwork around the windows, doors, and fireplace was still beautiful. The rooms were spacious and the ceilings high, and a second bathroom had been added some years before.

That's not what made it a palace, though. The thing that sealed the deal, that made us grimace at the news of changing ownership, was that Mrs. Knight-Right had been content to rent it out at a mere $1000 a month to four grad students—one tenant more than the legal limit of three unrelated occupants per house. And even though four of us split the rent, it only ever felt like two of us were living there.

See, the other two tenants were practically ghosts. Tom, a first-year masters student in the theatre department, spent pretty much all his time at school and on the stage. Even when he was home he pretty much kept to himself in the attic bedroom. I never saw him watch TV, never saw him do homework in the living room, and never saw him sit down and eat a meal—he would just microwave a Lean Pocket and stand over the kitchen counter before slipping back upstairs and out of sight. It wasn't odd for me to go a week without seeing him, or if I did it would just be for the second it took him to hit the bottom of the stairs and lock the bathroom door behind him (why he ever agreed to live on the third floor and use the first floor bathroom I'll never know).

Tony was even more absent. He actually lived an hour and a half away, with his wife, and only came into town for days he had class or taught. He would usually show up Monday morning pretty early and leave Thursday afternoon, but even when he was in town I'd see him more at the office than at home. The only thing I ever, ever saw him eat was popcorn.

I can count the times all four of us were in the same room on one hand. I can count the conversations I had with Tom and Tony on the same hand. Which means that Dave and I had the run of a beautiful three-story home with porch, swing, parking, basement, laundry, and more for a mere $255 a month each.

Finding a comparable deal elsewhere seemed, uh, unlikely.

But, as it turns out, I'm the second-luckiest guy in the world, and Dave is maybe a close third. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Boo House.1

It may not look like much on the outside, but this house is a real catch. Turns out it almost exactly the same as our old house but smaller. The floor plan is eerily familiar, but everything is five or six steps closer and there's no attic room. Instead, there's a nice walk-in shower, a laundry room on the first floor, a coat closet with a full-length mirror on the door, and a deck out back.

There's also a dishwasher—an insane luxury and a big selling point—but it is missing an important part, so it doesn't work yet.

Dave found the house a few weeks after Mrs. Knight-Righter gave us the news, and upon seeing it we knew we had found the house for us. There was only one problem: there was now only two of us since our ghost-roommates wouldn't be moving with us, and the house needed three to make the rent feasible. But where could we find a third warm body that wouldn't cramp our style of using the whole refrigerator and all the cupboards and all the furniture as if no one else were around? Should we sign the lease and then find a sucker or should we risk someone else leasing the house while we made inquiries?

Dave was a little worried, but I told him not to sweat it, that if God had thrown us a house with a dishwasher He'd certainly toss a roommate in on the bargain.

I went to church that very Sunday and noticed a guy about my age sitting near the back in street clothes. After the service I found out he was a soon-to-be BYU grad in Athens for just a few days to find housing for the next year when he'd be beginning a masters in history. "Looking for a house, eh?" said I.

And the rest is history. Joel, as it turns out, is a real champ. He's even better than a ghost-roommate, which is good, cause I don't want to live in a haunted house in a town that has five graveyards and a haunted insane asylum.

1 Haven't you always wanted to live in a house with a name? "See you this evening for whist at Pemberly, what?"


Janssen said...

You should name our house when you come up to Austin.

Jennifer said...

I want to hear more about the haunted insane asylum. If my house had a name it would be Pet Sematary.

Arianne said... name is Arianne. I'm friends with Elisa--that's how I connected to your blog. Strange because I know Joel. Tell him hi from Arianne and he'll be totally weirded out. It'll be great.