Symbiosis - A relationship of mutual benefit or dependence.
It should come as no surprise that community living is often the birthplace of many relationships. It makes complete sense that a bond forms when people from all walks of life find themselves in a similar situation. We have watched friendships evolve to the point one would think they had known each other since childhood. New romantic relationships crop up and established relationships end. Children have adopted others as a surrogate parent, and parents have entrusted the care of their child to another resident as if they were related. During the COVID crisis, we witnessed the beginning of the most likely friendship I believe we have ever seen during our almost ten-year history.
When Keli arrived, she was 20 years old and less than two weeks away from giving birth. She was HUGE. Her due date came and went with no early signs of labor. Keli was induced seven days after her due date, and Grace was born later that day. Grace was a whopping 9 lbs. 7 ounces and 20 inches long. She had the most squeezable baby cheeks I have ever seen - the definition of a Gerber baby! Keli was a typical new mom, not sure if what she was doing was the right or wrong thing but settled into motherhood within days. Grace was a happy baby from the day she came home. Her first weeks consisted of sleeping and eating as expected. At this point Keli was not ready to let just anyone hold Grace, but she eventually relaxed, and I grew to expect my nightly baby time. My arms ached with emptiness if I did not get baby time. While recovering from Grace’s uterine escape, Keli began looking for a job to support herself and her newborn daughter. With so many businesses closed due to COVID, this was not an easy task. Eventually her persistence paid off, and she was hired by one of the local fast food joints. At the time I did not realize this was the first job Keli had ever had. Keli was scheduled to begin working two weeks before she was medically cleared to work, but she felt she could not pass up this opportunity. There was just one glitch, and it was a big one. Day cares were closed due to COVID, and Keli did not have family in the immediate area to help her out. She was not going to just trust anyone with Grace. It turned out that what she needed had been right in front of her all along.
If Matt and I had exchanged more than 250 words in the 126 days, he was here I would be shocked. Matt is a very private man who often communicates non-verbally. He is also a creature of habit who rarely strays from his daily regimen, so the nods, grunts and his presence at the office door became our daily routine. Because Matt guards his privacy diligently, I have to admit I don’t know a whole lot about Matt besides his age, his history of drug addiction and the crimes he committed to feed his addiction. I also know his favorite place to sit on the couch. I did not need to know much about Matt, but someone else sure did.
Keli and Matt
Prior to the arrival of Grace, Matt and Keli did not interact a whole lot which was not surprising. He was a Gen X and Keli a Gen Z. He was old enough to be her dad and Grace’s grandpa. What could they possibly have in common? Not a heck of a lot. What they did have in common was the fact they arrived within one day of each other, and both had a history of drug addiction. These two commonalities are often enough to create a bond between two people who never would have otherwise met. Whatever the reason, Matt began letting Keli in bit by bit. They ate together, went shopping together, and could often be found in the backyard having lengthy conversations if nobody else was around. Matt and Grace also formed a bond. Matt would often take care of Grace if Keli needed to run an errand, take a shower, or just get a few minutes of desperately needed alone time. When it came time for Keli to start her new job, Keli had not yet found someone to watch Grace. Matt volunteered to hang with the Grace of Spades until something else came along. Well, no other daycare options came along, so Matt suddenly had a full-time job just like Keli. It did come as somewhat of a surprise when they began looking for a place to live together. Their relationship was in no way romantic or a father/daughter thing. They were two people, one in need of daycare and one in need of a place to live and a purpose, and to them a symbiotic relationship just made sense. It took a bit to find a place because Keli had no rental history and Matt had a poor rental history. From a landlord’s perspective, taking them on as tenants was risky, but someone finally gave them the chance they needed. They moved into a two-bedroom apartment last July.
The relationship history of Frederick Place has not been a good one. People stay in touch for a short while, but eventually the bond they formed fades away and is but a memory. I have not talked to Keli or Matt since they left. It is my hope that their symbiotic relationship is working well for all three of them. No news is good news. Here’s to hoping theirs is the first friendship created here that lasts for as long as they need it to.