Monday, June 18, 2007


I’ve been trying to figure out how to phrase this, but nothing’s coming to mind, so I’ll just sack up and say it:

I’m moving out of the Merry Mansion.

Those of you expecting the Drama Llama to become bloated with greasy bits of gossip will be sorely disappointed, I’m afraid, as there are no such tidbits to offer. This is an entirely amicable decision, and there will be no tear-soaked, blame-filled entries. I’ve got nothing bad to say about K---she truly is my “sister from another mister”---and hopefully she feels the same way about me.

This is a decision that was not arrived at lightly or recently; we’ve been kicking around the idea for some time. I knew I’d better start scoping out potential places as soon as possible, because I’m a major procrastinator. I figured if I waited too long, I’d wind up frantically finding a place to live about a week before moving out of my old digs, and I didn’t want to settle for a total shithole just because I needed immediate housing.

I knew that I wanted to stay in the town where we currently live, so on my days off, I went looking. Man, that was a freakin’ adventure, let me tell you. One place had a really cool retro façade, but when I walked through the gates, it turned from kitsch to krap. Another place had a skeletonized rat or mouse about two feet away from the manager’s office. (Needless to say, I didn’t bother even going inside.) I won’t even mention all the places that were nice but overpriced. If they’re going to have the gall to charge $1700 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, it damn well better come with weekly maid service, on-call massages, and a live-in pastry chef.

But then, one afternoon, fate intervened.

I was leaving the library one afternoon, and because they were doing road construction on the main road, I decided to take an alternate route. I never use this other street, so I didn’t realize there were several apartment buildings there as well. I made a mental note to check them out, and then I thought, “What the hell, I’ll stop right now.” I parked and walked into the manager’s office of the first building, and she gave me a brief tour of the grounds. They were well-kept, and the pool was huge, clean, and beautiful.

“You said you were looking for a one-bedroom, right?” she asked.


“Those usually fill up pretty fast, but we do have two available right now.” She led me up a walkway and into a bright, sunny upstairs apartment. It was certainly nothing fancy, but it was surprisingly roomy for a one-bedroom---certainly more so than the ones I’d already seen---and had lots of natural light and a ton of storage space. The kitchen was pretty small, but since my idea of cooking involves poking holes in the plastic covering a Lean Cuisine, that wasn’t really an issue.

“I love it!” I said, running my hands over the countertop. “How much is it?”

She quoted me a price that was at the low end of my budget. “That includes $25 for cable,” she added.

“It’s just about perfect,” I said. “I have to talk to my current roommate, of course, but I’m definitely interested.”

“That’s fine, and I don’t want to rush you, but I’d suggest you get in as soon as possible. Like I said, the one-bedrooms fill up pretty fast, and this one would almost certainly be the first to go.”

“Oh, why’s that?” I asked curiously as we walked outside.

She locked the door, jiggled the knob, and said, “No neighbors.”

Cracka say what?!?

It was only then that I realized what she said was true. Because of the weird way the building was laid out, this particular apartment had no apartments on either side. One below, and one across, but NO NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBORS.

“Did I say just about perfect? I meant perfect,” I said.

For weeks, I fretted about that apartment; surely it would be gone before I could get to it! Finally, I asked K if she would be okay with me moving out a little sooner than expected, and she said that was fine. I immediately dropped off the application and kept my fingers crossed.

And last week, I signed the lease.

Now that I’ve filled you in, the trick is to recap the last six years of living with K.

When we moved out here in June 2001, I was about as green as they get. Moving 2000 miles away from my family was a colossal step for me; I mean, sure, I was 2000 miles away from them when I went to college, but that was such a hothouse environment that it doesn’t even count. I was scared as hell, worried about all those grown-up things like paying bills and making rent, but I was confident that everything would work out fine. I NEVER would have had the courage to move here if I didn’t have K by my side, and for that I will always be grateful.

Oh, don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t perfect 100% of the time. Of course we had fights and disagreements, but what roommates don’t? Considering that we were in each other’s pockets so much of the time---keep in mind that we also work in the same building!---I think we did pretty damn well. K is one of the best friends I’ve ever had, and you don’t throw a friendship like that away over petty shit like who forgot to buy trash bags. We’ve both had major highs and enormous heartbreaks since we’ve lived here, and we’ve always backed each other’s play. That’s what friends do, after all.

Last night, I was sitting at the kitchen table, playing yet another round of Alchemy, when K walked over and said, “Dude, look what I found!”

“Oh my god!” I screamed, taking the photo from her.

The picture was taken shortly before we moved to California; if I remember correctly, we were at TGIFriday’s, having farewell drinks with our friend L. I can honestly say that it’s pretty much the worst picture ever taken of me, and believe me, it’s got some hearty competition for that title. K is resting her chin on her hand, giving the camera a Mona Lisa smile; I’m looking sideways at her with a truly evil grin on my shiny drunken face. We look like we’re planning something devious. We didn’t know at the time what the future would hold. We didn’t know that the move out here would be so horrific that we’d consider turning around more than once. We didn’t know about 9/11, or the boyfriends that would break our hearts, or the struggles to pay bills and keep our shit together. We didn’t know that we would eventually find amazing men, or the beauty of a California sunset as viewed over the Pacific.

All we knew was that we couldn’t wait to get there.