by Jessica Delfino
I got evicted today, I mean for real where the guy comes and says get out and changes the locks and stuff. It was one part traumatizing, one part humiliating and one part stupid.
I went to court on Tuesday to try to get a stay of eviction (where they put it off for a bit until I can try to fix everything) and the judge said no, because I’d messed up my payment schedule. I paid $1200 per month for my apt. and my landlady wanted me to pay $1700. I gave her $2000 in court but it wasn’t enough to ease her mind.
The judge told me to call the Marshall’s office and ask when my eviction was scheduled for. I called after court and they said to call back on Thursday and they’d tell me if it was going to be on Friday or Monday. So, I called back today and they said the eviction schedule wouldn’t be ready until 3:30 this afternoon. So, I went home and started to pack my stuff up into boxes. Around noon, I called my landlady to see if I could move out on Monday since it’s supposed to snow and freezing rain tomorrow. She called me a bitch and told me I deserved to be out on the street. She also said there was something wrong with me which might or might not be true, but how did she know? How embarrassing, when people you don’t even know can look inside your mind and accurately pin point your short comings.
She told me I was getting evicted today, then, she hung up on me. I got worried because I thought I was getting evicted tomorrow, Friday. I called the Marshall’s office and again, they said I had to call back at 3:30. I told her what my landlady said. She asked me for my name and address and said yes, actually, I was scheduled to get evicted today at 12:45. I looked at the clock. It said 12:30. I locked all three locks on my door. Then, I grabbed a duffel bag and started putting things into it that I kind of care about and a few clean pairs of socks and underwear. If I’m enough of a loser to be getting evicted, I thought, at least my feet should not smell.(?)
I tried to call some friends and Legal Aid to find out what to do. It seemed wrong to me, they TOLD me to call back on Thursday to see about Friday. I was very confused. But whoops, no time for confusion, there was a knock on my door. I asked who it was but I had a pretty good idea. “City Marshall,” he barked at me. “Open the door!” I unlocked two locks and pulled the door open the length of the chain.
“Um, no one’s here right now, but if you would please leave a message at the beep…” I said in my head. “Open the door or I’ll bust it down,” he said. The Marshall looked like a troll - he had long white hair like Gildor or whatever that guy from Lord Of The Rings name is, but he was short. His face looked familiarly like one of my old regulars from the go-go bar. He was old. I wondered how long he’d been kicking people out of their homes for? I didn’t ask. I just opened the door, because I didn’t want to get beat up by an old city employee.
“You are scheduled for eviction,” he said. “When?” I asked, as if I didn’t know. “Now,” he said. “Get a bag, put some things in it and get out. We’re changing the locks and taking over possession of this apartment.” He had a short, shout Indian looking guy with him. “Change the locks,” he told him. I grabbed a few more things and put them in the bag as I tried to explain that this was all a big mistake.
He said he didn’t care, he had the paperwork to prove otherwise. I told him my landlady called me a bitch. He said, “She can be mean.”
I didn’t really know what to do. I just grabbed my purse and the two small bags full of clean socks and cds and sort of looked around, bewildered. What do you grab when you’re getting evicted? What’s important? I always wondered if there was a fire and I only had a few minutes to get the things that were most important to me, what would they be? This was kind of like that, I guess. I grabbed a blank book my sister gave me for Christmas, a pretty antique crystal bottle my mom gave me several years ago, extra mittens, two pairs of jeans, my straightening iron, some cds, my toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste, a bottle of expensive French perfume an ex-boyfriend bought me a few years ago, and some other random items, clinging to the situation, clinging to my possessions, hoping they could settle the chaos in my head, knowing it was all sentimental and pretty much useless.
The Marshall explained to me that the landlady would keep my possessions until I could make an arrangement to go and get them out. I took my few bags of crap and slithered out of my old apartment door. The Marshall, the lock changing guy and the superintendent stood there awkwardly, I could tell they felt sorry for me. What had happened? They must have been thinking. She’s a pretty girl, she’s white. She doesn’t look like a drug addict. What could have possibly happened to her to lead to this? Maybe they were thinking something else, like, maybe one was thinking he was hungry and wondering what he would eat for lunch, and maybe the super was thinking that he’d seen this happen so many times before and maybe the other guy was singing a song in his head or something. But, I was pretty sure by the looks on their faces that they felt as sorry for me as I felt for myself.
