I was living in New England and my landlord had an apartment above me. He would text me and say things like, “There’s a tin of muffins on the bannister.” Pretty halcyon, right? But it made sense for my small New England town where properties were rented on a handshake and a one-page month-to-month sublease. I’d never accept muffins from this landlord for fear of poison.
Any elisions in this timeline represent long stretches without unpleasant interactions with landlords, and uneventful tenancies make boring stories. I rented many apartments throughout Iowa City and Chicago before my first full-scale landlord-induced meltdown, which set into motion a series of motifs I'd revisit over the next eight years.