Aug. 28, 2020

Leaving The Du Barry

Leaving The Du Barry

How do you move on when you move back to your childhood home?

According to a July study from the Pew Research Center, around 3% of Americans have moved because of COVID-19, many of them adults who moved back in with their parents. One of those people is Theo Greenly, a writer and radio producer in Los Angeles. When the pandemic hit, both he and his partner lost their jobs. Unsure about when they would start working again, they decided to move in with family to save money. Specifically, to move in with Theo’s mom in the house that he lived in during high school. Theo documented the process, and he produced this story about it. You can find more of Theo’s work at or follow him on Twitter @TheoGreenly. You can join “The Neighborhood” along with these wonderful, thoughtful, generous people by becoming a patron at Who’s in “The Neighborhood”: Allison Sebastian, Adrian Cobb, Nathalie Stewart, Ben Lehman, Caroline Martin, Clark Buckner, Cody Spriggs, Dan Burns, Em Vo, Eric Detweiler, Gina, Griffin Bonham, Heather Price, John Kesling, Landon Rives, Marc Kochamba, Patrick Black, Patrick Gillis, Ray Ware, Ryan Arnett, Samuel Adams, Tom and Rachel Kraft, Nikki Black, Hunter and Bonnie Moore, Newton Dominey, Bea Troxel, Craig and Brenda Burns, Laurel Dean, Travis Hall, Clark Hill, Tony Gonzalez, Christopher Mastin and my mom Tonya Lewis (thanks mom!) Visit our website at Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts so we can take down Joe Rogan!!! Music from the Blue Dot Sessions, Dan Burns and B. Roost3r Our sonic logo at the beginning of the episode is by Dallas Taylor’s company Defacto Sound. Dallas makes a podcast about sound called Twenty Thousand Hertz listen at

Leaving The Du Barry

[00:00:00] Jakob Lewis: [00:00:00] Hey Cariad.

Cariad Harmon: [00:00:07] Hey!

Jakob Lewis: [00:00:07] So take a look at this.

Cariad Harmon: [00:00:09] Okay. Well this looks like a photograph of some kind.

Jakob Lewis: [00:00:14] Yes. This is a picture of a high school girl from my high school.

Cariad Harmon: [00:00:17] Is this, um, what you would call a senior photo?

Jakob Lewis: [00:00:21] Exactly. So she's wearing a pink sweater, awkwardly leaning on a tree and that's senior photos in America. Do they even have those in the UK?

Cariad Harmon: [00:00:31] Not really. Or at least we didn't in my school. I can't really say, I remember getting photos like that taken after I was a little kid in primary school. Um, but there is a lot that's familiar about this photograph. It's very '90s.

Jakob Lewis: [00:00:45] Yeah. It's kinda kinda got like a Glamour Shot's feel.

Cariad Harmon: [00:00:48] Yeah.

Jakob Lewis: [00:00:48] Well, there, there's a story about how this awkward high school photo came back into my life recently.

Cariad Harmon: [00:00:55] Okay. Do tell.

Jakob Lewis: [00:00:55] Uh, so, last year, my sister [00:01:00] moved into the house that we grew up in, in Missouri.

Cariad Harmon: [00:01:02] Okay.

Jakob Lewis: [00:01:03] So she and her husband did a bunch of work, ripping up carpet and painting and cleaning and stuff.

And in my old bedroom, uh, where my poster of guitar chords used to hang next to my poster of Michael Jordan, just below that behind the baseboard heaters was this photo.

Cariad Harmon: [00:01:20] Ah, okay. All right. So it says something on the back. It's kind of hard to read.

Jakob Lewis: [00:01:25] Yeah.

Cariad Harmon: [00:01:25] It's all faded and yellow and it says, "Jakob, hey, thanks for writing your name on your picture..."

Jakob Lewis: [00:01:36] You're welcome.

Cariad Harmon: [00:01:38] "...I don't know what to say. Maybe one day we will meet outside." And then there's a little heart with something in the middle of it. What is that in the middle?

