Is Craigslist God’s Way of Saving the World?
Tiredness sets in. I hear my bed’s urgent call, “Get in here!”
I fail to heed the call, and instead, grab my Smart Phone and check it one more time before I give up on another long day. The switch from daylight savings time has thrown me off balance and is signaling that change is in the air.
In three weeks, Ashley, our current roommate, exits our home two months prematurely. Barring more activity resulting from our Craigslist post, the room at the end of the hall will be empty.
Four days ago, I posted the ad looking for a “part-time mother’s helper” in exchange for free rent and a twenty-hour, flexible work week. Within 24 hours, we received four inquires; since then, none. All responses seemed lukewarm, nearly void of enthusiasm, like a tentative handshake. Respondents are attracted to the idea of free rent, but not the opportunity to really help someone while saving money.
I followed up, sent information and tested their true intentions. I even sent them to our website, www.TheShiningBeautifulSeries.com. In the past, potential roommates have been drawn to our story. This time, however, the enthusiasm is absent. No follow-up, just silence.
I speculate whether the idea of disability may cast a long, dark shadow on opportunity. Do people let the heaviness of low expectations and the apprehension of taking on responsibility allow them to believe that she needs too much, rather than recognizing what she is offering? Have they read the stories posted by former roommates? Do they understand the love experienced here can be a life changing experience? Apparently not.
Ashley, our first roommate with military experience, moved into our home in November and occupied the room down at the end of the hall. Just days prior to moving in, she left her service with the Coast Guard at New Orleans’s swampy doorstep and headed west, feeling Denver was a good place for a fresh start. The strategy was perfect: to finish her master’s degree in environmental management at the local University and live with us for six months. It was a good plan, until things changed.
While plotting her trajectory for graduation, she discovered the University failed to offer the last class needed for graduation until fall semester. Then, the phone call came, followed by a handwritten letter from home. It was crucial she return to Texas, a crisis was brewing.
These winds of change blew softly as I sat perched on an ocean-side balcony gazing at a squadron of pelicans effortlessly gliding atop an ocean breeze on the coast of South America. As I returned home, I felt their full impact. Two flights later, I texted Mikelle, “Landed. Be home soon.” Through years of traveling, I have learned to prepare for surprises, even to become curious as to what will transpire in my absence.
It is late when I arrive home. I open the condo door. Reflexively, my spine stiffens and my breath quickens as I walk into the dark living room, tracking in sand on the wheels of my suitcase. A sliver of light escapes from the room at the end of the hall.
The house is quiet. I peek into Mikelle’s room and find she is sleeping. Ashley is under her bedcovers watching a movie. No surprises here. My bed calls, I respond.
The news came the next morning over coffee. Ashley fired the first direct shot, her military preciseness softened by her engaging smile. I get the announcement that she is leaving two months early. Her last day will be March 31. She apologizes. The second shot blindsided me. Taylor’s declaration spun me around and for a minute, I lost my balance. I look for a place to focus and ground myself, settling on the pictures hanging on the living room wall, lined up over our sand colored couch. The paintings, my dancers, couples lost in the music as they move together, help me maintain my balance.
Taylor is sparkling with excitement, unaware that her good news is igniting a firestorm of worry which ricochets through the soft tissue of my mind settling in my heart.
“Katherine, I finally figured out what I want to do!” she proclaims. “I am going back to school. My plan is become a hospice nurse, but first, I am going to become a certified nurse’s assistant.”
“You will be wonderful, Taylor,” I said. “One of your great gifts is helping people in challenging situations.” And as I say it, I really do mean it. The last two years, I have become familiar with her healing spirit.
“When do you start?” I asked.
“March 23rd. I can still work for you and Mikelle. Just can’t work evenings because of school.”
Part of me is happy for her. And that other part of me, the part that has carefully planned the schedule, knows that things will change once again in just a few weeks.
My thoughts return to Craigslist. No responses in two days. I reach for my laptop, flip it open and watch it come to life. The click of the keyboard is soft and quiet like the night. My fingers, in serious need of a manicure, type Craigslist into Google search. I click the link “rooms/shares” and searched for our ad buried in hundreds of newer posts. It is so far down the list, I can’t find it.
I debat whether or not to post again, even as I watch two additional posts pop up in last couple of minutes. I re-post the ad, then head to bed with my phone in hand. Within minutes, my phone announces two new emails in my inbox. They looked promising. I emailed more information, nothing comes back. My eyes grow heavy. I have given all I could to this day. I am going to bed.
Ollie, our gray tiger kitty, is my Monday morning alarm clock. He purrs in my ear, then licks my hand, signaling breakfast time. I groan, then reach for my phone on the nearby table. Still no response.
The countdown continues. Ashley chats about her to-do list before leaving. Taylor fills out school paperwork at the kitchen table. I wonder what it will take to move on. What do I need to let go of? What needs to be done to find another Taylor or Ashley?
I wrestle with an alligator-sized dilemma. Mikelle wants another roommate; however, I am not so sure. Thirty women have slept in our beds, eaten our food, shared their gifts, problems, and futures with us since Mikelle moved into her own home eight years ago.
I am tempted to let these changes overwhelm me, pull me out to sea in their rip currents, and wear me out with wave upon wave of surprises as I strive to reach the firm sandy shore. I decide not to fight the current and just go with it for a while.
As I sit in the stillness of my room tonight, I wonder if change will always be a constant in our lives. Will our home spin with new people coming in and out of our lives? Is this the divine plan? Could it be true that Mikelle and I are destined to fulfill a special mission designed to shape the hearts and minds of these young women as they take their place in the world? Is our little condo on Clarkson Street considered a sacred place? Is it conceivable that Craigslist is part of God’s plan to save the world by training the next generation in compassion?