The three of us all showed up at the same time.
It wasn’t planned that way; that’s just how it turned out. After repeated attempts to make my current accommodations work, I concluded that a change was needed. I was answering a Craigslist advertisement seeking a “health conscious person” to rent a room near the university.
I decided I qualified as “health conscious” and arranged to meet the landlord, Robert. Two others arrived just as I did, so Robert had little choice but to take all three of us together on a tour of the comfortable adobe bungalow.
Scott was about forty: tall, pale, bearded and bald. He makes beautifully simple furniture using recycled materials and sells it at the growers’ market downtown. Bloom was dark-skinned and thirty. She is a poet and a teacher; her dream is to have a business writing custom poems to celebrate special occasions. She had just gotten her first business cards and said she was so excited when they arrived that she had started to cry.
At first it seemed awkward— who should be talking to the landlord? Who should be asking questions? But I quickly realized that I really liked these two people and they seemed to like me. Soon the three of us were happily following Robert around, asking questions in turn, as if we were some sort of peculiar religious cult looking for a headquarters.
We all like to cook and were delighted to learn that Robert was a former chef and had a kitchen full of good pots and pans. Robert said he liked to make a big pot of soup to share. We all said, in unison, that we really liked soup. We toured the backyard and we especially liked Robert’s raised garden beds. Bloom asked about the bathtub, indicating that she liked to take baths. I said that I did too.
Finally, the tour was over and we all stood in the living room. Robert fell silent for a moment. Then he looked up at us, a pained expression on his face.
“What am I gonna do?” he asked, and I could see we all wanted to help him out, since he was such a nice guy.
But there was only room for one of us and we certainly didn’t want to fight one another for it. We all said we were interested and we thanked Robert and left him with his dilemma. Then we walked out the front door and stood in the sunshine on the driveway. It was a beautiful day.
I was just thinking how easily I could share a house with these two people when Bloom said, “It’s too bad we can’t all share a house” and Scott agreed. Then there was another silence which was not awkward in the least, as we all stood at the end of the driveway and smiled about something that wasn’t going to be.
We exchanged e-mails and phone numbers and promised to get in touch if one of us heard from Robert. Then we all went home to the homes we were hoping to leave. I knew it was unlikely I would ever see either of them again. I also knew that something wonderful had just happened.
Sometimes community lasts for a year of school or a summer at camp. Sometimes community lasts a lifetime. And once in a great while, a community forms that lasts less than an hour. This one was sweet and short and special and I’m very glad I was a part of it.
Till next time,