It was raining last Friday, and the cold wind had reached a level of discomfort that penetrated my thick layers of double coats. March had arrived but February hadn't left the building. Someone else hadn't left the building either, a young woman, well dressed (ish) sitting on the carpeted stairs of my outside corridor. There's a security door down stairs so someone must have let her in. She was sitting on the stairs outside my door in tears. That's how I found her. When she finally had gone, it was me in tears. Two and a half days of strange nostalgic occurrences whose wisdom will appear, if any, through the telling of this tale.
Knock on if you need anything, I said. She was in tears, by my door. What else does a man do? I didn't want to out right invite her in, it had to be her decision. So I made sure she knew it was an option before going in and closing the door gently behind me. I'd only just sat down with a hot drink and I heard a tapping on the door. Going to open it, I knew who it was. Or at least, I knew who it was but not who. I let her in, offered a seat and a drink, and asked how I could help. She told me she was homeless, and was waiting for someone but they haven't arrived. That's why she took shelter in the building. So I seemed to be in the right place at the right time for her, she'd done well to bump into me. Not everyone is so kind.
It had got to a point where it was inhumane to throw anyone out on the street no matter what they did, when she began to smoke her heroin pipe. Shit, I thought. Well, I'll hide my things and keep an eye on what she does, and by tomorrow, she'll be gone. I had an interview for a documentary about my life on Park Hill the next day so getting rid of her would be easy. We parted ways half way between my place and my destination (my old place), and I went on and did the interview. It went well, lots of old memories were rekindled from the depths of the mind. My thoughts turned to this woman, and what she was doing in life, and the kind of people that would live on Park Hill that she reminded me of. It was like as I revisited the place, I'd revisited one of the many types of people that would be there who you don't normally see.
That night, around 11pm, my door buzzer went. It was the woman from before. I felt a sense of okay this is a bit much, I'll have to tell her tomorrow that I'm going to need my own space back. I was tired, felt it was too late to say no at eleven at night, so reluctantly, I gave in. It was important to me to do the right thing by her and myself. There had to be a balance. Doing my bit for the community and doing my bit for myself had reached a level where I felt uncomfortable. Never the less, as it was late and I had no one in the flat, it seemed the right thing to do at the time. She didn't smoke any more drugs to my knowledge on this second night, which was a relief. I wanted to give her a break, cut her some slack, let it fly just the once, but its not the kind of thing I want happening in my home.
The next morning we parted company and I went back to finish the interview on Park Hill. She came back not long after I did, and this time she had her head set on cleaning my bathroom. I get it, it wasn't very clean. But she had no right to begin cleaning. She claimed she wanted a shower, which I don't recall giving her permission to use, and before long she was listening to her own music very loudly and making herself at home. It was when she started ordering me around that I said to myself, Rowan, you're being used again. Have you changed in the past few years or not? I made an agreement with myself there and then to say something. I said, listen, I need to put down some boundaries.
It was like a magic word to bring on some kind of teenage attitude that made every thing I said into a twisted recoil about how I'm at fault. I said okay then, you'll have to leave. She didn't, she began shouting, and after I realised she wasn't going to give me a chance to air my opinions, feelings, and thoughts on anything, I stopped talking back. I was trying to figure out what to do, I had had enough and she didn't seem to be listening to reason. I said you have to go, so she eventually said that I need to call a taxi for her. I called it, then she said she needs some money for it. I said I have only got enough for my food this week, I'm sorry. This was when she got her own phone out to call someone, she said she was going to let someone know exactly what a nasty piece of work I am and that I'm forcing her out with nothing after she's done so much for me, I got scared so gave her my money. The taxi called to say it was here but she simply didn't go. After an nearly an hour of her calling me all names under the sun and accusing me of using her and turning her into a bad person, being the reason she's so messed up etc. that finally she left. She had insulted every aspect of my life and myself that she could determine.
I began to cry, I felt violated and abused. So, after doing the right thing, being a model citizen, being a genuinely good person, I've been left feeling robbed in my own home. At least the bath room is clean, and I won't be letting her in again. Ever.