The tentative tenant: Can occupancy ever trump ownership?

I live in someone else’s house.

I’m reminded of that every once in a while — not by Mr. Brooks, who would never be an asshat like that, but when I search for something I know I have, only to realize it’s probably still stowed in a box in the garage. Last week, it was the hand mixer, which I wanted to use while making Thanksgiving desserts. I pulled the mixer out of the cabinet, then opened the drawer for the beaters. Nothing.

I’m not the sort of person who makes a habit of, say, bringing in a mixer but not the beaters, so my instinctual reaction was to blame someone else—CPOS, specifically. When he relocated to Denver a couple of years ago, he took some essentials that previously had been treated as community property — the “good” pots and pans, for example—so it wouldn’t be unheard of for him to accidentally abscond with something he thought belonged to him and Mr. Brooks.

Since they’d been homeowners for years, the kitchen was already stocked with most supplies when I moved in. When CPOS relocated to D.C. for a job, their apartment was so small that he left all but the essentials here; as a result, my “all but the essentials” remained in the garage until I needed a good chopping block, a cast-iron skillet or a springform pan. I didn’t need to bring in my set of chef’s knifes, since there was a perfectly good set — better than mine, in fact — on a shelf in the kitchen island.

But this also means I can open a drawer and be confronted by four tiny, practically useless stockpots. (That is an egg pictured next to one at right.) The only time I remember them being put into service was as Chex Mix holders at a party — and even then they held like four handfuls of snacks, so they required constant refilling.

The ownership/tenancy line can be hard to walk. Mr. Brooks and CPOS own the house, but although he comes back to visit for a long weekend maybe every six months, CPOS hasn’t lived here for a good four years. So part of me is like, “Why are there multiple menorahs taking up room in my hall closet, when their actual owner lives 800 miles away?” But because CPOS and Mr. Brooks are a unit, what constitutes his vs. theirs?

The beaters? Never found ’em. Mr. Brooks said he hasn’t seen anything like them in his Denver drawers, so to speak, and it was late so I didn’t feel like digging through boxes in the garage that night. Plus, the bowl-style mixer that belonged to Mr. Brooks’ family can be lifted off its stand to be hand-held, so I did that instead and everything turned out fine.

Later that night while I was setting the table for Thanksgiving, Mr. Brooks mentioned that he is working on a plan to ship his nice wine glasses to Denver, where he can actually use them during the days when he’s not on duty. (He works here for seven nights straight, then spends the following seven days in Denver with CPOS.) Which, again, is perfectly reasonable — he bought them, he should be able to enjoy them.

And by that logic, I should be able to enjoy — or at least access — my items, instead of relegating them to cold storage. So one of my weekend projects will be to shuttle unused items out of the house, while more of my belongings cycle in. And if it gives me the incentive to order great wine glasses of my own, so much the better.

WHAT SAM WORE: 11-29-11
The shirt: Long-sleeved “luxury blend” V-neck sweater by Banana Republic,
over a gray T-shirt from Urban Outfitters in Phoenix.
The pants: Jeans by BDg, from Urban Outfitters in Tempe.
The shoes: “Whirlwind” sneakers, from the Puma store in Soho.

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