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A series of events converged in such a way that I was, according to certain statistics, effectively poor and homeless. According to other statistics, I was neither. The fact that I wasn’t earning any money and had nowhere to live is what makes it confusing. The aforementioned events are as follows: 


Firstly, I had used all my savings, which consisted of three thousand dollars, to open a Burger Joint with my best friend. He had put another three thousand dollars, plus an old refrigerator and oven that were gathering dust and spiderwebs in a deposit that belonged to his family. I guess that that made him the majority owner. We had just opened the place and weren’t making any money yet, but at least we were feeding ourselves, even if that meant eating burgers for literally every meal. We weren’t losing money either, or at least I think so. We didn’t count the money, we just split it in two at the end of the night and put it in our pockets. We had a notebook where we wrote down how much we had sold that night, but we weren’t very diligent at it. 


Secondly, the landlord of the studio I was renting, had decided on a whim that he wanted to use the place for himself. He wasn’t a bad guy; he just had a family emergency or something. I didn’t ask for details. He gave me a one-week notice. I didn’t like it, but I understood. No hard feelings. 


Thirdly, my parents’ business had gone bankrupt a few years before, so they couldn’t help me even if they wanted to. I don’t think they wanted to anyways, but the get-out-of-jail-free card came in handy for them, “We’d totally help you if we could!”. Something about their architect son flipping burgers didn’t sit right with them. 


As a result, apart from dealing with all the troubles of owning a new business of which I knew less than little about, I was faced with the challenge of finding somewhere to live. Fast. And cheap. Ideally, free. I resorted first to emergency solutions that wouldn’t be permanent but would buy me time. The first accommodation of my journey was one of my closest friend’s one bedroom apartment. He and his wife were traveling for a couple of weeks and had let me stay there for that period. He gave me one sole rule, “don’t sleep in the bed, sleep on the couch”. I suspect that the rule wasn’t of his creation. 

I moved into his place on a Thursday. On Friday, I broke the rule. It so happened that I hit it off with a girl in a bar and she wanted to go to “my place”. This was a rare occasion; I almost never sleep with girls I’ve just met. Not because I don’t want to, but because they don’t want to. I couldn’t let this one pass. So, we slept on their bed. Unbeknownst to me, my friend, who’s a bit on the paranoid side of things, had a camera system installed and he could see everything that was going on in his house. Needless to say, his wife didn’t appreciate my actions. They kicked me out, and I deserved it. No hard feelings. 


One of my mother’s sisters, aunt Griselda, heard about my situation and came to the rescue. I wasn’t very close to that side of the family, so her offer came as a surprise. I was given the royal treatment too; the service included transportation, accommodation and food. 

It was Wednesday. My uncle picked me up around mid-day in a red Volkswagen beetle he had recently brought back from death. My uncle was a handy man by nature and by profession. He was also a sleezy man, which meant that he was always slaving away on my aunt’s command to atone for his sins. The arrangement, as I learned, worked like a charm for both of them, and it had been that way for over forty years. I could vividly picture my aunt, half-burnt cigarette on her lips, glass of scotch in her hand, boiling or frying something in the kitchen, shouting with the delicacy of a truck driver, “Eh, Roberto de mierda, go pick up the kid!”. My uncle- Roberto- tail between his legs and as bowed as a guilty man can be, would mutter “yes, yes”; he’d abandon whatever he was doing, put on the first shirt he could find, and silently rush to the door. He’d cross it and come back a minute later. “What kid?” he’d ask trembling. “My sister’s kid you sleezy bastard!” 


My aunt welcomed me with fried chicken. The house was rather small, but it was well kept, and it possessed the coziness that only small spaces can achieve. Most of the furniture was familiar because it had been gifted to them by my mom when my folks had to move town.


Every day around noon, when the smell of burnt oil and cigarette smoke reached the second floor -where my cell-sized room was located- I knew it was time to get up and come down for lunch. “Diegoooooo” my aunt would shout even though she had already heard me coming down. I would sit on the table and watch the dramedy from the best seat money can buy. My aunt was hilarious but more often than not my uncle's laugh would be met with “what are you laughing at you sleezy old bastard"? 


That lasted a couple of months. The number of situations that required my presence in the Burger joint was growing, and my aunt’s house was a bit farther than ideal. By the time I left, things between my uncles had escalated to the point where my aunt had the man sleeping in a paper-thin mattress in the middle of the living room. Apparently, my uncle had slept with their 76-year-old neighbor in the bed he shared with my aunt, and she caught them red handed. I worked till late, so when I arrived home at 2 AM, I had to step over him to get to the stairs. Somehow, it seemed normal.

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