Ah, Oakland: Homeless edition

After my first year of living in Oakland, life had changed significantly. I had three new tattoos, I was single and a massage therapist and I had no idea what I was going to do next. Roomie and I had planned on moving into a new place in Greenfield, a small-town like place right outside of Oakland. Most of the inhabitants were middle income to no collar people who kept to themselves.

We had toured a duplex with three bedrooms and found another roommate. The new roommate was on the annoying side, but we needed another body, so there you go. The place needed new carpeting and to be repainted, but the landlord had promised it’d be done before we moved in. We set our moving date and he said he’d meet us there with our keys.

On moving day, Roomie and I unloaded the old place and drove the few miles to our new place. The landlord wasn’t there. He wasn’t answering his phone, either. We peeked in the windows and saw that the place was an absolute mess. The carpet hadn’t been changed yet, the walls hadn’t been painted… what was going on?

Somehow, I don’t remember, we ended up getting into the house and started to bring all of our things in, but it wasn’t until well after 10 that night and we were exhausted, so we passed out wherever we fell.

The next morning, the landlord showed up and he was pissed, asking us why we were there and what we were doing. We explained to him that he was late and that we had no where else to go, since we left our other place. We pulled out our lease and showed him that he promised us the carpet, the painting and the move in date. He got on the defensive and was making absolutely no sense and Roomie and I started to get uncomfortable. We didn’t like this situation whatsoever and thought that we should just get out of the lease and find some place else to live. This guy was nuts!

So we rounded up a moving truck and within an hour we had our stuff packed and were hauling it to a storage unit.

We were officially homeless.

Where do homeless people go? TGI Fridays. My boss felt so bad for us that he bought us dinner and we sat in the booth for hours feeling sorry for ourselves. Then we started laughing, realizing that when we left Fridays, we had no where else to go.

As I said, I was single. And here’s the rub – the ex was still roommates with my best friend. Insult to injury, Lifelong Friend was also their roommate, now. I didn’t know who else to ask. So on a whim, I called One of the Guys who happened to have a roommate who was gone for the summer. He said we were more than welcome to stay until we found a place, which we promised wouldn’t be long.

We got to his apartment and Roomie and I crashed on the couch. We were feeling all kinds of empty with all of our belongings in a storage unit and our dignity slipping away. Not to mention, I was finally feeling like a royal bitch for how I broke up with Ex because I shouldn’t have had to stay at One of the Guys’ apartments. I should have been able to stay with Ian and Lifelong.

Roomie and I went our separate ways the next day to find a place. She found a great two bedroom right outside of downtown Pittsburgh, bordering the Hill District. The Hill isn’t a good place to be and this place was only two bedrooms. The third roommate was still in Eastern PA for a few weeks, and missed all the madness, but we couldn’t just ditch her like that. So I told Roomie to take it and I’d find a single place.

On my afternoon run, I passed by Ian’s apartment. The whole street was lined with apartment buildings and on the leasing office was a huge sign saying that there were still apartments for rent. Sweaty, I went into the building and asked to be shown what they had vacant.

I settled on a studio in a building that was once a hotel. The first level was all businesses, including a liquor store and a pizza shop. There was a bus stop right on the corner and a laundry mat across the street. There was a Giant Eagle, too. It seemed like a brilliant place to live. So I put down a deposit and set the move in date.

During the day this place seemed OK. My best friends lived across the street, I was in North Oakland, which is typically where older Pitt students live, I had a ‘secure’ building and I wasn’t homeless. It all looked good.

But, at night… the corner was not only the bus stop, but a drug deal zone. There was a homeless guy who slept in the stairwell and hearing gun shots wasn’t uncommon. But oddly, I felt safe. I had three locks on my door and a security chain. And I was 18, so obviously, I was invincible.

It all worked out, though. In the short amount of time I spent in that apartment, my life changed even more than before. I owe a lot to that apartment. And the homeless guy in the stairwell. And CSI.

Until next time.


About Cassie

Two sisters from two misters. What could be more fun?

Posted on March 27, 2011, in Cassie. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. It’s a good thing that these instances so often happen when we’re young and flexible. I could have dealt with that when I was 18. If it happened now, I’d be forced to set that place on fire.

  2. I cannot WAIT to read what CSI has to do with the next installment of this story.

  3. I’m loving these stories! And I’m so with Bluz. At 18-22 I could have dealt with this. Heck, I stayed in hostels. But now, I need a real house and hotels. But hey, I’m glad I had those experiences!

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