A place of my own

Four days in and I’m getting used to it. It feels almost normal. I think I even have the top floor to myself again. And by that I mean it would be the second time I thought I had it. Because the last time, people showed up at about 12:15 AM ringing the bell and knocking on the door downstairs. Woke me up, though I pretended it didn’t. I’m not going down there in my pajamas to tell someone why I can’t let them in, or to explain to them how to use the lockbox, because they can’t follow instructions. I was conflicted about leaving them out there in the cold all night, but I don’t know who’s supposed to be staying here and who isn’t. They got in eventually. There’s a long term resident here, Patrick, who I haven’t met, but I was told by the host, Alexis, who I also haven’t met, that he could help out if I needed something. So, I left it to Patrick and he must have caught on at some point, or they figured something out because they all came up to the second floor, which I had thought I was going to have to myself.

Then the next night, they were hanging out talking and laughing at 3:30 in the morning, waking me up again. It was one person in particular who was louder than the rest. There’s always the one who isn’t aware of the quiet.

The upside is that I didn’t worry about disturbing them when I was getting ready in the morning. And I knew I’d have no competition for the bathroom, because they weren’t going to get up that early.

They’ve checked out now and I never even saw them.

So, if you’re wondering, I was seduced by the affordability of renting (just) a room in a house, in Pittsburgh, “where no one lives,” (the listing said). I was fooled, for a minute, during which time I felt the need to grab this great deal before it disappeared, No one lives here, except the other renters and the long term resident, Patrick, but let’s not quibble over details.

There were other reasons I was able to convince myself that despite the cheep price, which was, of course, too good to be true, I’d have the entire house to myself. The other rooms were “off limits,” they felt the need to say. If there were people in them, wouldn’t that be obvious? Quiet time was 10PM, “because it is a residential neighborhood,” not because you could disturb other guests (like the other guests disturbed me). On the other hand, that there was “absolutely no cooking in the kitchen after 10PM” should have been a flag. I didn’t understand why they would care, if I was the only one using the house.

I checked the listing again.

“Lot’s of privacy.”

“Residential neighborhood.”.

“No cooking after 10.”

“This is one of four rooms in this house that I host.”

Missed that the first time. Oops.

Hey, it’s fine. I have my own room. That’s more than I have at home.

There’s value in doing things the hard way, anyway, like traveling in coach, for example, or taking shorter showers, because there’s only one bathroom, or packing your own lunch, or waiting for everyone’s favorite show to come out on Netflix before you watch it, or writing without a desk. First world difficulties, I know, but still, it matters, because people can have it way too easy, and that’s even what they think they want!

People aren’t just looking for an easy way to lose weight, they’re looking for an easy way to do everything. But this expectation that anything should be easy inhibits progress. I suppose it can help to have a quiet place to think, a good cup of coffee, or something to eat, but when you get absolutely everything you think you need to set the stage for creativity, or productivity or focus, then you end up expecting that the work will be easy too. And nothing you really want is easy to get. Truth. So you might as well stop expecting that anything you do is going to make the work easier.

You might as well do everything a harder way. You might as well just get used to it.

And if you’re like me, soft, then even baby steps could make the difference between having loads of unfulfilled potential to brag about, and actually doing something.

So, this has been good for me. I had a lot of goals for this week off by myself, killing vacation that was otherwise going to expire. Bound to feel a little bit of underachievement, but I’ve been productive. I have written three blog posts (whatever, it’s something), worked on Spanish, translating two paragraphs of a book I’m reading, Todo va a estar bien, By Ricardo Silva Romero, a Colombian. 233 of 224 pages to go. I’ve seen Pittsburgh (or not), walked a lot for exercise (or not) and tambien visité a mi hija when she was available. That’s why I chose to come here, to spend some time with my daughter before she graduates next month, when I will return one last time, to Pittsburgh, and then never again (well, who  knows).

It’s been good. I’m sad it’s almost over.

Seems like yesterday we were dropping her off here, and yet I’m still surprised at how the week has flown by. 

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