College didn’t work out for me. I didn’t want to give it another year and so my only option was to find a job and leave the nest. When asked to describe what Vermont is like to live in I tell people that it is not a place you want to be stuck in if you don’t know what you’re doing. This was as true of Bennington in 2008 (the last time I officially lived there) as it was in 2001.
I had a little bit of money from the financial aid check I got in college. And when my mother moved to Alabama, I rented a room in my aunt’s trailer for a hundred dollars a month.
Arguably, my aunt, my then ten year-old cousin, with the functional mentality of an untrained howler monkey, and her live-in boyfriend/perpetual-television-tester could all be considered my very first roommates from hell. My aunt definitely qualified for the title of crazy cat lady, in that she took in every flea bitten, disease ridden cat in the neighborhood. But the cats did have one thing going for them that neither the pocket leach nor Dances-With-PlayStation could have. The cats left the house at least once a day.
However, I do need to be fair to Aunt Cat Lady. She taught me a valuable lesson about life in the real world. And that lesson is to never, ever, ever, trust anyone with anything that you do not the entire town knowing about. She taught me there is always going to be a loud mouthed buttinski who takes it upon herself to tell everyone else how to live their life, but can’t seem to recognize the correlation between the stones she throws and how cold she is in her glass house.
For a year I lived in this house. I worked at Price Chopper, where Aunt Cat Lady also worked the night shift as a cashier. When I got my diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, Aunt Cat Lady rammed every piece of information she could find down my mom’s throat. She insisted I was in denial because I refused to give the diagnosis any more of my time than what my so called “team” in middle school was giving it. When I lived with her, this just got dialed up to somewhere beyond eleven.
In 2002, she found a listing in the paper. Someone was renting out rooms. The rooms just happened to fall into my price range. She called the land lady on my behalf and proceeded to tell said land lady, without my consent, about my Asperger’s. So you can kind of see where Aunt Cat Lady gets some of the blame for why I never got trained as a cashier at Price Chopper. Because the woman did not seem to think that privacy and confidentiality were things that applied to her, and because the world would not bend over backwards to accommodate her own son and his issues, she felt the need to stick her nose in everyone else’s business regardless of how much damage she might do.
Consider this the last time I ever let that woman take up another word of this blog, much less any more of my time. She is a footnote in the early stages of my adult life. The Roommates from Hell series begins appropriately enough when I moved into the house on Beech Street.