Friday, February 15, 2013

Start to Change

Life became so meaningless after that. Nothing looked good and nothing tasted good anymore. I became impatient and cold. I started to find that everywhere in our apartment house was dirty. I cleaned and scrubbed everywhere. Then, it became dirty and messy again. I started to complain to everyone to clean up after themselves “It’s clean everywhere, if you don’t think it’s clean enough, then you clean it yourself,” they said. I couldn’t sleep well at night. Little noises started to bother me a lot. Hua came back at midnight as usual, but the girl who loved him started waiting up for him and cooking for him, which made even more noise since they talking. My bedroom was next to the bathroom. I started to complain that they made too much noise at night especially the girl. She seemed so overjoyed, so proud of herself. I could not stand for her disrespect and messiness anymore. She was the youngest girl in her family even though she was a few years older than I was. Her sloppiness made me angry. “If you use my pots, wash them right away, don’t just soak them until I need to use them and I have to wash them for you.” “Don’t dump your tea leaves in the sink. They are going to clog the drain.” “Wrap your sanitary napkins with toilet paper; nobody wants to see your blood,” I complained to her.
     One weekends, her friend came all the way from Cornell University to see her. He was a visiting scholar for a year and would go back to China soon. He made the trip to see her, and for some site-seeing. I never saw a worse host. She practically left him alone in the house without any help while chasing after Hua. She treated him like he had not come to see her and like they were not even friends. Her friend was very embarrassed and ready to go back right away. So I told him, don’t worry. I don’t mind your staying. You should take the opportunity to see a little of city. I could cook extra food for you so you don’t have to spend extra money to eat outside. So, he agreed. But his car did not cooperate. He went back disappointed.
     We all saw how much she tried to impress him and tried to show everyone, especially me, that they had something going and I didn’t really care. One morning though, I think it was on a weekend, three of us were eating our breakfast. She decided to open Hua’s bedroom door and went inside to wake him up for breakfast. Oh, he was upset. He shouted, “get out, get out my bedroom.” She ran into her own room crying. We did not see her the whole day.
     I sympathized with her that she tried to make the effort to win his love. I tried to tell her best friend to tell her that she didn’t have to worry about me, I was not interested in her Hua. She shouldn’t go so low to please a man. She had always changed her sleeping gown whenever she was home and she didn’t even close her door or window curtains when she was changing. We did have another man whom she was not interested in living in the house. He was middle aged and married back in China. I didn’t think that it was proper. I was sure that men could enjoy seeing her transparent gown, but I didn’t.
     For a period of time, we got strange calls from someone. He would only talk if a girl picked up the phone. Of course every time, she picked it up. She was so scared and hung up the phone right away and it was the stranger again. I told her that she should close the curtain in her room window. She said that she did not think it was the man in the other house. They talked some time by their window because the two windows were on opposite and so close to each other. I was sure that he saw her through that window. Finally, we told the two men in our house. Hua, of course, immediately asked me if there was someone strange in the Chinese restaurant where I worked on Friday nights and that I should stop working there. I was furious, “Strangers? I work in the kitchen with the husband, and his wife waits on the table". I implied that he should check her instead. Then, I got the same call for the first time. I said, “no.” He said, “$250” and adding more each time and I said, “no.” I said, “no, you got the wrong number. No one here in this house is interested. So please don’t call us again". I told him not to waste money on sex, but instead he should invest in love which was priceless. I didn’t know if it was because of what I said or the man was tired of calling but he didn’t call again. Marjorie and Lucille suggested that I should blow a loud whistle into the phone the next time. I just thought that the man was confused. He did not know that money couldn’t buy love. He needed to find real love on his own.
     The girl in our house was on my nerves even more when she found out that my ex-boyfriend in Japan returned to China married. She thought I would be a real threat to her now since she knew Hua was trying to impress me behind her back and trying to hinder their relationship. She waited until he came back, and he was back later and later in the middle of the night or early morning. I felt sorry that she had to get up early while working as a research assistant in the lab for her professor while pursuing her degree. I could feel that she was deliberately making noises by slamming the bathroom door or going into the bathroom quite often, or walking around noisily, just to get back at me for whatever Hua was doing to her.
     Finally, I had a perfect chance to get even. She always forgot this or that, or lost this or that. So while I was home alone one evening, Hua had gone for a business trip; I am not sure where the other guy was. She went out to visit her friend and forgot her keys. It was not very late, probably 8 or 8:30 PM. She returned knocking on the door downstairs and calling me to open the door. I just pretended that I had fallen asleep. She went back to her girlfriend’s house and spent the night there. The next morning about 7:30 am, she and her girlfriend came together knocking on the door and calling my name. So, I went down and opened the door for them. “I’m sorry, I must have been sound asleep last night and didn’t hear anything.” She and I both knew that I did that on purpose. She cried to Hua when he walked in the house, blamed me for hiding her key and not allowing her into the house while he was gone. I just had it up to my neck.
     I did not move out earlier because this house was the closest to my office and the price was the best I could find in the neighborhood. I told Marjorie and Lucille that I would like to move into their friend Kathryn’s house if a room was still available. I did not want to move into her house even through I knew she was Marjorie and Lucille’s lifelong friend since college, just a few houses down the street from the house I lived. Now I did not have any other options. I could be alone there, even though I would have to pay more each month. I would be crazy to stay where I was.
     Kathryn was an Afro-American widow. She and her husband were well educated. Her husband had a good job to which he devoted all his life. He died around 60 years old, left Kathryn alone with the house. She rented out a bedroom to student. The house was very quiet. She lived there alone most of the time. Her grandchildren sometimes came to visit her. I treated myself to a 13-inch color TV with a remote control. Often I watched TV until I fell asleep. I found that whenever I was stressed out, it was best for me to take a nap in my quiet room.
    Soon after I moved in, Kathryn got a big fluffy dog and named him Bud. I really liked that dog. It gave me a reason to go out and take him for a walk. I didn’t have to stay home or feel that I didn’t have anything to do with any leisure time. The problem was it was a farm dog and was not well trained to live in a small space in a city. He often ran away and couldn’t find his way home. Every time he ran away, we eventually found him. He was so dirty and hungry. But then, he was gone again. Finally, he was gone and never came back. We looked and looked, I even took her grandchildren with me to the cemetery next to the house looking and calling for Bud.  He was gone and I was very sad.  I even dreamed that he had returned.