As I’m sure I’ve said sometime before, I’ve been living in a student housing cooperative ever since I moved to Eugene. I’ve absolutely adored it here. There’s no landlord, so we get to learn all sorts of responsibility about building maintenance, and there’s no mortgage (since coopers of yore paid it off), so there’s no threat of being kicked out. And, of course, there are ample fringe benefits such as it being so close to campus that I walk everywhere. I’ve often gone three or four months before I’ve had to fill up my car with gas. It’s also been affordable enough that I haven’t had to go into debt just to live. I think I’m just about one of the only people in my program that hasn’t had to take out at least one student loan. I’ve also made a lot of friends living here, and I’m sure to treasure at least a solid handful of them for the rest of my life.
But this year…it’s been hard. Between me becoming so disillusioned with my program that I went on leave and the constant onslaught of rats and mice that have plagued the house–even putting me in the hospital this past September–I can’t say I’ve been as involved with the house as I’ve been in the past. I gave up on it in a lot of ways, which was probably unfair.
Worse, my general withdrawal from most house activities gave the rumor mill ample time to do its thing. Unbeknownst to me, one housemate decided she didn’t like me at all. I’m not sure why, as she readily admits I’ve done nothing to her. Nevertheless, she’s been spreading rumors about me for months, as I discovered last week, and some of it has been so ludicrous that I’m appalled that some of my housemates believed it. For example, she’s spread it around that I abuse animals for fun. That breaks my heart. I volunteer to walk dogs for charity, for goodness sake! I suppose it’s been that I’ve been so anti-rat and have not been opposed to killing them that has allowed this particular rumor to take hold.
Unfortunately, things came to a head at the worst possible time. Between May 30th and June 6th, I was in Pennsylvania to attend my youngest brother’s graduation. During that time, the house essentially met several times to talk about me, and it culminated in them essentially voting to evict me based on these rumors.
I can’t even begin to express how hurt I was by this. To me, it had come completely out of the blue, so I struggled to accept this decision. It seemed very much like an elaborate joke. Then, I became livid. The co-op actually does have a lot of processes that we’ve all agreed to abide by if a housemate has been disruptive enough to merit eviction, and my housemates threw all that procedure out the window by having all these meetings in my absence. It was patently unfair, which is something we all agree on now, at least.
The day I came back to Oregon, we did have another house meeting, and a lot of things got cleared up. We were able to separate a lot of the rumors from fact, and I definitely discovered that I hadn’t angered all 17 of my housemates. (In fact, only about four had any real beef with me, and almost all of them admitted that their issues were fairly petty on their behalf.) A lot of people here now think the girl who instigated all of this against me is crazy (at least emotionally)…and I have to admit that I take a little righteous pleasure in that.
Unfortunately, I don’t think I can live here anymore. When I had learned on May 28th of all these rumors, I immediately started looking for a new place to live. Although things have now cleared up a good bit, I still feel incredibly hurt and betrayed that so much house process was broken in my absence. So even though the eviction was basically lifted, I’m still doing my best to get out of this house by the end of the month.
Alas, the process of packing my life up and finding a new home is a bit all-consuming. Instead of resuming the Roderick project as I’d planned, I think I shall have to postpone it further. But once I get settled, I’m sure I will return to it with new zeal.