Jakob Lewis: [00:01:49] Yeah, I think it's just the word "Ya". Like, "Love ya". You know, high school stuff.

Cariad Harmon: [00:01:53] Oh! Cute.

Jakob Lewis: [00:01:54] Yeah.

Cariad Harmon: [00:01:55] Okay. Yeah. And then it is signed "Adrian". So was this [00:02:00] like a thing where you swapped pictures with the girls you thought were cute or something in your last year of high school?

Jakob Lewis: [00:02:07] Unfortunately, yeah, because that means that I don't know, maybe a hundred people have a picture of me in a turtleneck sweater with an acoustic guitar and a bunch of acne. Um, I definitely...

Cariad Harmon: [00:02:20] I wanna have that picture!

Jakob Lewis: [00:02:22] you don't. I, I definitely had a crush on Adrian and the thing is like...

Cariad Harmon: [00:02:30] She's very cute.

Jakob Lewis: [00:02:30] I have no idea what that message means on the back. Like...

Cariad Harmon: [00:02:33] Yeah.

Jakob Lewis: [00:02:34] ...some inside joke that is lost for all time. And just as an aside for those who support us on Patreon, I will put this photo up -- the front and the back -- when I post the ad free version of this episode.

Cariad Harmon: [00:02:45] That is worth the membership right there. Can we, can you put on the photograph of you? Do you have access to that?

Jakob Lewis: [00:02:53] There's going to be a super ultra tier that will unlock for, for a thousand bucks a month for the picture. [00:03:00] But I, I brought this along today to really just point out the weirdness, of later in life, like as an adult, living in your childhood home.

Cariad Harmon: [00:03:09] Yeah.

Jakob Lewis: [00:03:10] Because when I visited my sister last Christmas, it was weird.

Cariad Harmon: [00:03:13] Uh, huh.

Jakob Lewis: [00:03:13] Like, I mean, being there it's like layer upon layer of memories, you know? Good, bad, weird, fun, all just stacked up on top of each other. And I have to be an adult in my childhood space.

Cariad Harmon: [00:03:26] Yes.

Jakob Lewis: [00:03:26] So before we go any further, I'm Jakob Lewis.

Cariad Harmon: [00:03:29] And I'm Cariad Harmon.

Jakob Lewis: [00:03:31] And you are listening to Neighbors.

Cariad Harmon: [00:03:33] A show about what connects us.

Jakob Lewis: [00:03:35] So earlier this summer, the Pew Research Center released a study that says 3% of Americans have moved because of COVID-19. Many of them are adults who are moving back in with their parents, into their childhood homes.

Cariad Harmon: [00:03:49] Well, Theo Greenlee is one of these adults. He's a producer and writer living in LA and he and his partner both lost their jobs when the pandemic hit.

Jakob Lewis: [00:03:58] Theo was living in a [00:04:00] really cool 1920s apartment building with vaulted ceilings and stained glass called the Du Barry. I've seen pictures and it just has that, like, old Hollywood charm to it. Theo shares this story about how to move on when you move back.

Cariad Harmon: [00:04:15] Today's story, Leaving the Du Barry.

Theo Greenlee: [00:04:21] Floriana and I were sitting on the settee in our apartment talking to our couples' counselor over video chat. It was April in LA and we had both lost our jobs 'cause of coronavirus. We worried about how we were going to pay our rent.

My mother offered to let us move in with her in Orange County.

Floriana loved the idea, but me? I wasn't so keen. Still though, she tried to convince me. "It'll be nice to spend time with your mom," she said, "plus, we'll get to have a backyard." I said I'd think about it. And Floriana wasted no time. She told our [00:05:00] counselor that it looked like we decided to take my mom up on her offer.

