Gentrifying the Living Room


I am settling into my new place. The other tenants are alrite, but they didn’t know each other coming in and so there was no organization or rules in place when I entered the mix. I don’t dislike any of them, but they all present a unique set of challenges:

There is Tanya, an Indian girl who is the first one who really opened up to me when she saw me taking the intiative and cleaning the bathroom. Her boyfriend, Mayank is over all the time and he’s cool and outgoing and friendly.

Although he did just try to sell me Amway!

Keith is a hilarious motherfucker. I heard him before I met him -sitting in his room playing League of Legends screaming FUCK!!. The walls are thin and so I took umbrage the first night and felt personally disrespected. After a certain point I went to knock on his door and he came out to greet me. I didn’t say anything about the cursing because I think it is important to say as little as possible.
Instead I introduced myself and asked him what he was up to. He told me LoL, and while I suspected that he suspected I was there to complain about the noise, neither of us addressed it and he eagerly invited me in to see the computer set-up he was quite proud of. He is skinny and young with long-hair and nothing at all like the abrasive, dominance-minded tyrant I had pictured in my head. I’ve subsequently run into him at the gym where he goes to climb. I think we’ll get along well.

Then there’s Deryk; big jock-type dude who is a sweetheart but whom I don’t think is acutely aware of how sound travels in this house. It’s ok we’re working through it, as will be seen.

Then there’s John; not a tenant but our resident guy on the couch.

He is Deryk’s buddy and I get it -I have been that guy for like, years. I wanna be clear, I have no problem with John. I like John. I love John, because I am John. He kind of took up the love-seat in our unfurnished living room for the last while before I moved in I guess, but the problem is/was that I got plans for this living room and in short order I cleaned the garbage and shoe rack out of it and mopped it. Then today I acquired a coffee table from the downstairs tenant, Tyler and as such reorganized the sofa. Now it’s a Living Room; I am literally sitting here with my feet up on my coffee table looking out my picture window.

Admittedly it needs some work.

I like spending time here now, and that brings me back to John. He walked in this evening with Deryk after coming back from the gym and had this look of disappointment in his eyes when he saw Mayank, Tanya and I sitting here enjoying the living room he had been sleeping in, I felt bad but I kind of anticipated this because I spent the evening on the couch last night and it occurred to me that he might have had to find other accommodations.

I don’t want to displace him, but the benefit of having this common space kind of outweighs the bad. For example, my room is right next to the bathroom and when people shower, the pipes in the wall next to my head as I lie on my bed are deafening. However, now that I have a couch to sit on and work from in the evening, I can be comfortable and in (relative) quiet while the roomies are going through their evening routine.

The best part of all this is I never told John to leave. And truthfully he is still welcome. If he wanted to go through the rigor of asking I would be happy to get my air mattress for him and set him up in the kitchen, but I think he wanted low-hanging fruit for a crash, and I get that behaviour because I have demonstrated that behaviour in the past.

Funnily enough, Deryk, whom I have felt some resentment toward for callous noise-making, and whom I expected to fight me on the gentrification of the living room his friend was squatting in, has been cool. When John got himself a ride to another friend’s place after seeing his favourite squat had been turned into a Starbucks, Deryk actually opened up and intiated a conversation with me -something he had never done before. I had spent the whole time thinking that by exploring the space I was asserting myself against Deryk’s unchecked expansion –and maybe I was– but perhaps I was also liberating him by obliquely saying “no” through more intentional, deliberate and purposeful occupation of the space.

Intentional, deliberate, purposeful occupation the space! That’s a big idea right there, and it occurred to me on many a dancefloor while vying for space. BIG EGO Andre used to take it personally when my space on the dancefloor was being encorached upon or someone bumped into me -like how dare someone dance in front of me or in my bubble?; little ego andre sees that the best way to occupy space is to OCCUPY SPACE, and if you can’t occupy it effectively that means you got too much. Period.

“Loiterers should be arrested!”

I’ve had some reservations about living here this past week as a result of adjustment pains, but *just knocked on wood* I feel as good as I’ve ever felt tonight. I feel like people are starting to see what I see as far as what is possible in this place and I am starting to see them and what they have to offer.


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