Chronic Lyme Disease claims another victim. Sadly, the time has come to move out of the home that I love so much. For the past eight years, I have been blessed to live in a beautiful apartment overlooking the St. John’s River. The view of the water has been my solace, my healer, my home, my refuge but now it is all over. I can no longer pretend that when the rent bill comes every month that I will find hidden pockets of money somewhere to pay this bill. It is time to find a cheaper place to live. My heart is breaking.
Over the course of eight years, I managed to move eight times for one reason or another but I never gave up this apartment. Sometimes my mother lived in it while I lived downstairs, then we would swap apartments and I was back here again. For a while, I moved over to a one bedroom on the other side of the complex and she was calling this place home. No matter how many times I packed my belongings and shuffled around this large apartment complex, we never let go of this particular unit. Every time I sat on that balcony and looked out over those placid waters, I felt like I was home.
We have seen some nasty storms pass over this place and those times were quite scary. There was no protection from the wrath of Mother Nature as she whipped wind with such force that we couldn’t even open the balcony door despite forcing all of our body weight against it. The rain has pelted against the windows, gusts of wind have blown our chairs across the deck so they had to be tied down if a storm was coming and the coffee table would sway in the living room if a Tropical Storm swirled overhead. Thankfully, we have escaped any hurricanes during my time here but the three Tropical Storms that I did endure were enough to leave lasting memories.
It is with great sadness that I will say goodbye to this apartment. I had hoped to spend many more years here. We have been taken over by our third management company and with each change in leadership comes a new “vision” for the property. This company has been the worst of all. There is no respect for the loyal tenants, it is simply a business to them. I can understand their underhanded practices perfectly well because although my Master’s degree is in medicine, my Bachelor’s degree is in Business Management.
In previous years, I have watched the other companies come in, make their changes to the staff, alter the tenant rules, attempt to run this property for a few years and finally give up only to sell out to the highest bidder. The long term tenants have quietly endured the construction, the inconveniences and the upheaval every time a new group of soldiers takes over our beloved home and we have waited with bated breath for their departure. However, in years past, I was gainfully employed and I could withstand the financial ramifications of new ownership. I didn’t appreciate the rent increases that came along with each company’s new vision, but at least I was in a position to wait them out.
I am no longer in a position to bend to the will of the new army that has infiltrated my home. I recognize that they have made some very nice improvements to the property grounds but these alterations have simply been to increase the curb appeal so they will have an excuse to increase the rent prices to an astronomical rate. When I renewed my lease in 2012, they increased my rent by $140 per month with the promise of new carpeting. A year later, I am still walking on my eight year old carpet.
I just received notification that it is time to renew my lease and my monthly rent increase will be $168 more. The promises to beautify my apartment this year will be a completely remodeled kitchen, new ceiling fans and new fixtures in the bathrooms. I wonder if I will be getting that new carpet as well? It really won’t matter because I will not be here to see it. Now that I am disabled from Chronic Lyme Disease, I can’t afford the whims of luxury that this new company is forcing upon all of the tenants. I am sadly watching the exodus of the long term tenants that have called this place home for up to a decade or more. It reminds me of the movie Fiddler on the Roof. People of all ages, the elderly and the infirm, packing their belongings on wooden wagons, covering them with burlap and tying it down with ropes, only to pull the wagons off into the horizon because they have been evicted from the only homes they have ever known and loved.
As always, I will try to look for the silver lining in the clouds as I begin the search for a new place to live. Maybe this will be a new chapter that brings us great happiness. We might find an apartment or a home that is better for my health. I am certain that we can find a place that will be easier on our wallets. This will give us an opportunity to clean out unnecessary belongings that have accumulated. We may find a place that gives us more space to breathe. This may be a new beginning where we can put the memories of sickness and near death experiences behind us. No matter what lies ahead, there is no question that the time has come. I will not deny that my heart is breaking and I am not ready to say goodbye to my river. I only hope that my body will get through this. Time to go load my wagon now.