The house is not more than twelve feet wide from the outside. The steps are rotting. It's detached, but within five inches from the house on the left.
There to greet us is Cecila. She lives next door. She has an unlit, half-smoked cigarette stuck to her bottom lip. She has our keys in one hand and a distinct wiry white beard.
"Landlord ain't here to meet ya yet, she'll be along. She's after picking up the kids from school" She says as she hands the keys over. She is very chatty. We try to make polite conversation with her, but are really anxious to get inside and assess the situation we've gotten ourselves into. Finally, she lets us go, with a warning to keep the back gate padlocked. "Them kids here, y'know, they'll be after stealing your plants if you don't".
Great. We enter our house, and it's as bad from the inside as it is from the outside. It's immediately clear that any furniture designed to accomodate an adult human will not fit here.
Next to come by is Cecelia's husband Danny. He posesses not one, not two, but three! of his own teeth! And has the thickest Newfoundland accent you could possibly imagine. He talks for a good five minutes, pausing to laugh at his own jokes, but the only thing I can understand is something about mowing the grass in the back garden. He finally leaves, and Kyle and I exchange a what-the-fuck look. We continue to tour the house, noticing a distinct bow in the kitchen ceiling where the bathtub resides upstairs and a spongy area in the floor beside the toilet. We are both under five foot-eight, and we can touch the ceilings on two of the three floors in this house. Three of four, if you count the basement, where we both hit our heads and the air is thick with mold spores. Kyle can (and has) hit his head on the main stairway if he's not careful.
The landlady shows up. She is young and pretty and nice, and her two young boys are very cute. She refers to them with maddening affection, usually saying 'yes my love' or 'no my darling'. When they begin to swing on the stair banisters, exposing to us the instability due to rot at the base, she looks at us nervously. She tells us she is willing to tear up our lease, knowing it must have been hard to come from so far without being able to properly pick something. We jump on that shit almost immediately.
When she leaves, we sit down on the floor in the eight-by-ten living room, defeated. I may or may not have started to sob and whimper about how I want to go home. Kyle holds me, and agrees.
Later, we trek out to Canadian Tire to buy an air mattress to sleep on and a shower curtain. The directions we're given makes it sound like a ten to fifteen minute walk, but it's really more like an hour. And literally uphill both ways. On the way back, my sandal breaks and I finish the walk one-shoed and teary again.
While Kyle sets up the air mattress, I let the dog out into the backyard. She has a pee, and then starts to roll
Things have gotten better since then, but that first day was one of the worst of my life. And our mattress doesn't fit up the stairs here, so we are still sleeping on the fucking air mattress.