Thanksgiving is this week and this brings us one very particular thing that I am thankful for: this year I did not come home to water pouring down through the ceiling of my apartment.
The year was two thousand and eight. I was living in a spacious 4 bedroom apartment, with 2 friends from high school – Tom and Erica – and an acquaintance – Dominic. We were on the second floor of a 4 story building, living well in Brighton. I was working for Harvard, which meant that I got perks. One such perk is that the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, every employee got a pie. I arrived home around 5:45pm, apple pie in hand, feeling exuberant. Tom worked until late in the evening, Erica disappeared for weeks at a time, and Dominic was in New Jersey. I was looking forward to a little quiet time. Just me and the pie.
Opening the door to my apartment, I noticed that something was amiss. I didn’t remember leaving a waterfall on in my bedroom when I left for work in the morning! I grabbed a nearby umbrella and passed through the threshold to my bedroom, like bursting through a wall of water. I checked all the important things first, my computer and comic books. Both were dry. Sadly, I could not say the same thing for all of my work shirts hanging in the closet, which were covered in damp plaster and also what I can only assume was water.
I placed our only bucket under my newly implemented waterfall and threw a few towels about. I sat on the couch, eyeing my pie, when I heard a commotion in the hallway. I stepped outside to find the girls in apartment 3 and the girl in apartment 1 having a powwow. It seems my apartment wasn’t the only one filling with water. Using the combined brain power of 3 apartments, we came to the conclusion that we didn’t know what the Hell was going on, but whoever lived on the 4th floor was going to have a very damp evening. Someone also called 911.
A tenant of apartment 4 arrived before the police did. He looked like he had just come from an internship at a law office, his tie undone only just barely. Apartment 4 lead us up the stairs like Fred of Mystery Incorporated, I brought up the rear like Scooby. Apartment 4 was hardly phased by the water pouring from the ceiling. This was such a frequent occurrence for him that he already had a 10 gallon trash can in place. What wasn’t a frequent occurrence (I assume) is that Apartment 4’s mattress was soaked.
A hour passed. My bedroom was only dripping water now. I had called my landlord and all my roommates. Erica made an appearance long enough to unlock her bedroom, which she dead bolted shut whether she was home or not, because no burglar would ever break into a locked room. This was the first time in the 1.5 years I lived with her that I had seen the inside of her room. It was like looking into her very psyche, full of clothing and clutter. The fire department was doing a check of all the rooms, looking for water damage in the walls. The power was cut to prevent any circuits from shorting out. I sat alone on our couch, eating a moist apple pie by candlelight, listening to firefighters run up and down the apartment stairs. At 8:30pm, a state representative appeared in my doorway. She told me that we needed to be evacuated by 10pm, and that our building was now considered “uninhabitable”.
A few hours later, I was at Back Bay station, waiting the the midnight train to my mom’s in Rhode Island. I had abandoned half a pie in my uninhabitable kitchen. I had enough clothes for a week in my bag. There was no way to know when we would be allowed to go back into our apartment or if we’d be homeless by Monday. After calling my landlord a dozen times, I, thankfully (a little holiday humor for you guys), got some news about the place I kept all of my things. We would not be homeless! Best Thanksgiving ever.