Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A ROOM OF MY OWN

I feel sad whenever I hear about today's teenagers having to either share an apartment or stay at home with their parents. Property speculation has raised rents to where they are totally unaffordable for almost all young adults starting out on their own. Forty years ago, rooms were inexpensive and plentiful.

When I was sixteen, I attended a high school in Edmonton, Alberta, twenty miles from my home in Fort Saskatchewan. Special counsellors were tasked to help us blind and visually-impaired students with long reading assignments and filling in test papers.

One disadvantage of this arrangement for out-of-town students was having to rent a room. Normally, this would be of little consequence. In my particular case, I discovered that the landlady had some sort of fixation regarding me and my poor sight. Relations between us became strained to the point where I begged my mom to find me a new room to live in.

"There's a housekeeping room only a block from your school," she informed me as we ate supper one Friday evening. "It's only thirty-five dollars a month too. I'll come to the city and show you where it is."

"I'm glad to hear that," I said. "I'm getting so fed up with that stupid landlady coming in my room while I'm gone and even barging in when I'm there. She complains I'm too noisy, but her and her boyfriend shout and argue past eleven o'clock."

"Well, you won't have to worry about that, or her watching you through the window either."

"Yeah, she even listens at my door. I opened it once and found her standing there."

"That reminds me, where did that large carving knife I gave you go, huh? You didn't go and give it away, did you?"

"No, of course I didn't."

"Well, who took it then?"

"I don't know. The landlady was the only one who came into my place."

"Did you lock the door, huh? You didn't leave it open all the time so people could come in and steal stuff, did you?"

"Of course I locked it. The only person who came in there was the landlady."

"Oh, I just bet she stole that knife. It was such a nice one too."

"I think she might have taken that knife too," I thought as I ate. "She did con Mom out of the twenty-five dollar damage deposit because she cleaned the place for me."

The new furnished room that Mom found for me was cosy but what gave me the most happiness was that my new landlord and landlady never barged in or spied on me. If I muttered to myself or listened to music at a decent volume, nobody knocked on my door demanding answers.

In my upcoming How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoir, I wrote about other authority figures who didn't respect my personal boundaries. To a lesser extent, I mentioned similar incidents in my two previous books. You're welcome to contact me directly for more information about them.