a night of strangers

lesley and i are on a mission to find her a wonderful place to live with her son jordan come march.  the hunt seems to go in cycles of hopelessness and confidence, at least for me.  and yesterday afternoon was a bit of hopelessness, but lesley kept poking away, pursuing more leads and adding her cell phone number to her housing wanted post.  and before our computers were off, she’d gotten a text message from a man looking to rent out the guest side of his downtown apartment.  she asked if he had time to meet that night and around 7:30 we drove off to see the place and meet mike.

it had all the feel of an awkward blind date: slowly testing each other to see if lesley and mike would make good housemates.  and then it dragged on a little to that tenuous bridge from the awkward pleasantries into really getting to know each other.  and mike didn’t know what to do with himself as we answered question after question about community and polyamory and unfinished stints at college.  it was clear he didn’t want us to leave, that he was enjoying the novelty of our company and the company at all.  it was also clear that he was tempted by the freedom and passion we put into our answers, that the lifestyle we were painting stood in clear contrast to his corporate ladder and that excited him.  finally lesley and i clumsily excused ourselves after nearly two hours of hanging out with mike.  and as we walked back to the car we knew it was not going to work for her to move in with mike, but that we would text him the next day and make him take us out to dinner with a friend of his, as he’d suggested.  but we didn’t have to wait that long; mike quickly initiated a text conversation and asked us teasingly if we ate stake.

lesley and i drove away, thinking to reclaim some of our fun day by exploring an irish pub mike had told us about.  we went home first, to change into irish pub clothes and such.  and by the time we got back outside there was a blizzard rolling in.  mike had warned us, and offered to help us out if we ended up stuck in the night.  we both awwwwww’ed at his offer and rushed into the car, nearly busting our backs on icy, unplowed streets.  we had barely pulled out of our parking space when we decided instead to go to a nearby liquor store and pick up some beer and go home and watch my neighbor totoro in bed.  we got to the counter and lesley had to run out to get her id.  i paid, handing the sweet chinese man behind the counter my virginia drivers license.  he was so excited to know i was from virginia, explaining that he used to live in ellicot city, md.  when i told him i used to live in college park, he offered me his name.  and when we went to leave, joe came out from behind his counter and hugged me the best hug lesley’s seen in a long time.  it was tight and joyful and intimate and he pulled back, without taking his arms from around me, to tease about me not being allowed to leave denver now that i’m here.  after joe reluctantly let me go at the door, lesley and i skipped through the frenzied flakes singing about the generosity and open-ness of the strangers we’d met.  but it wasn’t over yet.

lesley started getting text messages from another man, a single dad with a daughter, who was curious about her craigslist post.  and a little into their conversation he asked gently if lesley and jordan were homeless, offering that he and his daughter had been a couple of years ago and that they would do whatever to make their home a home for lesley and jordan too.  he offered to move his daughter into his room, and explained that lesley’s room would be hot pink.  as i type it there are tears in my eyes.  we’re going to meet them soon, and an older couple who are offering free rent in exchange for housekeeping and the life that young people breathe into a house.

this journey has made me a little more cynical than i’d like, but last night turned me all around.  lesley and i decided that mike was right when he’d said we were going to have an adventure of meeting the many people who respond to her post.  and we decided that every time one of us travels the country to see the other, we will put up some random post on craigslist and delight in the journey to meet more strangers.  it was a breathtaking night.  and it is making for a breathtaking life.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. paxus calta
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 04:39:33

    The piece with mike reminds me of the “ambassadors from where we want to be from” role that Hawina and i have often played with people of a babylonian bent, who were more than just curious about the other side. It is a perfect subversive act.


  2. Sara Tansey
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 22:54:30

    oh, the piece with mike was so wonderful and slightly tragic. when he said that he left his television on so the house didn’t feel so lonely, i just wanted to ask him why he chose this life. as i went on about my house full of eight people with our dinners and laughter, i just wanted to shake him. and i imagine lesley and i will do these things when we go out for steak with him and his friend thomas. he needs a little more shaking up, methinks.


  3. paxus
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 01:57:32

    One of the things which is interesting about this post is you push back your cynicism by have a failed connection with prospective house mates. Just the presence and possibility of the adventure (something accessible to almost everyone) shot down your cynicism.

    we love accessible optimism.


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