the landlord was an old chinese women named su who pretended she couldn’t speak english when it was convenient. during the day she worked at a nail salon next door that doubled as the rental office.
i’m not sure why su chose to convert the property from business to residential when buffalo was already oversaturated with apartments. it was a bold move even for a slumlord. though something about our handwritten lease in a notebook tells me she may not have filed the proper paperwork.
the layout of the apartment was oddly utilitarian. this was likely due to it’s origin as an office building. at the top of the stairs was a small commons area where the receptionist used to work. now it was a living room.
no one hung out in the living room, so we never installed a tv. the only things we kept in there was tim’s overpriced drum set and the couch that trent slept on. in a few months tim would move his drums somewhere else to prevent people from playing them.
everything else was along a hallway the spanned the rest of the apartment. on the left was shane’s room, mike and justin’s room, tim and tasha’s room, and what became my room at the end. the other side was the kitchen, the laundry room, and the bathroom.
one bathroom, for seven — eventually nine — people.
when i arrived to the party everyone was already drunk. everyone except trent. trent didn’t drink anymore. not since his driver’s license was suspended after his last dui. in time, I would convince trent that drinking wasn’t so bad after all.
tim was nursing a mixed drink that he had poured in a chalice because he didn’t need to drink beer to feel like a man. tim was very comfortable with his sexuality. so much so that as soon as he noticed i was there he told me how little he cared about what people thought about him drinking a colorful cocktail out of a fancy glass.
on the opposite end of the spectrum was shane, who had just purchased a device that would help him shotgun beers faster. but only if used with the right kind of bottle. he was trying to get everyone to join him, but no was interested.
i spent most of the night talking with mike and justin about how excited i was to meet everyone last night. how great their apartment was. how much i wish i lived with them.
it was a weird slip. i’d never said anything like that to someone before. let alone someone i had just met. but it was true. maybe i could sense i was supposed to be there. maybe i was just excited to make new friends, something i hadn’t done since graduating high school.
it was true, though. i fell desperately in love with their living situation. and when i fell in love back then, i acted impulsivity. i let people know. i’m not like that anymore.
justin called my bluff and invited me to move in. he said it would be fine; there was room in the basement. it would all work out. i said yes.
tim had been elected head of the household, so i emailed him on myspace the next day. i told him what justin had said about living in the basement. I said that i didn’t even know they had a basement, but i would be more than happy to occupy it.
tim was confused by my email.
he said that there was a basement, but it was not part of the notebook paper lease. he wasn’t sure why justin would tell me that it was. maybe justin got confused. the truth is the justin lied because that’s what justin does.
i was crushed. i knew it seemed to good to be true. i didn’t want to continue living in my mom’s basement, but i didn’t seem to have a choice. for now at least.
a few weeks went by and i got another email from tim. the quiet gay woman hated living with them. they were too loud during the day, which is when she slept. three weeks into moving in she already wanted to leave. tim asked if i wanted to take over her room.
i was in.
the next day I met with tim to pay my first months rent. two hundred dollars. near the end of my time at the apartment i had trouble paying half that and split my room with another guy.
i didn’t know how good i had it at the time.