Fuck me. I was kinda hoping she wouldn’t realize I was home. I snuggled back under my covers and played dead.
“Yea Julie?” I finally called out.
“I took care of the mouse!” Oh ggggg-ross. My Boston apartment was, quite easily, the shittiest apartment I ever lived in. I spent my first night Googling the side effects of lead poisoning. The plaster walls crumbled each time I attempted to hang a photo in my bedroom. And even though it was February, 2015—the worst Boston winter in recent history—I slept with the windows wide open. It was NINETY FUCKING DEGREES in that apartment. NINETY!
In conclusion, I hate radiators.
I spotted a mouse within four days of living in that apartment. Given the above paragraph, you can picture how painfully unsurprised I was. You may also presume it did not deter me from crawling on top of the kitchen counters and screaming like a twelve-year-old girl for my roommate, Laura.
Laura’s girlfriend Julie worked in a lab. Crawling on top of counters in a biomedical research facility is typically frowned upon. I imagine.
“Thanks girl,” I called out, “We appreciate you!”
I heard Julie close the door and weighed my options. Julie would, in all likelihood, tell Laura I was home in the middle of the workday. Chain reaction: Laura would wonder why her roommate, someone who just started her job last Monday, was already taking a sick day.
I could lie. I could take the sociopathic route and make up a crazy explanation as to why I wasn’t working. I could name 1,274 stories more believable than the truth: That I moved my life from Pittsburgh, PA to Boston, MA; and was fired in eight days.
Knowing how fucked I was already, I decided any remnants of good karma trumped saving face. I grabbed my phone from under my pillow and texted my roommate:
Hey. What time do you get off work? I just thought I should text you because Julie was here and I was home which is kinda weird…I went into work today and they fired me.
If you read my post from last week, you know approximately five percent of my Boston story.
If I ever write a book, I’ll give you all the facts. Until that day comes, Boston is categorized under, Things I Choose Not to Think About.
This story isn’t Boston. This is about the girl who got me through it.
You don’t know Laura. I never wrote about her, because there was no way I could talk about her and not reveal one of the worst fuck-ups of my life. Now that I’ve accepted all that happened in that city, it’s time I introduce you to her.
Because that girl, someone who didn’t know I existed until the month I moved in, was the best thing out of Boston.
And without knowing it, she got me through one of the toughest stretches of my life.
Laura slid onto the bar stool next to me as I reached for my wallet. “Dude,” she said, “Don’t even think about think about it. Hey! Can we get another round?”
I hated thinking I was a charity case, but this time I didn’t argue. I put my credit card away.
After receiving my texts, Laura got off work early and met me at the BBQ joint around the block. She didn’t prod me with questions or make me feel rushed. She just sat there. With the exception of a couple “Holy f—ks” thrown out as I described my nightmare of the past forty-eight hours, she never once interrupted me.
Now, pause for a second and put yourself in Laura’s shoes.
Really imagine it. Your roommate—who you’ve known for all of twelve days—has zero source of income. You’re twenty-four years old. You’re paying your way through grad school. You are BANKING on a girl whom you met on CRAIGSLIST to fork over fifty-percent of your rent. Yet somehow, this chick managed to get herself fired in less than two weeks. You didn’t do a background check on her, and for all you know she could be straight up LYING about the assholes that screwed her over. Perhaps she’s really an addict and got fired for snorting a line of coke in the bathroom.
Can you honestly say that NONE OF THAT would have crossed your mind?
I’m sure you think you’re a very kind, empathetic person. But can you say, for certain, what you would have done in that situation?
Can you really tell me you wouldn’t run home, relist that apartment on Craigslist, and say, “Hey sorry man, I know you’re in a bind but I really need someone with a stable income here…”?
I’m not sure I could—and it happened to me. If Laura thought any of that, give that girl an Emmy.
On that particular Thursday, there was nothing anyone could say to make things better. I didn’t want to hear it would all be ok. I didn’t care about things happening for a reason. Yet somehow, a girl who had yet to learn my middle name knew the most perfect three words in the English language to say:
“Dude. Fuck them.”
That’s the one and only time I’ve gone to bed at night and thanked God for Craigslist.org.
Over the next three months, Laura and Julie did everything in their power to make me feel at home.
Even though I woke up each week wondering if it would be my last in that city, they tried to make things feel permanent. They helped me get a Charlie Card. They took me out for St. Pattys in Southie. They bought me a card with farm animals on it for my birthday (hashtag Iowa). They tried—and failed—to teach me the rules of rugby. I sat on the sidelines with their other friends and watched their matches anyway.
Laura never asked me about my job search. She never questioned my plans. That wasn’t her role to play. I didn’t need someone to worry about me or my bank account. I didn’t need one more person to explain myself to.
What I needed, more than anything—in a city where I was a stranger and had zero friends—was someone to come home to.
Laura helped me make the best of a really shitty situation. I painted every last wall in that crappy apartment. I found a running group to train with. And even though I put my parents and brother through hell those three months, and who knows how many nights they spent worrying about me, my mom actually said to me, “I mean, are you sure you want to leave? You seem to really be…figuring Boston out.”
At one point during this lifetime, you are going to meet someone who needs…someone.
Anyone, actually. And you will be in a position to either say, “Yes, I’m going to be that person,” or, “Why does it have to be me?”
You have every right to say that latter.
Laura owed me NOTHING. I was supposed to be a random sublet in the second bedroom of her apartment. She didn’t sign-up for the job of Personal Boston Hostess, ensuring I didn’t lose my mind to sheer panic.
I have never been so grateful for someone I lived with for less than three months. To this day, I’m sure Laura has no idea the impact she made on me. I’m sure she tells herself, “I just did what everyone else would have done in a similar situation.”
No, they wouldn’t. The vast majority of people would have thrown up their hands and said, “Listen, I have my own shit going on. This isn’t my problem to deal with.”
You get nothing out of being a good person.
It will not advance your career. It won’t grow your bank account. It won’t increase your social status, pay your credit card debt, or score you the hot guy at the bar. There is nothing you will gain from it.
But understand this: You never know when something that seems very minor to you, will make a major, lifelong impact on another person.