Senior with young soul seeks roommate

Washington Post
Published: 12/3/2016 9:59:52 PM

My brother and I lived together in Maryland for five years. Then the owners of the apartment complex changed management companies and the place went downhill fast. We decided not to renew our lease.

He decided to move in with his girlfriend. Now, where was I to go?

I have two grown sons and both have lives and families of their own. I could have pressed the issue and moved in with one of them, but I didn’t want that. I dare say they didn’t either.

So, I went on Craigslist and began looking for a room. Living on a fixed income prohibits me from affording an apartment on my own, so I decided a nice room in a suburban neighborhood would be perfect.

Little did I know that most of the ads on Craigslist are millennials looking for help in paying the mortgages on their newly purchased homes. I replied to the first seemingly good fit and received an email response asking for more information about myself. Where did I work? What was I like? Would I be willing to have a background and credit check? Was I 420-friendly? How old was I?

I was stumped on the last question. I’m 61 and very young at heart. I know many like-minded seniors; however, I also know many that may as well be 101. They just exist, getting through the day watching mindless television shows, rarely going anywhere except to the grocery store or doctors’ visits. Their lives and conversations center on their latest medical diagnoses and how awful they feel.

While I certainly empathize, that’s not me.

I started college in my late 40s, a bit apprehensive about sharing a classroom with teens and 20-somethings. I was elated to be accepted into the herd immediately; soon I was considered a matriarch. I’ve always attracted younger souls. I don’t think our spirits age as our bodies do; instead they are only as old as we feel. Sometimes, I’ll have a polite conversation with an elderly stranger and think I have nothing in common with them because they are “so old” – only to realize they are younger than I am.

I didn’t want to live with people who were “older” than me, in age or sensibility. So, how should I handle my email response: How old are you?

Although the Fair Housing Act says it’s illegal for a landlord to discriminate based on a tenant’s age or other characteristics, I responded with my true age and hoped my added whimsical statement – “I’m 61 going on 39″ – would convey I wasn’t as old in spirit as I was chronologically. Not so much. No response, even after a friendly follow-up.

The next ad I responded to was worded: “Female only, mature and responsible. No parties, no drugs, no drama. Must submit background/credit check. Only serious applicants need apply.”

I moved in a month ago. The place is a basement unit with a private bedroom, bathroom and a gas fireplace in a large living area that opens out onto a lovely patio in a fenced back yard.

The landlord is a young woman with three daughters. Her mother lives with them and, lo and behold, she’s my age. It happened to be a perfect fit.

I’m alone but not lonely. I have privacy; the young girls know they must ask permission before entering (mom’s rules) and are very friendly and respectful. To my delight, they visit often. It’s like having my own family but on a sometimes basis.

Should I find myself house-hunting again, I’ll avoid answering the age question directly and follow through with an in-person meeting. You can’t know until you meet face-to-face, spirit-to-spirit, if it’s worth crunching the numbers.

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