"Well," I jumped in, "I don't know that we've decided, but I'm coming around to the idea." I insisted that we needed to be balanced. Rational. Floriana insisted that we simply could not afford to stay. So we looked at our expenses to see what we could cut. LA times subscription? Cancel it. Monthly donation to the Sierra Club? Not anymore.

I even agreed to drink less wine. But the numbers didn't lie and Floriana was right. We couldn't afford this place. We were going to have to move in with my mother.

Theo's Mom: [00:05:49] Hello?

Floriana: [00:05:49] Hey, how's it going?

Theo's Mom: [00:05:53] Hello?

Floriana: [00:05:53] Can you hear us?

Theo's Mom: [00:05:56] Yeah.

Floriana: [00:05:56] Hi.

Theo Greenlee: [00:05:57] Hi.

Theo's Mom: [00:05:58] Hi.

[00:06:00] Theo Greenlee: [00:06:00] We just gave our notice...our 30-days-notice to vacate.

Theo's Mom: [00:06:04] Oh, so, okay. So it'll be around the middle of May.

Floriana: [00:06:07] Yeah.

Theo's Mom: [00:06:07] So, um, I don't think we're going to need to quarantine because you've been quarantined where you are.

Floriana: [00:06:13] I feel like it'd be better to be on the safe side.

Theo's Mom: [00:06:16] Well, I thought that what we would do is that, we'd wear our masks. We'll do social distancing. We'll wipe everything  down. We'll wear gloves without doing...putting up the plastic and everything.

Floriana: [00:06:31] Yeah, that's a good idea.

Theo's Mom: [00:06:32] Alright, do you have any concerns that you want to talk about or any thoughts or concerns or anything?

Theo Greenlee: [00:06:40] I think this is going to be awful.

Theo's Mom: [00:06:42] Yeah, I know...

Floriana: [00:06:44] Try to be optimistic, honey.

Theo's Mom: [00:06:47] No, he doesn't want to give up his having his Shangri-La with his girl...

Floriana: [00:06:54] Yeah.

Theo Greenlee: [00:06:55] My mother was right. I didn't want to give up my Shangri-La. [00:07:00] Oh, our apartment was grand. Crown molding and stained glass. It was the fanciest place I'd ever lived. Built in 1929 when gentlemen wore hats and they still called movies "pictures".

Sure the building was a bit run down, but that just meant that Floriana and I could afford it. Well, not anymore.

Theo's Mom: [00:07:21] Theo you have asthma and I don't want you to get sick.

Floriana: [00:07:25] Yeah, he has asthma and we're unemployed, so...

Theo Greenlee: [00:07:28] Now we were going to be moving back into the house I lived in in high school. A beige tract home in a beehive of identical beige tract homes right off the toll road.

I winced at the idea. And I began to resent Floriana's positivity.

And how do you feel about moving in with your mother-in-law?

Floriana: [00:07:47] I feel optimistic about it. Also, I'm really excited because it's spring time and this is right when you're supposed to be planting things.

Theo Greenlee: [00:07:56] What are you going to plant?

Well, tomatoes are always fun because you can get [00:08:00] so much off of them.

While Floriana is dreaming a future of carrots and onions. I'm brooding and holding onto the past.

Floriana: [00:08:07] Onions are yummy. We could do peppers.

Theo Greenlee: [00:08:10] I tell her that I want our last month in this jewelbox of an apartment to be a month of poetry and roses. Of listening to Mozart records and reading Keats to each other. A month of making pasta and love.

And that's how it goes.

We spend that month watching French films in black and white. And memorizing soliloquies from Shakespeare -- all the pretentious, fancy, aspirational, little things we tried to build our lives out of. Two weeks go by and then it's our anniversary. Five years together, four of them spent in the apartment.

Our whole relationship has developed inside these walls. I really can't imagine what our lives will look like someplace else. [00:09:00] I put a record on the turntable and we dance while eucalyptus scratches at the windows. I try not to think of the last day, but then just like that, it's here.

It's our last night in the apartment and Floriana has the microphone.

