Saturday, April 9, 2016

Sharing the Stink

For now, I share a hallway and a bathroom with my nephew. I can't tell you how awkward that is. Oh, he's a good guy. He is. He's thoughtful and relatively neat, but there's something about passing a guy less than half your age in the hall just outside the shitter when one of you has just been in there shitting. And that bathroom, unfortunately, has no fan, only a window that props open and brings in ice-cold fresh air. Afterward, it still smells like your business, just colder.

The worst part is that my nephew is also aware, oh so keenly aware of the awkwardness of our situation. I can imagine him on the other side of his bedroom praying for me to leave the hallway quickly so he can take his morning piss.

So, we've come up with alternate plans for going up and down that short hallway. At ten-thirty, he leaps up to 'go to bed' ten minutes before I might mention it. I've never seen a twenty-something so eager to go to bed. Plus, he's desperately plunging through one apartment or another in an attempt to move out. There are days when it's obvious that the boy should take a break from his search and prop up his feet, but he's on a quest. I don't blame him. I try very hard not to encourage him to a degree that it makes me look like he should be leaving the day after tomorrow, but I've felt my face lighting up whenever he mentions a potential place.

The other day he said, "There's a place I might be able to get into." I'm sure you could see the relief on my face. But he went on to say, "but it doesn't come available until the fifteenth." I tried to keep my face cheerful about ten more days of awkward encounters in the hallway outside the bathroom, but I'm sure the joy left my eyes as the smile stayed plastered to my face.

"Oh, that's no problem," I said. "You can stay as long as you need to." Did you notice that I used the word 'need' instead of 'want?' I'm sure he did. Like I said, he's a sensitive soul and my cheerfulness just seemed to pain him.

A day or two later, he stood towering over me with downcast eyes and said, "That apartment isn't going to be free until the twentieth." He didn't apologize but the boy seemed absolutely small. That's hard for someone who's six foot four with size thirteen shoes. For a moment, I forgot the stupid bathroom/hallway problem and felt the pain of living with your aunt, uncle, and cousin when you are in your twenties. We all know it's only for a few weeks because the job is there, just not the apartment. But somehow it's worse than living with your parents. You can't quite relax into your usual routine. It's more akin to living with your grandma only Grandma is better at making you feel cozy and you can feel like a six year old in her fluffy little house. So, yeah, it's about the worst way you can move out, living with your aunt and uncle and sharing a hallway and a stinky bathroom. 

"Oh hon," I said to him, "just relax. You'll find your own place in good time." I meant it this time. It's going to be okay. I know it will. I keep telling myself that and after my nephew finds his own place, I'm sure the hallway encounters will lose their stink even in my memory.

Thank you for listening, jules

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