Eloise Libre | Frankly Candid
Check the basement
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 08:10
Tis the season ... for seeking off-campus housing! These days, Tufts is abuzz with sophomores and juniors coordinating living arrangements for next year. Many people have already signed leases or determined their roles as subletters, while others remain frazzled in choosing a group of friends suitable for cohabitation or lost in a sea of foreign legal jargon presented by future landlords. Well, dear readers, if you’ve come today in search of advice on off-campus living, please look elsewhere. Though I boast no wisdom comparable to that of JumpOffCampus, I do have an important saga to share on off-campus housing — one with a message worth heeding.
It was a bright, spring morning on Boston Avenue. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, Dunkin Donuts was brewing and Nelly was warming up his vocal chords. Indeed, ’twas the dawn of Spring Fling. My housemates and friends awoke from peaceful slumbers, recovering from the previous evening of gallivanting at a Macklemore show. Little did we know, however, that there would be one other housemate — this one not so much a friend — waking up in our home that day as well.
Spring Fling kicked off to a great start. Everyone was excited to share each other’s company and enjoy the experience. Early on in the course of the day, one of my housemates ventured down into our basement in search of a missing item. As he descended the stairs to our grimy cellar, he encountered none other than an unfamiliar, scraggly man who appeared to be in his mid-50s coming up the stairs — a most peculiar circumstance.
Though surprised, my brave housemate stood his ground. He interrogated our visitor on his precise motives for emerging from our basement on this fine Spring Fling morning. It quickly became evident that this character was, in fact, homeless. He began ranting about his existence, bouncing from one place to the next and “riding the wave of life.” My housemate nodded and smiled but told our new friend that, unfortunately, the wave of life could no longer deposit him to reside in our basement.
To this, the hobo innocently insisted that he had only been sleeping there on bad-weather nights! In case you cannot recall — the night before Spring Fling 2013 was both warm and clear, certainly not qualifying as a “bad-weather night.” The man then went on to reveal the most shocking one-liner, one that we have quoted tirelessly since: “This house has been a godsend since 2000.” 2000?! We were shocked and concerned. There had been a homeless man sleeping in the basement of our home for the last 13 years.
That week, another of our housemates bumped into one of our neighbors, a Tufts professor, in the academic department where she works. They got to chatting about life on our block, and she revealed the horror that was the Hobo of 13 Years. The professor acted unsurprised and responded matter-of-factly, “Oh, was it Joel?” Apparently, when he had moved in during the ’90s, another character roamed from basement to basement on those bad-weather nights. But the descriptions of Joel and 13 Years did not match up. Thus, we determined that our neighborhood must be a stop on the proverbial underground railroad of homeless folk.
The following weekend, this same motley crew of housemates almost got evicted for another reason entirely (not our fault, we promise!) — but that’s a story for another week.
And so, dear readers, before you sign those leases, it is crucial that you heed this simple yet important piece of advice: Check the basement.
Eloise Libre is a senior majoring in history. She can be reached at Eloise.Libre@tufts.edu.