The Year of Renting Dangerously

In 1987, I lived in three different places. If there’s such thing as upward mobility, I was about to try its opposite, downward mobility. All in the span of 9 months.

I had no intention of leaving the first place and no intention of STAYING in the third place. The second one was the hiccup. It came with one of the dumbest oversites of my 20’s. More on that in a moment.

In 1986, I was flying high. Living in a rented house in beautiful Bristol, Rhode Island. I rented it from my father-in-law for less than a week’s take-home pay. It was small but had a yard and sat on a dead-end street. Colt State Park and Narragansett Bay were a ten-minute walk.

It also began the most magical year of local sports in my 26 years of life. It was insane. (Note: no kids, it won’t seem like it after all you have watched with Boston sports teams in your first 26 years of life). The Red Sox made it to game seven of the World Series. The Celtics won the NBA title behind what may have been their most talented roster ever. The Patriots won their first AFC Championship and played in their first Super Bowl. My beloved Providence College Friars later went on to the Final Four, after finishing 4th in their own conference!

But in early ’87 my father-in-law called to tell me he was selling the house. I had a month to relocate. That’s a tight time frame but doable if you are financially ready. We were not. So we scrambled, settling on a basement apartment in Riverside at the intersection of two busy streets. It’s all we could afford. The space itself was nice enough. Fresh carpet, new appliances, easy parking and fresh paint. As soon as they said yes, I said yes. We swallowed hard and took a 6-month lease.

I soon discovered I had not asked enough questions. I missed a really big one.

I mean, who would ask if the building had Cable TV? Cable had been around for a whole eight years and “everybody had it”. Well, not us. Not for the next six months anyway. Sure, I went out and bought the best rabbit ears (antenna) I could find but we were in a BASEMENT, a cement prison. Whatever was happening in the sports world would have to be read, not watched. I imagine I was a joy to live with.

But alas, time flies when you’re frustrated and bored and in the late summer of ’87 our lease expired and we landed in our third spot in under a year: a big, beautiful, spotless apartment. The rent was about what we paid in Bristol. It was on an iffy street in the center of East Providence (I show my kids the house every once in a while. They think I’m lying). It had been vacant for years. Apparently, the owner, a 140-year-old woman who lived on the floor below us, was “picky” about who she would rent to. Like missing the cable question, I missed all the signs here too.

We stayed in this one for three years.

Not all of the 1,096 days with our scary landlady were bad. Sometimes she left for a few days to be with her kids, who smartly lived FAR away. But my first child, Taylor, was born in there. And it had cable. And she didn’t sell it and ask us to move. But by then I was DONE with renting, just too dangerous.

In 1989, I bought my first home. I’ve been upwardly mobile ever since.



An image of a desk phone"I got the call. Patriots head-coach Bill Belichick needs a healthy QB who is better than Brian Hoyer. (Now, I admit that’s not a very small list but somehow it’s come down to me.)

The game is Sunday, so I’ll be using the next couple of days to get myself in shape, nice haircut, grow out my stubble, whiten my teeth and practice yelling.  If anything comes up before that just yell out “59 is the mike!” or “Omaha, Omaha!” or “Duck!” and I’ll be sure to ignore it."

Orignally posted October 8th, 2020

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