Monday morning, I checked out of my hotel, loaded everything, including my cats, back into the U-Haul van, and headed to Lakewood in search of a move-in-ready apartment. What I found was:
- a historic building with elevators that smelled like old, used cat litter;
- studio apartments that looked even worse than the elevator smelled but cost the same as my former one-bedroom apartment; and
- a tenant who said she’s “just riding out [her] lease” because she got tapeworm after she moved in, and she can smell mold when she passes certain parts of the building, but management covers it up with Febreze when people complain.
After spending a few hours at Edgewater Park, where I searched rental websites and made some more calls, I drove to Lakeland Avenue for a 4 p.m. appointment, hoping the first-floor efficiency would look like the photos in the Craigslist ad. Unfortunately, the shiny, Murphy’s-Oil-Soaped floors were just a facade. I walked in to scuffed hardwood, broken blinds, and a kitchen sink that looked like Dr. Mengele had lived there. I’m not kidding. Why property companies show places that clearly haven’t been cleaned is beyond me, but that sink will haunt my subconscious until I die.
I did, however, make friends with an older, black gentleman who showed up half an hour early for his 4:30 appointment.
I like punctual people.
While we waited for the property manager to arrive from the east side, he said he’d moved to Cleveland from Las Vegas less than a week earlier and was staying at my hotel, which is close to the airport, hemorrhaging money like me.
“If you want to go in on a place together, I’m down for it,” he said as we walked to our vehicles — his Jag and my U-Haul, agreeing that we were not going to apply for the place we’d just viewed. “We can get a lot more for a lot less than these people are asking,” he said.
“Okay! Let me think about it,” I said, fishing a business card from my backpack as I tried not to drop my 8-year-old orange cat, who was slung over my shoulder in a pet carrier, and begged my nearly 1-year-old kitten to stop crying and climbing me like a tree in a vain attempt to get out of the rain. I’d been praying all day for God to help me find a place now that my credit’s shot and I have an eviction on my record. Maybe he sent me a roommate, I thought. He’s sent me a lot of other things I don’t want…
Once I returned to the hotel, where I was told the boilers broke and there wouldn’t be hot water for at least 24 hours, and then checked into one room before moving to another because the tub faucet was imitating Niagara Falls, I turned on Radio 1000 and listened to Darrell Scott.
“I’m gonna be cautious from now on. Cautious about who I let into my life, cautious about what I let into my mind, cautious about who I associate with, [and] cautious about what comes out of my mouth,” he said during the last minute and a half of his sermon.
The next morning, I learned that my new friend owns “adult entertainment businesses” in Sin City, Phoenix, and New York. I later learned they’re escort services.
Needless to say, I will not be splitting rent with him.