He laughs like Walter Brennan or Gabby Hayes, a high-pitched laugh that approaches a cackle. It's fun to hear, at first, and the laugh is not what you'd expect. He's around 50, would be a bear if he wanted to be, OK looking, and his nickname is Woody. (I didn't ask.) He seems to have a good heart, although he's drunk the Kool-Aid about Hillary Clinton. But I'm currently living upstairs, so I don't have to see him much.
The landlord and his two brothers are remodeling the house. They're all experienced in construction and are an excellent team. Brothers either click or they don't; these guys are thoroughly in sync. The landlord, Joel, is in charge. While his brothers have done their own remodeling work, deference is given to Joel because it's his property. It's fun to overhear Woody and John, the third brother, dis Joel over some of his decisions...not to his face, of course.
Joel and John would be taken for brothers by anyone. Woody is much taller and stockier than the other two. Joel and John even have their hair cut and combed the same way. Their clothing choices are similar...kind of hip construction guys as opposed to Woody's overalls and heavy boots.
As I've written before, my late spouse was a hoarder. I think he hastened his death because the EMTs couldn't get to him because the place was so filled with stuff. I will admit to being Jack's enabler, but at some point I just gave up trying to make sense of the place: He didn't care, so why should I? When I returned from the hospital, watching Jack die, I was greeted by a two-page letter that essentially evicted us because the place was deemed unfit for human habitation. They didn't know Jack had died and apologized profusely...the policeman who reported it stopped by the next day and apologized over and over because he didn't know Jack died when he taped the notice to the door. I found that touching, but it's also a small town, and that's what we do.
We had a couple of "get this stuff outta here" work days with friends of Jack's and mine and pretty much cleared out the house, except for some mementos, books he wrote, and some things I wanted to keep, including my huge vinyl records collection. Although the living room looked worn, it also looked far more spacious than I remembered. To appease the health guys, Joel decided to rip the entire first floor out, remodel it, new heaters, update the electric wiring, and while it's not done, it's fantastic. I remembered why I first rented the place. It's an old house and it has a certain charm. Also, it now has insulation.
While that is going on downstairs, I've moved my basics upstairs. We have two rooms and the bath upstairs. One room remains the bedroom, the other has become a sort of office, and it's also where the records are. I bought a turntable that connects to the computer to make whatever has replaced mp3s so I can make CDs of music I never replaced and some music that I had. I think we've been through this before, my preference for the vinyl sound as opposed to the digital.
Upstairs is not out of earshot of downstairs. When I met Joel's brothers, Woody seemed like a people person, in that he knew how to get along with people in whose houses he worked. John, however, seemed a little put off. I have no idea what Joel gave them as the backstory to the house's condition or to Jack and me. I wrote it off as John not warming up to people. When I'm not at the LGBT Center, I'm upstairs with the computer and the cat. The guys brought in a radio and there was a song with Elton John...and it sparked comments. Woody said he liked Elton's songs. John said he didn't because "the guy is gay." I heard a "shhh," probably from Joel, and except for Elton singing, there was silence. I assume Joel brought John up-to-date. The next I heard from John was, "Did I say that out loud?" Maybe not the best recovery line, but it showed a little effort, certainly more of an effort than I used to encounter.
John has actually become semi-friendly...it's not nearly as cold around him as it was. I'd like to think that's it proves Harvey Milk's observation that coming out is not just a political act, but it makes straight people think. "David's gay? But I've always heard that gay people are this, that, and the other thing. David doesn't seem like that at all."
The problem is the thinking part. The concentrated dumbing down of America has worked on far too many people. Kids are taught how to pass government-made tests. They do not learn for their own good, they learn to give the school a good enough rating that it will continue to receive money. Kids are not challenged to think. Thinking takes time nor is it easy. Memorize for the test, then forget it.
And so it goes. Work continues, although a fourth guy has appeared who, it seems, has nothing to do with the project...they're standing around being butch (football, the awful Hillary, the smart Drumpf) and not disparaging gays. I leave the LGBT Center tomorrow, and that's another topic. I'll be here as things progress downstairs. And it sounds like, aside from the bathroom, Joel doesn't want to do much up here. I miss Jack terribly. This, though, seems to be a way of starting a life without him. That's probably a good thing.