"tony? tony?" i heard a faint voice from the living room as i opened my blinds. i thought i was going crazy. "yes?" i called out, but there was no answer. moments later i heard a knocking from my backdoor. it was paul, with a worried look on his face. "sorry for bothering you, but do you have any water pressure in your house?" he asked. i said i was doing some laundry. "would that do it? i turned on my kitchen sink and there was hardly any pressure." i assured him that once the washing machine fills up, water pressure will be back to normal. he was down in the basement expecting to see a burst pipe. it's funny, we've lived together in the same house for so many years, he should know by now that this is how our ancient plumbing works.
ana asked me to open a child-proof pill bottle for her. apparently they don't have these back in spain. it gave me the chance to ask her what her plans were for today. i learned that her flight isn't actually 5pm but rather 3pm. which meant at the latest she'd probably have to leave by noontime. she told me her sister-in-law was coming later to help her pack.
so this morning was a combination of washing machine noises, ana's laptop tuned in to some noisy spanish broadcast, the smell of espresso coffee, and the warmth of the courtesy heat that i turned on. by 10:30am ana had already all her things gathered up either in suitcases or plastic bags. i gave her some cardboard boxes to help with her move. i'd never had a roommate with this much stuff (although she had been living here in the US for more than a year now, which would explain the accumulation). around 11am her sister-in-law showed up and i helped them pack her stuff into the back of a sports utility vehicle. ana gave me a hug and told me if i'm ever in spain to let her know. with that she was gone and i returned to an empty house.
alfonso got in touch with me last night, told me a friend was helping him move tonight at 8pm. that gave me about 9 hours to prepare for his arrival. i first went through the house looking for anything ana might've left behind. as messy as she is, she also cleans up like nobody's business. maybe it was because she had someplace to donate anything she couldn't bring back (i.e. her brother), unlike past roommates, so there was virtually nothing of hers left in the house. if i didn't tell you, you would've never known she lived here, her cleaning was that thorough. still, they always leave behind something.
i could only find 3 things that ana definitely left behind: a can of bread crumbs, a glass espresso cup, and a jar of bay leaves. there was a package of dental floss and some measuring cups that i thought were hers but they also might be mine, i just can't remember. the espresso cup is a nice, but i'm ready to return it to her brother since it's their espresso machine, and the cup might be part of a set. but if they don't ask for it, i'll just end up keeping it and adding it to my collection of misfit chalices.
then there were a few things i found in the trash. technically i wouldn't consider them things-roommates-leave-behind™, but they're interesting nevertheless. they're all bathroom items.
ana made a mess of my oven range while she lived here. at some point she baked something in the oven that pretty much exploded and covered everything in gunk. this was the perfect opportunity to use the self-cleaning feature of my oven. not only would it bake everything in the oven to powdery dust, but it'd also heat up the house in the process. so i went ahead and initiated the self-clean.
that's when i had my accident. i wanted to clean the area below the range top, where oil and food debris had accumulated. in order to do that i had to remove the stainless steel surface. all was fine until i decided to place the cooktop on a table, and somehow grabbed the edge that was up against the oven exhaust a few minutes earlier. big mistake. the air from the oven exhaust comes out to something around 500°F, so was the temperature of the metal edge i just grabbed onto. i immediately dropped it, and was busy adjusting the oventop when i realized i should be running my burned fingers under cold running water instead. i damaged three fingers, but primarily the index finger, where a painful blistering welt had formed. lesson learned the hard way!
one handed, i still managed to clean the oven top. i also cleaned the racks in the sink (with a brillo pad). i did a load of laundry while the oven was self-cleaning, and vacuumed the floors as well. i also put on the bedsheet and duvet cover in the guest bedroom. i noticed the floors were kind of scratched up, courtesy of ana, who for some reason didn't like the bedroom carpet and rolled it up underneath the bed. the carpet is there to protect the wooden floor! so much for that idea. but nothing that a little polish can't fix (maybe).
the burners themselves were also dirty, but those i'm going to clean through chemistry, by putting them in a garbage bag with some ammonia.
the rest of the day was a restless countdown. it wasn't bad when i had plenty of hours, but as the day crept closer to 8pm, i began to get anxious. i'd met alfonso before and he seemed like a nice guy, but you never know until you live with a person, their idiosyncrasies. having lived with a bad roommate for so long, it was hard to imagine any good roommates.
i baked a french bread pizza in the oven at 6pm and went to go take a shower. i ate while watching the national news broadcast on ABC. it was already so warm in the house from the oven cleaning (69°) that the heat never did kick in. i should self-clean the oven more often!
alfonso didn't arrive until 8:30pm. the wait felt so long that it seems like ana's departure was days ago, instead of just this morning. by then there was a steady rain outside as alfonso and his friend brought in some wet luggage. thankfully his friend had a car, i was afraid they were going to bring his belongings via public transportation. his friend left soon afterwards, the car double-parked outside the house. alfonso paid me right away, a farcry from ana who didn't pay me until a week after she'd already moved in. there was a familiarity between alfonso and i, despite having only met briefly once before. when he left to get some groceries (supermarket conveniently located across the street, i let him borrow an umbrella because it was raining), i showed him the secret of how to open/lock my front door.
from the groceries that he got, i could tell he was a healthy eater. he even bought a gallon container of bottled water. he told me that before he came to the US, he suffered a kidney stone (apparently it runs in his family) which delayed his arrival. we chatted as he cooked up a steak with some olive oil. gentle sautÃ©ing too, with the cover on, unlike ana, who splattered everywhere. this was his first time in the US, not counting a visit to orlando disneyworld with his parents when he was a little kid. his research at MGH is melanomas, his specialty is oncology. he asked if i liked movies, apparently he's a big movie buff (not so much american television though, although he is a fan of homeland). he seemed ecstatic when i told him i had netflix.
he ate in the living room and we continued chatting. just his steak, some potato chips, and a glass of water. i found out he's only 29 years old, and still doing his residency. he comes from ourense, galicia (spain), went to university at santiago de compostela, now doing his residency in madrid. he can speak galego (galician), which he learned in school. when i showed him HBO on demand (all seasons of game of thrones!), he lost all interest in netflix.
after he finished dinner, he changed into his pajamas (and finally took off his shoes). i was surprised to see him in thick glasses, his prescription is almost as bad as mine, he told me he's worn glasses since age 5. despite typically waking up at 7am to go to MGH, he still goes to bed around midnight. i told him i set up the heat so it'd go off at 6:45am so he'd wake up to a toasty house.
i think i'm going to get along well with alfonso. just too bad he's only here for 3 weeks. i'd totally let him stay for a few months easily. that got me thinking: he has a colleague coming to boston january-march; if his colleague is anything like alfonso, i'll totally let him stay, despite saying no when alfonso asked me a week ago. if i can make it happen, i'll take the rent money and go vacation in china for a month or two! which reminds me: have to renew my visa!