To what do we owe each other? What do we owe our neighbors?

About 45 bucks.

But no. I just spent the last 2 hours on my knees (rawr) scrubbing and cleaning the bathroom and oven. No, my family isn’t coming over. I am subletting my apartment and the subletter is then taking over my lease so I can move into a nice 2 bedroom apartment in the Bayview area of Milwaukee.

While packing and moving, I ended up giving a lot of my furniture away. I have 4 bookcases to this couple who just moved in. I gave them my green wingback chair and side table as well. They were moving in as I was putting my dining table in my car (I was selling it to a former student) and I approached the female and her mother and asked “Do you need any furniture?”

They were apprehensive, but when I explained I was moving out and didn’t want to take it with me, they asked if I was selling it. They seemed even more apprehensive when I said, “No.”

But they took them willingly and were grateful. I later met up with the male, the boyfriend (named Aristotle, which I though was awesome) and gave him some advice that I wish I had known when I moved in (like the fact that the brown dryer in the laundry room doesn’t fully dry things). I chatted with him and found out that his girlfriend was the one who took the chair and side table. So I offered them my bookcases. Both of them are graduate students in education, so they need bookcases and being graduate students—broke.

He works for a nonprofit that works on getting bikes to lower income students. Just talking to them made me smile. They are clearly trying to make a difference. This is something my partner and I were talking about. We were wondering about our own futures and own jobs. We were wondering if we were really helping anyone and making a positive impact in their lives.

Aristotle offered a free bike tune up for my partner and myself, which we might take him up on. We just asked that when they move out, that they pay forward the good deeds we did to them. I am trying to make this apartment a home for my subletter by having it be clean and clear of any traces that I might have left behind. Although I am giving her my futon and old dresser, these are things she can reclaim as her own. All I asked of her? Just to pay her rent on time and for half of the deposit I had initially paid for—since I’m damn sure I’m not getting the full thing back anyway.

I did these things because they’re kind. They’re neighborly. I didn’t expect anything in return. I wonder why so many people thought I had an ulterior motive to it.


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