Reform Rochester Now!

Making city and citizens self-sustaining

The other side of the wall

So what made me choose to become a landlord? Well, I guess I like people. I like to know they’re around.

When my daughter came back to live with me at age 5, a new tenant had just moved in downstairs. She had a little boy about 2 1/2 years old, and one Sunday morning my daughter came to the door of my bedroom.

“Come here, sssshhh!” I told her. She came over and we stood still and smiled at each other, listening to the tiny feet running from room to room downstairs and his gurgly baby laugh. It was a little like being in a forest of people.

When I was a little girl living in the country, my grandfather had a huge apple orchard and a dog. It took four hours to drive all the way up to visit him in Two Rivers, and there were no cousins to play with, just the dog, and the dog was shy. He was a standard-size Collie mix named Pete with the pretty orange fur collies have, and he would bark when someone drove into my grandpa’s driveway. I loved to pet his soft orange fur but he wouldn’t come around, so I would have to sneak into my grandpa’s workshop in the early morning when Pete was sleeping. He would wake up when I sat down and began petting him, but he seemed kind of terrified and when I finished talking to him and visiting, I would move around the woodcutting table and let him take off the other way out the door.

I didn’t know any other dogs like Pete, and as I got a little older I wondered how he got that way. It was a strange way for a dog to act, I suppose. As I got even older, I realized I was a lot like Pete. I liked to be around people, but I liked to get away from them whenever I could. And I began to realize that, as much as I enjoy being alone, I really like to know there’s someone on the other side of the wall. Even if I never see or talk to that person, I like to hear them living there, washing dishes or watching television, talking in an unintelligible way to someone on the phone or visiting, going about their daily lives not involving me, but being there for me nonetheless, because I like people.

The same way my grandpa’s dog Pete did.

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