maarmie's musings

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Life with drama on wheels

Not long after I graduated from high school, I knew I had to move out of my parents' house. I had been working part-time as a cashier at Publix - a Florida grocery chain - since the day I turned 16, but I didn't have any money saved. The only cheap or free place I could think of to go was to Janine.

One day a few months after I graduated, still without plans for college or any interest in plans from my parents, I called her up and asked her if I could come stay with her until I got on my feet. She said she'd have to get dad's permission first, which angered me. I was an adult, and I wanted to escape from dad. I most certainly didn't want someone asking his permission for me to.

I moved out of the house anyway, but I didn't move in with Janine. Instead, I was homeless for three weeks, living with a friend in her car in parking lots at Indian Rocks Beach. I didn't really mind being homeless - even sleeping in the car wasn't so bad. The only things I didn't like were life without a shower in the Florida heat and wearing a dirty uniform to work every day.

Three weeks into homelessness, my friend and I had saved money, and we moved into a one-room holiday rental with two double beds and a stove and refrigerator. We paid $70 a week each - a hefty price in 1990 for one room. We lived across a walkway from the owners, and we were under their very watchful eyes. They laid down strict rules of conduct for us that included "no male visitors." After we broke more than a few rules, we were tossed out and rented a slightly bigger studio apartment just down the road. After we broke more than a few rules there (I've never SEEN so many cockroaches in one place), we were tossed out yet again.

Lucky for me, I had reconnected with abusive first boyfriend by then (insert sarcasm here), so I moved in with him. My friend moved back home to go to college. After boyfriend dumped me, I moved back home for a short time, then back out and into the converted front porch. I was there about a year then moved in with a workmate and his sister. He and I moved to a few different places, and his girlfriend moved in with us when we rented a really nice two bedroom off Gulf-to-Bay in Clearwater. She quickly got pregnant, and they decided to break the lease and move in with her mother. So I was stuck with nowhere to live and only months before I was going to leave for Florida State University. I turned to Janine again.

This time, she let me come and stay with her and my half brother, Eric, then 18. I was to share Janine's bedroom and bed and pay a third of the rent and bills.

Things seemed OK after I moved in, but I could tell Janine was a bit depressed. I was busy with work and college, so I wasn't aware of the major downward spiral. Either that, or it came on quite quickly, but, three weeks after I moved in, Janine decided to go check herself into the nearest mental hospital for a nice weekend of rest and relaxation. The day after she left, her son thought it would be nifty to have a major street party and invite the neighbourhood juvenile delinquents over for some very public alcohol and violence. I came home from college as the party was just gearing up and headed straight to Janine's bedroom to watch TV. Not long after, Eric and his buddies ran in the house and headed straight for Eric's room. Cue the police pounding on the doors and windows and yelling for Eric to open the door.

Knowing that Eric was cultivating some very tasty pot on the roof, I told him to answer the door but not to let the police in the house. I stayed in the bedroom while Eric opened the front door. Of course, the police just barged their way into the house, permission or not, and started screaming at all the boys to sit down and shut the fuck up.

I stayed in the bedroom for about 10 minutes deciding whether or not to go out there. The party had nothing to do with me, and I didn't want to get involved. But I figured the cops would likely be searching the house soon, so I figured it was best to show myself. The second I stepped out into the living room, the cops were screaming at me to sit down and grilling me for my age and accusing me of contributing to the delinquency of minors and threatening to take me to jail. My scumbag half brother just sat there and let me take it and would've likely let me go to jail had Janine's sister not phoned at that precise moment. I answered the phone crying, and she wanted to know what was wrong. She didn't even know that Janine had left, and she came right over to get me.


I stayed with my aunt for a week or less before I moved into the hotel at which I had been working. I lived at the hotel until I went away to FSU. Finally, I got to just work and concentrate on my studies. No bullshit. It was heaven.

Not long after I moved into the hotel, Janine, who had not contacted me since she came home to find me gone, cruised by the hotel to try and squeeze some money out of me for the bills. Considering I had paid a third of a month's rent to stay in her house for three weeks and considering I almost got arrested during that time because of her dickhead son, I basically told her to fuck off.

I didn't have contact with her again for a very long time.

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