It’s been exactly one year since I wrote this. I’m still living here. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), yesterday I came home to a long note on my door from Norman’s widow, Sue.
My living “situation” (or whatever you want to call it) has been pretty strange in the past year. Mostly just confusing, actually. It goes a little something like this:
I live in a little cottage behind a bigger house, where Norman and Sue lived.
I’ve been on a month-to-month lease for three years now. After Norman died, I missed a few months’ rent (partly due to confusion over whom to pay it, partly due to me not being able to afford it and sticking my head in the sand) and then started paying rent to “The Estate of Norman Ganter” via a lawyer. I’ve been paying the back rent gradually, in addition to my normal rent, each month.
More confusing stuff: Norman and Sue had been together for many years, but had only married a month or so before his death. Everyone thought that Norman didn’t have a will, and then they found some really old will from before Norman and Sue had even met. I don’t know what was in it.
Norman has three children from previous marriages, one of which, Yurgi, was appointed as “Administrator of the estate.” He lives in New York.
It’s taken me an entire year to glean these little scraps of information. Meanwhile, the property, which is large and picturesque, but dilapidated, has been the subject of all sorts of confusing claims (Yurgi’s lawyer, mentioned above, is one Robert F. Ruehl, whom everyone seems to abhor. He tells me the house is “cash poor”).
Our washer / dryer hasn’t worked in at least two years; our fireplace has never worked; there’s been power outages (Yurgi didn’t pay the bills) and water outages (broken and / or frozen pipes) and snowy driveways.
During the winter, I managed to apply for and receive heating assistance, and had the cottage insulated and sealed, and a new thermostat installed, all for free, all of my own doing.
Sue, who has lived in the big house for several years, has understandably been inconsolable since Norman died. From what I can tell, Norman’s kids want this property, no one knows who’s entitled to it, and Robert F. Ruehl is a jerk.
That’s pretty much the total amount of information she’s given me.
All this brings me up to date, as much as possible, to the present day.
Yesterday, on the anniversary of Norman’s death, I came home to a note from Sue taped to my front door.
The most recent event, she informed me, is that the property is now for sale and that she’s tired, and ready to move on. She wants to leave within a few weeks.
There’s no reason why I should move, too, that I can tell, besides the fact that a lot of confusing shit is going on and I’d be better off without it.
I don’t want to move, though. If I did, I would have been out of here a long time ago. But the rent is very cheap, the cottage is adorable, we have a giant back yard, and it’s a good distance from both my jobs.
Plus, to be honest, I can’t afford to leave. I don’t have money for a deposit on a new rental, let alone a house to buy.
Regardless, a Realtor is coming today to … do something … assess the property, I guess, and tell us to make it look nice. I took the day off work so I could be here to talk to her. She’s going to need a copy of my keys – keys? I have one key, which I’ve used maybe five times in three years. It’s that sort of neighborhood.
But here’s the thing: I don’t really want the house to sell. If it sells, I’ll most likely have to move. And I can’t.
And still, despite (or because of) all this, I’m still so confused. I don’t know who my legal landlord is. I don’t know whom to call when something breaks down. I don’t know why I haven’t simply been evicted (I missed three months’ rent, for Christ’s sake), and that’s led me to believe I can’t be.
I’ve downloaded the Landlord Tenant Act of Pennsylvania, and gotten the number of a local place that offers free legal aid. I’ve saved all my documents, official or otherwise.
And, as far as I know, that’s all I can do.