It’s 2008, but I get this eerie feeling that I’ve acquired first-hand knowledge of what it must’ve been like to live in a little house on the prairie (not just because of the movie). Obama fellows pay for everything except housing. Housing is provided by volunteers and Obama supporters who live in the same area as the fellows work. The responsibility of the housing volunteer is to provide a bed (or a couch) and a bathroom with a shower/bath. In Columbus I was housed with a very generous, friendly family. I slept in their son’s bedroom because he was still at college, provided with towels, clean sheets, wireless internet, and even food (my goodbye dinner was a nice New York strip steak!). Once I moved down to Athens my luck disappeared. At first I slept on the floor because there was no volunteer housing. Eventually people began to offer us space in their houses. Not enough, however, to accommodate us all. As a result I slept in another organizer’s apartment since he was an Ohio University student. What resulted was a slightly below average living situation but a wonderful bonding experience that resulted in a solid friendship. Unfortunately, that student’s lease expired today so I packed my bags and travelled to another address (with a different volunteer, Jennie) owned by a very friendly person, Jonathan. What we are currently in can be described as nothing short of nature.
The town is Guysville, 15 minutes east of Athens. The house is in the middle of fields of grass on a winding country road a couple miles off of a county highway. There’s no A/C (I can make myself used to that), no beds (mattresses on floors would be a generous way of describing the situation), no screens with the windows resulting in an abundance (an understatement) of bugs flying inside the house and myself getting bitten at least twice while writing this entry, ants crawling on the floor, and a warning from the owner to watch out for wasps in the floorboards. He even told us the story of when his kids (who are not here this week) were 5 and woke up in the middle of the night screaming because they were being stung by wasps. The blankets are dirty to the point that I held one up to a fan and debris blew in my eyes. To top it off, the “bed” (the term is used liberally) I’m sleeping in is covered with Jon’s son’s underwear. I improvised a different solution for my sleeping area for the night. I don’t want to sound as if I’m Paris Hilton in The Simple Life but when you walk into the kitchen and see dirty and clean clothes scattered across the dining table and a floor that requires to wear shoes at all times because there is no floor then you know you’re experiencing a different way of living. It’s not that Jon is poor; I think it’s just the way he likes to live. It’s the modern day little house on the prairie. I could cope with this situation for a week, but a month is a little too long, especially when you’re working 13 hour days and at night just want to come to home and comfortably relax. If everything works out, Jennie and I should be back in a more comfortable situation on Monday (3 days from now). Admittedly though, it’s a tiny bit of fun to live through this experience with a friend. In fact, if I were doing this on my own it would be nothing short of a nightmare.