I stumbled sadly down the stairs, not looking back or saying good bye. I was really embarrassed and just wanted to get the hell out of there. I descended the four flights of stairs and cursed Kurt Metzger in my head in a voice just above a whisper, over and over again. When I got outside, I sat on the stoop. “What the hell am I going to do now?” I thought. I tried to call some more friends and no one was home. “I can’t even go home if I wanted to,” I thought. “I’m technically homeless,” I thought. I’ve made lots of homeless jokes and I always said to myself, “One day, I am going to be homeless, I know it.” Then, I thought about all the countless number of rape jokes I’ve made over the years. It made me shudder. If this was any kind of indication that what goes around comes around, I’m fucked - against my will.
I got in touch with my lawyer friend, finally and he said I should go back in and put him on the phone with the Marshall. I went back into the foyer and immediately lost reception on my cellphone. I stood outside of the superintendent’s apartment and the Marshall and the lock changer guy were all in there talking about me. The Marshall said, “The landlady thought this girl was going to give me a hard time. She said that she told her she’d call the police if she tried to evict her,” THAT’S NOT TRUE! I screamed in my head. My face turned pink and my ears perked up. There’s nothing like getting kicked while you’re down. It hurts extra good. They all chuckled over the idea of me calling the police and the Marshall imitated my voice in a whiny sing song and they all laughed some more. Oooh, that smarts, I thought to myself, and listened in more closely. Then, they came out of the apartment to find me standing there. I got busted eavesdropping and they got busted being insensitive. I guess we were even.
I asked them again about how and when to pick up my stuff and they explained it again and then we all walked out together. The Marshall offered me good luck and wandered off to ruin someone else’s home situation. The lock changer guy stayed behind for a minute. “I’ll make it easy for you when you want to get your stuff,” he said. “Just give me a day’s notice and I’ll come over and let you in, no problem.” I thanked him and he sort of stood there, looking up at the sky. “Well, good luck,” he said. “Can you give me a ride somewhere?” I asked him. “I’m taking the bus,” he said. “I’ve got another one to do.” I guessed ‘one’ was a simpler way to say all the stuff I said just now. I thought to myself, if I ever hit it big, I’m going to give him a better job - one where he didn’t have to lock people out of their lives.
I watched him walk away and tried to call a few more people. I finally got through to a friend and he said I could come over. I got into a taxi thinking, fuck, I’m taking it easy on myself. There’s no way I’m walking to the train carrying two heavy duffel bags and a purse and then taking the train somewhere. When you get evicted and then you have to take the subway to where ever you’re going next, I imagine that’s the most earthly thing you can find that most closely resembles going to hell.
I got into the cab and cried for a minute. It was a cleansing cry, one that doesn’t really represent sadness or self-pity, more like an intermezzo, you know, where they give you sorbet at a fancy restaurant to cleanse your palate for the next dish, or traumatizing experience, or whatever.
I used to work at a place where they did that. I brought a table of ten their intermezzos and they ate them, and then the grandmother dropped dead, right there at the table. So at least her palate was cleansed for when death came to get her. I wonder if death cares about bad breath? Probably not.
As the taxi drove down second avenue, then turned onto 72nd street and made it’s way towards the park, I wiped my little crocodile tears away and thought about how all this came to be. Sure, I could blame it on Kurt, but I really had to blame it on me. Me, me, me. That’s what this was all about. I imagined what I could have done, at what point might I have been able to fix my life to keep this from happening, or where in the timeline I could have broken up with Kurt to have saved myself. I wondered if it would have all panned out the same either way. I thought about how I was going to look back at all this and laugh someday, maybe even tomorrow. I imagined sitting in a dressing room, getting ready for a big show, my plane parked out back. My thoughts would return to the day I got evicted, memories spread out like a hand of cards. The guy who changed the locks on my door at my apartment all those years ago would come in and he would say, “Ms. Delfino? They’re waiting for you.” And I would smile, take a sip of wine and say, “Let them wait. I’m doing something…. kind of like reveling.”