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What A Difference

May 20, 2007

Our absentee landlords arrived in the area late on Wednesday; Thursday was Ascension day. I celebrated with another headache, this time bad enough to make me nauseated. As I stood steaming my head over the electric kettle (a wonderful invention – every home should have one!) I heard some shouting at our gate.

Thankfully, despite my sick headache I’d changed out of my pajamas because it was our newly arrived landlord. What I hadn’t done was anything else. I hadn’t put away the groceries, washed dishes, cleaned the stove, put away the laundry or taken out the trash. I’m not exactly a neat freak, but the house was a disaster even by my standards.

I welcomed him and explained that I had a migraine and R was still abed battling to sleep after several days’ insomnia. He was ‘on the fly’ and just wanted to check in. I stood with the heel of my hand pressed hard against my brow, hoping that my skull would cave in.

“Do you have our number?” He asked

“Um…no, not the local one.” I said. I knew where this is going. I would have to get a pen, and I couldn’t tell him to wait outside.

“I’ll give it to you.”

“Um, okay. Well, come in, the house is a wreck because I’ve been fighting with my head…” I start to explain.

He shrugs and cuts me off, “It’s your house now.”

Back in Greece I panicked every time our landlords or neighbors appeared. I knew that no matter how clean and neat the place was, there would be something that they would not only see, but comment on. If the floors were clean, the stairs were dusty, if the stairs were clean, the sink needed scrubbing, if the sink was clean, the balconies needed to be hosed, and if all else was perfect, there were always the fingerprints on the doors.

And while one would think that with such picky landlords the house would be in perfect condition, the rain coming under the front door, the thirty year old sofa with torn upholstery, the sprung and mildewed mattress, and the water pouring out of the fuse box in the living room would tell the truth.

So, while this house is certainly no palace, it is probably more livable than the Greek houses we rented. It doesn’t hurt that I’m not afraid of my landlord, either.

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