Tag Archives: sublet

Incidental family

Incidental family

When my landlord decided to lease the guestroom in my house, Gaefan became an incidental member of our family.  When he moved into our lives, I was one year into the divorce process, one year into a job hunt, I was way behind on rent and I was shouldering $80k of credit card debt my ex created by secretly supporting his failing business with my credit cards. Since he used my cards, I was also dodging the phone calls from Citibank.

My parents were retired and lived inTexas.  Still do.  My father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  I was working six part-time jobs and still not able to pay the bills.  I had also started dating a guy fairly regularly.  He was employed, good looking, crude and probably an alcoholic.  Some of my best stories have to do with the Boyfriend Candidate.  He was and is quite something.

So basically, I was busy and panicked.  I had relationships going and coming.  I was trying to keep the lives of my three boys normal, at a level of privilege they had gotten used to, but was impossible to maintain.  The days of immediate gratification and spontaneous generosity were over.  I came up with an empowering action list.  I love lists.

Option 1. Get a job.  I had been a stay-at-home, home-schooling mom to my slightly autistic son.  That would have to end.  He started brick and mortar and I started pounding the pavement.  I submitted my resume to over 500 companies in the 8 months I was out of work.  I had temp jobs that floated me.  I transcribed.  I participated in surveys, and I dated for dinner.  Best of all I started web and blog writing.

Option 2. Get remarried, quickly, to man who would make all our problems go away.  It could happen.  I figured I’d fall in love again one day.  If that day could be today, that would be really convenient.

Option 3. Prepare to move back to Texas.  If 1 and 2 didn’t work out, singularly or in combination, that would be all that was left.  Me and my three would be moving into a three bedroom with my elderly retired parents, one of whom was suffering from dementia.  These are not the warm fuzzy grandparents that I hear other children have.  My mother takes no prisoners and my dad is a mystery.  So finding a job or finding the love of my life was really critical.

So into my very ordered, yet unpredictable life comes Gaefan.  He was all hippie auras and holistic transcendence.  He was so far out there he looped all the way around, back to self-righteous and had no idea.

When I met Gaefan, it was late at night.  I opened the door to a much older man, shaved head, energetic.  I didn’t get any kind of a vibe off him so he seemed safe.  Not a child molester, not a gay pedophile, not hot for me.  No flags.

He was British and had the accent.  Clearly delightful.  I gave him the tour.  We have a yard; he had a dog.  I told him then my children were allergic to dogs so his would need to have limited range.  He seemed ok with that.

And he was in.

Gaefan (pronounced Gavin)

Gaefan (pronounced Gavin)

My introduction to Gaefan (pronounced Gavin) was through a mutual friend.  My friend had discovered Gaefan through her friends who knew him as an incoming theater teacher at a local high school.  He was new to the area, had previously taught in San Francisco, and had no place to live.  In fact, school was starting in a few days and he was living in a trailer in a driveway of an acquaintance of someone who knew someone.

My friend suggested I sublet my guest room to him.

I sort of bristled initially.  My friend is also my landlord so the suggestion to sublet was not entirely a suggestion.  I was, after all, many months behind on rent.

I had to check my bristle. What was it about really?  Yes, it was definitely a message that my space was not really my space.  OK. Message received.  But she really was trying to help, I’m sure of that.  So it was a suggestion that checked a couple of boxes for her.  But why else was I bristling?  Oh maybe the obvious:  a single man, apparently recently divorced (and according to my friend, he was heartbroken) a theater instructor no less, living in my house with me and my three boys under the age of twelve.  There would be no way to separate private, sleeping areas from the common areas.  There would be no way to avoid those times when my children would be home alone with him.  And I could only let my mama bear imagination take over on what his lifestyle might be like and what my kids could be exposed to.  And, if I’m being honest and admitting any kind of subversive optimism, I couldn’t help but have Goodbye Girl thoughts as well.  What if  this was Richard Dreyfus coming to live in my back room, play guitar naked, and be my soul mate?  That really could solve a lot of problems.

In the end I was worried about all the wrong things.

So I received an email from this stranger, capable of all kinds of infractions (or delights) upon humanity, at least in my imagination, and rather than focusing at all on what he said, I got stuck on his sign off.  And I quote,

I am looking forward to meeting you and your family,

Cheers,

Gaefan  (pronounced Gavin)

OK – what the hell kind of affectation is that?  So now I’m expecting not Richard Dreyfus (dammit), but Peter Allen.  Please, I’m LA inoculated.  People with their  creative name changes hardly faze me. But this – this was beyond.  I can’t  imagine going through life having to, nee choosing to, explain my name.   “Gaefan, pronounced Gavin”.  Your whole life, you sign all your letters, your emails, your contracts, your resumes. That is an excellent example of why one might desire to change one’s name to Bob.  In fact, it’s exactly the reason why my son’s names are Jack, Calvin, and Sam.  No explanation needed.  Ever. How many things in life do you have to worry about?  Your name, your label, your first impression, your handle, your moniker should NOT be one of them.

Gaefan?  What is that?  Gallic?  Elfin?  It’s sort of Lord of the Rings, is it not?  It’s even slightly gender neutral, although Gavin reads male.  Oh the questions.

But they would have to wait. At least 24 hours until I met the man.  And he sprinkled his elfin dust over me and changed my life forever.