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Phil Sheridan


Phil Sheridan readingRight Place/Wrong Woman

We wake up with the sun
We don't leave the posada until hours later
Hours wasted dawdling and discussing

50 centavos buys the freshest Brazilian pineapple
Cut with a rusty machete
The paradox of a third world paradise

No tourist brochure could paint a better picture of Eden
Because there are no tourists
Only the two of us struggling for answers

Unseen, Africa is east. 
I’m in limbo on a deserted beach
Pondering a future that is not tropical

I discover the smiling cahonka river god washed ashore
Just like all my experiences here
Too heavy, too foreign to take stateside

We meander towards the sleepy village
I struggle with the waiter's Bahian accent|
I struggle with her angry English ultimatums

Shouldn't this climate relax me?
The endless waves pound out an unheralded warning
While too many questions pound my brain

Sun sets on my two-year tenure south of the equator
Unknown, the sun sets on this relationship
Right place, wrong woman


The Sheridans’ Abode

When I bought my 670 square foot house nearly three years ago, I rejoiced in getting away from roommates. Each Saturday I would wake up whenever, throw in a CD of my choice, and clean up any messes I had made throughout the week. I would vacuum and straighten until the CD was done. I loved cleaning my mess and my mess alone. Alone and free is the way any single individual should be living.

In college, I loved having roommates. They provided companionship, entertainment, different perspectives, and above all, cheaper rent. However, this came at a cost. I have lived with a lot of different types. I started with the midnight puker in a dorm room. This followed by sharing a house with an anti-social alcoholic, a pack-a-day smoker, a bi-weekly bather and Mr. Late Rent. I moved in with the nocturnal girlfriend and a woman who would sell me her CDs to go to the liquor store. I have also lived with potheads, non-cleaners, and outright jerks. But it was the food stealing Mr. Pyramid Scheme that really drove me to look for my own house. To be fair, the best of these are still great friends and some of my fondest memories come from times with roommates. 

I now live in peace except for my financial drawbacks. Balancing my checkbook, I have often had the "I Need a Roommate" thought flash across my brain. These moments only last for the nano-second it takes to look around my hut. Two 9X9 bedrooms, a tiny kitchen, one bathroom: no way. The only way I could live with someone in this box is if they shared a bed with me.

One June morning I get a voice message. “Hey Phil, its Adam. I’m thinking I’m going to need to be moving in for a while,” my twin brother reported.

The hurt in his voice awoke an instant twin protectionist alarm. I knew Adam was having marital problems but he was really dedicated to his marriage. I figured he would faithfully work it out. Apparently she was not as dedicated or as faithful. 

I quickly called back. My twin is hurting and I had to help. I left a brief message, “Hey Man, of course you can. I'll clean out the other bedroom.” 

That was no small task as it turned out. Dumping old clothes from the closet into boxes on the porch, I had time for the reality that I was getting a roommate to set in. 

Adam and I have usually gotten along. We were inseparable growing up and I feel exceptionaly lucky to have lived my eighteen years of childhood with my best friend under the same roof. We were teammates, confidants, pals, and study partners and so much more for each other. 

Being twins, we were constantly trying to find our own identities and escape being referred to as "The twins." While I enjoyed the attention of having a “clone,” it was pretty clear we wanted to be individuals. Adam had once chided the school newspaper for citing us as “The Sheridans” and not individuals. I even went so far as to grow the back of my hair out in the then-fashionable “mullet” haircut, something Adam never fails to tease me about now. (He always kept his hair short and safe.) 

It wasn’t surprising that we chose different universities. During these years, we met different people, had different experiences, dated different kinds of women, and drifted a little apart. 

After graduating nearly 10 years ago, the drifting grew. I went to teach in free-flowing, easygoing Brazil for two years, an experience which did nothing for my punctuality. Adam moved to the twin cities from the small town of Morris and married a highly structured woman. This turned out to be the most difficult factor in my relationship with my brother. Try as I did, I just could not see eye-to-eye with his wife and after one too many attempts, I quit trying. We would make an effort to hang out just the two of us, but busy lives took priority all too often.

The idea of getting reacquainting with Adam excited me much more than the idea of getting a roommate. I had mixed emotions about sharing my little space. True, my girlfriend stays over at my house frequently but she does have her own place if we need to be away from each other. Roommates don't have this luxury. 

"I am still the boss around here," I told myself. "Besides, between summer school, vacations and part time jobs, how much time could we have to get in each other's way?"

This turned out to be the case for the first week. We would communicate through notes and brief conversations. I made room for his stuff in the medicine cabinet and he went to Target to get "real Q-tips" for his ears, not the cheap knock off currently available in my bathroom. One night we finally had time for beers. We rehashed our lives, mostly breaking down his separation. Due to my strained relationship with his wife, Adam hadn't confided in me about their problems with me, knowing I had less than an objective view. 

His story was a two-beer doozey, with little hope of reconciliation. With each new injustice he shared I felt more of his anger and hurt like I used to when we were closer. Once, during an elementary basketball game, he had fallen down and got up tearful. The coach had called a time out and sat Adam down next to him to make sure he was all right. Before he knew it, the coach had two crying players, one for good reason, and the other because he couldn't take watching his brother in pain. 

To see Adam hurting like this tore me apart. But on a purely selfish level, it felt great to know he wanted to confide in me, that he needed me again. Growing up we had shared all secrets, no questions asked. “We are thirty-one, not eight, and these are real problems” I had to remind myself. It still took me back to an easier, happier time. 

Adam may be staying a lot longer than he thought. Every day I look forward to seeing him and hanging out. If he's not home, I call him like a worried mother or an excited playmate. 

I get my best friend back but I also get a pretty great roommate. He is clean, neat and doesn't need prompting to do things like take out the garbage. He even knows the recycling schedule. He is dying to organize my porch and basement. The other day he left me a voice message and casually mentioned that he had loaded the fridge with beer, including some of his own tasty home brew. I’d better stock up on quality Q-tips.

Sheridan brothers