Once upon a time, I blindly moved into a mad house. I am optimistic, impulsive, and naive, which can make a terrible combination. I moved in with two flight attendants who claimed they were hardly ever home. Perfect, I thought. Far from it.
They were both dating criminals who had done jail time. One of these boyfriends literally had six children with six different women and he would sometimes bring a kid to come hang out at the house, even when his girlfriend wasn’t there. One day I woke up and there was cat food all over the kitchen. We didn’t have a cat. Or so I thought. “Chris got me a little baby kitten last night. How do you feel?” Not great, roommate. Not great.
The other boyfriend would be loud and rowdy late into the night. As I thought about asking him to keep it down because it was 11 pm on a Sunday, he starts yelling at his girlfriend (my roommate) that he “doesn’t give a fuck, I’ve already been to jail, I’m not afraid to kill someone!” So I refrained and stayed locked in my room.
When I wasn’t locking myself in my room, I found any excuse to go out. I’d go out for food, for drinks, anything. With any and everyone I could find. Anything was better than being home. So I stopped cooking meals for myself to avoid common areas like the kitchen. I ate out all the time. I drank too much. Then I’d be hungover the next day and live off McDonald’s hash browns to pull myself together for work. I was gaining weight and wasting money rapidly. It was a bad downward spiral.
One day I couldn’t take it anymore. I told my coworker I HAD to move out but I didn’t know where to go that didn’t have roommates but was still in my price range. He had an answer for me. If I believed in miracles, this was it.
In his bachelor days, he bought a house, turned the basement into a one-bedroom apartment and lived there while he rented out the upstairs to earn some extra income. Now that he’s married (thanks to my match-making!) he’s moved in with her and the basement is available to rent – for $300 a month plus $50 for utilities. For reference, to live alone with all the space and amenities that this place had would easily be $1000+ for rent and utilities.
“CAN I PLEASE COME SEE IT IMMEDIATELY AFTER WORK TODAY!!??!?!?!”
I saw it on a Tuesday and moved out that Saturday.
After I moved out, one of the roommates texted me to ask if her boyfriend ever brought girls home while she was away. Not that I knew of, why? Apparently, his drug addicted cousin kept telling her that Chris was bringing a homeless woman that begs at a specific intersection back to our house during the day to hook up and let her shower. WHILE I WAS WORKING! She wasn’t sure what to believe because “you can’t always trust drug addicts, ya know?” Thank God I got out of there.
My private entrance to the basement was through the garage and down a set of stairs. However, the people the live upstairs are hoarders so the garage is stuffed from floor to ceiling with the most random crap with a small walkway for me to get in and out. Not ideal but it was a small sacrifice for a peaceful and affordable place to live!
I made the basement as homey as possible and affectionately named it The Bunker. It was my safe haven from the world. Nothing bad happened down there, mostly because no one ever came to visit me and I was rarely home, but still. It was my quiet space where I could block out the world. There was only an egress window in the bedroom so most of the time you couldn’t tell what time of day or what season it was down there. There was so much space though just for me. I no longer felt uncomfortable or confined to my bedroom avoiding the crazies.
I was so relieved and I will always be thankful for The Bunker.
Despite its unconventional ways, I wanted to stay at the Bunker for as long as possible because it was so cheap. Imagine all the money I could save! As most incredible financial opportunities I’ve been granted in my life, I have very little to show for it. Although I wasn’t going out as much as I had been, I didn’t stick to a strict budget. And I went through 3 months of unemployment, which ate my savings. But I did pay off my car, which was a great start.
Unfortunately, The Bunker gradually became not worth the price. It was about 30 minutes away from my social life, which meant I was driving an hour round trip several nights a week if I wanted to see anyone. No one ever wanted to come down to The Bunker. That became draining and it was disappointing how judgmental people could be about my unconventional living space.
As time went on, natural wear and tear made The Bunker harder to live in. The garage door antenna stopped recognizing a signal so I had to walk through the backyard in the snow and mud and into the dark garage’s side door just to get to my entryway.
Then the shower started leaking. Every single time I showered, it would leak out the bottom and flood my bathroom. I had to lay down towels before each shower and then wring them out and throw them in the dryer afterward. Not only was that process extensive, the mildew began to smell and I dreaded showering. And the landlord’s contractor wasn’t going to be available for months.
Then mice started taking over my kitchen and I completely lost all composure until they were gone. I had never killed anything bigger than a spider before and I hope to never have to do that again.
A few months later, my friend offhandedly mentioned that because he had moved in with his girlfriend, I should move into the house he owns since no one was there. Even if I paid him what I was paying for The Bunker, it would still help offset his mortgage. So we negotiated a slightly higher rate and I moved out shortly after. While it was wonderful to move above ground with windows and a working shower, The Bunker will always have a fond spot in my heart as a safe haven from a lot of rough times.