Life on the Spectrum

I have been a renter for the past ~25 years, and I had believed I would always be a renter, because my income has never been sufficient to buy an actual house. I have never had the desire to buy a condo because of my sensitive hearing. If I had a noisy neighbour, there would be no building manager to complain to. To me, almost any neighbour would be considered “noisy” as long as I could hear them on my side of the wall, and I can hear almost everything on the other side of the wall. So if I couldn’t buy a house, I figured I would just rent for the rest of my life.

In January of this year I got an unexpected eviction notice from my landlord. Normally this would fill me with anxiety, but I’d been through this situation before and I knew I’d paid my rent. In fact, I had proof of it from my bank. So I was annoyed rather than worried. I sorted it out with the landlord, but I was still annoyed because it turned out that the management office sends out the eviction notices automatically if the landlord does not deposit the rent into their bank account on the second day of the month. My landlord deposited my rent on January 3, so the computer sent out the notice on January 2. Because this was not the first time I’d received an unmerited eviction notice, it made me want to move to a new place.

A few days ago a friend suggested I look into mobile homes. That way I would have my own home, and while the neighbours would be close, they would not be on the other side of the wall.

I did a search on the web, and I found what looks to me like the perfect home. So I scheduled an appointment to take a look, and then I called a real estate agent. However, I got the husband of the agent, because the agent wasn’t in her office at the time. I have to wonder if the husband has Asperger tendencies himself, because he went off on what sounded like a script and would not let me get a word in until he was finished. He went in to a lot of unnecessary detail about the history of mobile home parks in my region that I did not need when all I wanted was an agent to represent me if I chose to buy this mobile home. This would make sense if he has Asperger’s.

I didn’t like that he told me I would not be able to find a place because I have cats, and he didn’t like that I told him I’d already chosen a place without consulting the agent first, so I decided not to choose that agent. Because of my phobia of telephones, however, I was afraid it would be difficult to find another agent.

For a usually detail-oriented Aspie, I don’t always do a good job of looking at details when I’m trying to decide whether to buy something. I tend to get stuck on the minor details instead of the important ones. In the case of the mobile home I looked at today, I became obsessed with how I would fit my furniture into it, because there are heating vents in the floor that might be covered by my couch or bookshelves, and I kept bringing it up over and over again. “Where will I put the wall unit? Should I get rid of it and just buy a TV stand? Where should I put the armchair? Maybe it would be better in the bedroom instead of the living room. Will I be able to fit both computers into the office or only one? Should I use the spare bedroom as an office instead?” Unlike the usual stereotype of autistic/Aspie people ‘thinking in pictures,’ I’m not a visual person, so I was unable to “see” how things would be arranged, and this bothered me.

This is why I take my partner with me when I have a major purchasing decision to make, whether it’s a new bicycle or, in this case, a mobile home. I made a list of questions to ask the agent showing me the home and went over them with him while my partner looked into every nook and cranny in all the rooms and asked questions about things I hadn’t thought of myself.

The process of buying a new home has stirred up a lot of anxiety for me. When my partner showed up five minutes later than I expected him today, I was anxious. When I didn’t see the road sign for the turnoff to the mobile home park right away, I got anxious. When I realized how much money I would be spending over and above the purchase price, I got extremely anxious, even though I can afford it. When I couldn’t see the house number on the mobile home (even though it was obvious that this was the right one, since the houses on either side had easily visible numbers) I got anxious. “What if I move in here and I get sick and have to call an ambulance? They won’t be able to find me!”

I’m pretty sure I did not make eye contact with the real estate agent the entire hour we were looking at the place. I don’t think he noticed; if he did, he didn’t say anything. I could not tell you what he looked like if I had to describe him.

I’m sure I will have a lot more anxiety before this process is through, and I’ll have a lot more details to get through. Fortunately, one thing I am good at is paperwork. I also may have found a real estate agent without having to make phone calls, because the one who showed me the mobile home gave me his card and told me to e-mail him and he can represent me, so that’s one load off my mind.

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