I had two weeks to find a new place to live. That was the deal: two weeks’ notice. I wished I’d only paid Ross the rent in advance, rather than the rent and utilities combined. I had an appointment to see a place on Saturday morning, but first I was off to meet a distant relative I’d never even heard of before.
I’d spoken to my dad on the phone, and worked out that my great grandmother and this relative’s grandmother had been sisters. I had no idea what that made us. I decided I would be calling her my cousin. Much easier. I met her at the farmer’s market, where she was selling organic bread for the business she and her partner started one or two years ago. The sun was shining, the market was busy, the bread was popular and I felt like I loved Tauranga, despite the weird guy I happened to have moved in with (he’s actually an Aucklander, so it’s not a Tauranga thing). My cousin was lovely. We chatted easily and she gave me a croissant to munch on as she sold loaves and buns and greeted regular and new customers alike. When I left to go and look at the flat I’d arranged to see, she gave me two loaves of sourdough to take with me. Turned out the flat was just around the corner from her place, so we arranged to meet again afterwards.
I drove to the flat and wasn’t really impressed from the outside. Or with the bedroom. But the living room, the kitchen and dining room, and the back garden were lovely. Nowhere near the tastefully appointed rooms at Ross’ place, but spacious and comfortable and light. Then the landlady showed me the other room. They prefer to have couples there, as it’s so big, but they rent it to one person at a reduced rate if necessary. I love it. We chatted, and she and her husband, a friendly couple from New Plymouth, were surprised to hear I’ve only been in Tauranga a week, yet already have a flat that I want to move out of. They asked and I answered honestly, explaining briefly why I wanted to leave Maitland St. They encouraged me to ‘pot’ the landlord, and I left, feeling disappointed because the rent is more than I really wanted to pay, and I’ll probably have to keep looking.
At my cousin’s place, I met the whanau and felt embarrassed when 3 month old baby Ida cried when I said hello. I got a text from the landlady. She made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I said yes, as long as I could meet a flatmate first. So I met AF, a 19 year old electrician’s apprentice, and my new flatmate. He’s refreshingly laid back. I moved in that very afternoon, leaving a note for Ross at Maitland St that I was going away with some friends for a week and I’d be back on Thursday or Friday (I had paid for utilities, after all, and knew I would want to use the phone and internet again).
It was a lonely, but lovely week. I set up my room (again). I went to dinner at my cousin’s place. I met a friend of a friend, another contact to have in Tauranga. I went to the library and applied for jobs. I met the neighbour kids, Harmony and Kanye (really, Kanye!). I sunbathed, I went to the beach, I explored the campus where I’ll be studying. I joined a boot camp exercise group and attended the first two sessions. The cousin lent me her bike, Clara (a sister for Lulu!) and I took it to the bike shop to be serviced. I baked and iced cookies in the shape of dinosaurs, but added too much baking powder and they tasted more like scones than biscuits. I weeded the strawberry patch, picked strawberries, made plum crumble and lemon sorbet.
I went back to Maitland Street. Ross had left the key in the lock on the inside of the door so I couldn’t use my own key to unlock it. So I climbed in the kitchen window, feeling angry, knowing he must have done that on purpose. My room was unlocked (I’d left it locked, although I’d taken everything out of it). He’d made the bed and moved things so it looked as though I’d never been there. The house was a mess.
I put on some washing, used the phone and internet, made myself some dinner. Ross came home and asked me what I was doing there.
I asked him if he’d gotten my note (apparently not, though I don’t know how he missed it), explained that I’d ‘been away’ and was still looking for a new place. He said “Oh.” While I was hanging my washing on the line, he went into my room, stripped the bed of its sheets and pillows and also switched off the modem in the kitchen, implying I shouldn’t be using the wi-fi.
I switched it straight back on again, not feeling the need to explain myself, as he hadn’t explained taking everything (including the duvet, which he’d been happy to let me use the previous week) off my bed.
I took the chance to download the latest episode of Glee, which I had missed while travelling, watched his DVDs (he’d offered the week before) and made a bunch of phone calls. None of this cost him anything, but he was clearly upset. In the morning, I told him I was going camping, would be back on Friday, and was moving out on Saturday. I left my bed made with my own sheets and pillow and blanket, a pair of pyjamas on the bed, some dirty washing in my washing basket, and left. He asked me for the key to the bedroom back. I gave it to him and asked him not to go in my room while I was gone unless it was an emergency.
I took everything else and left. Back at my new place, I felt lonely, but glad that I was nowhere near Ross, and that he had no idea where I was.
Week 2 in Tauranga was over.
- Of no fixed abode (emmalord.wordpress.com)