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A letter for whomever's next...

Dear New Tenant in the Duplex Where I Used to Live Until This Past Saturday,

Hi. How's it going?

If you're reading this letter, then your new landlady didn't confiscate it and burn it. Which she shouldn't because I don't have anything mean to say about her. She's a new owner, but she seems very fair and on top of things.

But ask me again in a month after I find out how much of my security deposit I've gotten back. Then I may have some choice words for you.

You don't know me. At least I hope you don't, because I don't want somebody going around identifying me with stains or carpet snags that they've found in the place I used to live. Which also shouldn't happen because my family and I busted ass (OK, my Mom and my grandmother busted ass) making sure the place is clean, the carpets are shampooed and the walls are free from the cobwebs, dirt and the Satanic marks that greeted me when I first moved in.

But I digress. If you're reading this, then that means you're moving into the duplex I just vacated. I just wanted to touch base, share a little bit about your new home, and I guess unload some memories from the last two years.

Your new duplex looks nothing like this. But don't be sad.

Mostly, I just want to tell you about the bathroom handle.

It's unstable. You think you flushed OK, and everything is just fine, but then you go sit down in the living room and twenty minutes later, you still hear water running. You're trying to make out with someone on the couch, but instead all you can think about is how high your last electricity/water bill was and how it's because of the stupid-ass toilet. It's the chain. It's held together by a rusty paper clip. Just jiggle the handle, and in about 23 seconds, the water will stop running. Trust me on this one.

If you leave floaters behind, though, you're on your own.

A few other things.

You have a Dish Network satellite dish installed. Yeah. You're welcome. But unless you activate service, you won't get anything. And if you try to get cable, the Time Warner people are going to go out back, look at the wiring and the dish, and give you the dirtiest look. That's why I'm suggesting you go with the dish. Dish Network never takes down a dish once they've put it up. They're like dog droppings. You ever seen a dog pick up their own turds?

Lots of cars pass by at really high speeds at all hours of the night because you're right at the bottom of a really steep hill. You'll get used to it.

You missed having the funniest landlady in the history of tenant-owner relations. Her name was Lotus and she would say the funniest things. She used the word "lanky" to describe someone and it was the only time I've ever hear that word used in real conversation. She sold the property a few months ago, but maybe she'll buy it back someday. Lotus is great. Not that your new landlady isn't great, but Lotus was like a character from a cancelled sitcom where you wished they'd just kept the one really good supporting character and ditched everything else.

The dryer room is the dirtiest, lintiest place on earth. I tried cleaning it again and again, but it is and always will be like the inside a teddy bear. Try to hold your breath when you put stuff in the dryer.

You have a little tiny trash bin and I guarantee you will fill it up before trash day every week. There's an apartment complex right down the road with big Dumpsters. If you ever throw a party, you can take your trash there.

If you plan to have sex (and why shouldn't you?), your bedroom is on the opposite side of the duplex from your wall-sharing neighbor's bedroom. This may not sound like a big deal, but trust me: This is a Good Thing.

Your shower's hot water lasts about 16 minutes.

It's not really important that you know why I moved out, but I will tell you this: It's not because I didn't enjoy living there and it wasn't because I wanted to get out.

I spent two years there, comfortably, happily. I loved a lot, hated a little, ordered many many pizzas, read tons of books, created a Web site, watched the World Trade Center towers fall early one morning, did miles of laundry, had a few parties, installed a home theater and blasted it whenever my neighbor was gone, got to know my neighbor and landlady, watched my flowers die on the front porch (don't put them there unless they can stand high temperatures, by the way), grew up a lot, let a lot of things go, raised a cat, enjoyed the fall breeze through open windows.

One time, on Sept. 11, I walked to the St. Edward's track, then past it to send a letter of recommendation Fed Ex at the post office. It was a long walk, and I think it was over 100 degrees, but I walked, risking sunburn, just to clear my head and because my car stopped working that today.

Take advantage of that track. It's wonderful to live where you're living. It's close to everything, it's roomy, the neighborhood is great. But I wish I'd taken advantage of long walks in the area. The hills, the students, the old, old houses. I'll miss it. I'll miss it quite a lot.

So take care of the place. You can be happy there, I promise. I was. And even though I had to paint the walls back to their original color, I hope there is some kind of psychic imprint left behind that will greet you sometime here or there. Something saying that I had good times there, and that I hope you will, too.

Good luck,


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