Monday, July 6, 2009

Cozy just got cozy-er

On July 1st my brother moved in with us. He had been renting a room from a friend of his with his on-again-off-again wife and their son, but it had been contentious with the wife and had gotten to the point where it was best he leave. It had been decided he'd leave last Christmas and originally he was going to move back in with our parents. But that was a bad idea from the start. Dad and my brother are so alike (and neither will admit that) that they do NOT get along. And then the Christmas blow out happened and that was that. The blow out between dad and my brother would have happened sooner or later, anyway. My brother (I'll call him R) tried to make things OK between his renter and wife, but it didn't last more than a few months and again he was looking for another room to rent. At Christmas, seeing the futility of the arrangement to go back home, I'd offered my extra room for him. The #1 rule, though, was NO drinking or drugs. He is a regular beer drinker and pot smoker---not acceptable in my house, and something he should give up if he has any hope of getting his health back and his life in order. And as a result of his depressing life situation, he's gained a LOT of weight. So dropping those bad habits will help him get back to a healthy state. At least that's MY plan!
So far, it's been pretty easy. He stays out of our way and is, by nature, a very neat and orderly person. But the STUFF he came with is more than I'd imagined. So many boxes of crap (in my opinion) for a guy that lives in one room. He admits it's more than he wants and has said he'll go through it and throw out what he doesn't want/need.
So now I've got a torn up back yard, a tarp down to keep the dust and dirt down with tons of boxes and junk stacked on top. Very attractive. And more than I can deal with. It makes me feel uneasy. I like organization and minimal clutter.
I have put out a message to a couple of friends with small boys to come over and help themselves to all the boxes of clothes and toys in my garage. I have to make room in there. My car is finding itself with less and less room around the perimeter of its usual parking spot.
T LOVES having R here. He likes having a guy around, I think. R hasn't really played with T yet, but R is a great fisherman and T will likely be going fishing with him. That would be nice. And T asked me if Uncle R could come and watch him at Tae Kwon Do so he could "pretend" to be his dad. I could think of quite a few others that would be better role models, but I didn't want to douse his dream. So I just kept it neutral with a "We'll see how things go....."
Now, I have to find the happy medium between being the older sister with lots of advice to hand down (and I've held my tongue on more than a few occasions--trying to remember he didn't ask for advice!) and being more business-like the renter/rentee interaction.
He hasn't payed his dues this month yet, and I asked him what day he'd like to make as "rent due". He said, "whatever you say." So I said, "OK, then the first of the month." And being the 6th today--I'm still wondering where the check is. I"m only charging $400. He used to pay $600/month. I wanted to charge enough to cover the extra expenses his living here will incur, but also make it easier to deal with the loss of privacy and space that I have to accept. I've been living alone for the past 14 years and it's a big adjustment for me. It's my intention to (secretly) put all his rent into a separate account, use the funds when needed but save the majority for him so that when he leaves he'll have a nest-egg to spend on his new place--or a newer car, whatever he'll need to get that leg-up I'm hoping he'll get while staying here. I will I have to be more bold but it's hard to ask for money when I know he has so little of it. (He's been unemployed for more than 1 year--getting unemployment money all this time.) Again, lots more advice I could hand down--and probably will sooner or later.
We'll see how this goes. I see it as a stepping stone to getting R to a place where he has more choices. My plan is that he stays here 6 months to a year and then moves on to his own place--not another room off some friend. For gosh sakes, a man of 42 years old ought to have some place of his own by then, doncha think?

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