So long, Burt
It was backed up to his apartment when I got home from work Friday afternoon – a U-Haul truck of about mid-sized length. Burt was moving out.
Burt is a nice gentleman that I met shortly after I moved here back in Spring of 2008. I have to admit I was a bit intimidated upon first impression. His clean-shaven head and tattoos up around his neck definitely had me on my guard. I’ve always tried to be non-judgmental, but admittedly there are times when I allow first impressions to put that gate up, albeit temporarily. This seemed especially so upon starting over – I had trouble trusting anyone.
Burt would always be the one in the parking lot helping another resident do something – moving, working on a car, etc. Everyone knew him by first name, and he knew everyone else’s name as well. We used to have a handicapped neighbor who resided here for years that Burt was always helping out in some way. I’d just gotten home from work one day last summer when he walked over and told me our neighbor had passed away that morning. It was obviously emotional for him.
The office staff where I live took in three full grown cats abandoned by former tenants, and paid for their care, spay/neutering and shots. They then had the task of finding them homes. They decided to keep the last one (Mr. Whiskers) as their very own in the office – and trust me, this cat has it very good. One of the other adoptive parents? Burt.
As I walked over Friday to tell him goodbye, it appeared that the move itself was emotional for him. “I’m moving back to the beach where my girlfriend lives. I don’t know… guess this whole thing makes me vulnerable again”. It kind of hit home when he said that. Committing your self wholly to your relationship – giving up your own place to live, many of your belongings, furniture – your own home that you worked so hard to build – feeling as though you’re losing, in a sense, your very own identity. I quickly shook off the Ally McBeal psycho-flash I’d just had, and told him the first thing that came to my mind. “Nothing worth having is without risk. Go for it.”
You truly were a staple of the community, Burt. Good luck – and God speed.