In 2008, I opened up my home to two complete strangers who were fresh out of high school at 18 years old. They were hockey players and they were coming to live in Cleveland for the season to play. We offered them a virtual apartment that was the upstairs of my house and spent the next 7 months making them a part of the family. It was a great time.
Fast-forward to this past week when we said goodbye to our last billets (well, not verbally) under circumstances that were so different than we could have imagined. Things have changed in our house – our own family is different and bigger, the physical configuration of the living space isn’t quite the same. My own son is 14 and a far cry from the eager 10 year old who just wanted to “play with the boys”. The arrangement wasn’t always perfect. The TV that still remained upstairs stopped working, we cancelled cable, our furnace broke and we switched to wood-burning and zone heating. I no longer had the resources to continue to take almost daily trips to the grocery store for snacks because no one could control themselves when it came to the food – and I no longer had the patience or the energy.
We had already decided that this would be our last year. We needed our house and our freedom back. We were just too busy to keep up with the demands (it had never seemed like so much work in years past!). So, with the season drawing to a close (at what seemed like a snail’s pace) it was the WRONG time to piss us off. I never imagined I would want any of these kids to leave my house so badly – and wouldn’t have thought about it even 3 months ago. Recent events, from spending lengths of time in the backseat of the car in a Cleveland, OH driveway in the middle of winter, to walking into our personal rooms at 2:30AM to get some fucking ice cream, to tucking snack wrappers underneath the couch cushion. It just wore us way too thin. The call was made, “Coach, they’ve gotta go.”
It really sucks in a way. The season started off well, one of the kids really isn’t bad at heart. I was always proud to tell people what we did – because I felt like we were helping. Now I’m left just feeling like a sucker, taken advantage of and disrespected. We were left with a huge bag of garbage in the middle of the bedroom, dirty dishes and trash, an empty chew tin and 5 cans of shit beer artfully arranged with the two returned house keys, probably as a last “fuck you” for the situation. Well, I know I’m supposed to be the grown-up but really, “fuck you, too”. You’ll probably never understand that, even though we couldn’t provide all the snacks and powerades your little heart could desire, how much time and money and energy we sunk into this.
I’m glad to be done and a few years ago I never thought I’d say that. I miss the kids that came before – and I miss the couple of pieces of my family (even if in some instances we were family for what seems like just a moment) that are scattered around the midwest.
But right now? I am looking forward to my son’s new bedroom and our new game room.