Floriana: [00:09:22] This is Floriana and I'm doing recording now. It's Saturday, May 9th at the Du Barry Apartments. It's the last night before we're moving. The last night we're going to sleep here.

Theo Greenlee: [00:09:37] Everything is packed or gone, except for two vinyl chairs, some kitchen utensils and the cuckoo clock I got in Switzerland when I was 19.

Floriana: [00:09:44] This is what it sounds like...

So that's what the cuckoo clock sounds like. [00:10:00] Okay. Now we're in the dining room.

Theo Greenlee: [00:10:03] Floriana wanders around the apartment speaking into the recorder.

Floriana: [00:10:07] Now we're in the kitchen. I don't like being in here when it's all empty like this. I feel sad that we didn't stay here longer, and...but we felt really nervous about staying here and our unemployment running out and then just being totally broke. So we just felt like it would be better to move, but now that we're doing it, I feel so sad 'cause I liked it here a lot.

Theo Greenlee: [00:10:42] We eat popcorn and drink champagne in the empty, echoey, room.

Next week, they'll fix the place up for the new tenants, hiding our lives beneath a fresh layer of paint, sealing away our ghosts into the walls.

[00:11:00] We've been living at my mother's for about a week now. And it is loud. Everything is loud. Floriana and I are worried about bringing COVID into the house. So we climb into the bedroom through the back window and then go into the shower. This always sets the dog off, but everything sets the dog off. We go around the side gate, close the bedroom window, even the sound of a light switch.

And then there's my mother.

Theo's Mom: [00:11:49] And I'm like a roller coaster...I'm like a roller coaster, a hurricane they're moving into.

Theo Greenlee: [00:11:56] It's been a long week, but we are settling [00:12:00] in. We all watch movies together. Floriana and me sitting on the couch with masks on. My mom six feet away in her chair. I'm surprised how much I like being here.

Floriana on the other hand -- she's having a harder time.

Floriana: [00:12:15] I was looking forward to moving so much that I didn't realize how much I was going to miss the Du Barry until we weren't there anymore. And it, by then it was too late. And so I feel really sad about that.

Theo Greenlee: [00:12:29] Floriana and I are sitting on the bed in my old bedroom, talking to our couples' counselor over video chat.

It's the bedroom where I used to read travel guides to France and Spain. And imagine a future me who drank wine on fire escapes in grand old apartments. Floriana tells our therapist that she feels depressed. Sad to have left our old life behind. He suggests a ceremony to mark the change. That we write down all the things we miss about the [00:13:00] apartment onto scraps of paper, take them to the backyard and burn them. That the smoke may rise into the air and return to us in a future life.

We stand out on my mom's back patio, now also Floriana's and my back patio. There are birds and succulents and vines growing up the walls. It's so much more beautiful than I ever remembered it being in high school, when all I wanted was to leave.

Floriana lights a candle.

Floriana: [00:13:34] Here are all the things that I loved about living at the Du Barry and what I miss now.

Theo Greenlee: [00:13:39] We read from our scraps of paper one by one.

Floriana: [00:13:43] I miss waking up and turning the clicky stove on under the white ceramic kettle and picking out our favorite mugs out of the drawer to make tea in.

Theo Greenlee: [00:13:53] Pouring apple brandy into the fancy glasses you got at Goodwill.

Floriana: [00:13:57] I miss drawing back the blue and white [00:14:00] curtains each morning and tying them...

Theo Greenlee: [00:14:02] I'm not really one for spiritual rituals, but I guess you do need to mourn the old life before you can build a new one. One day when all of this is over, we'll build a new home together. We'll hang up the blue and white curtains, wind the cuckoo clock and plug back in the record player.

But for now, we bring the scraps of paper to the flame, the scraps turn to ash, which falls, and smoke, which rises up into the sky.

Floriana: [00:14:35] I miss the early days at the Du Barry when taking the subway to work downtown was fun and easy.

Theo Greenlee: [00:14:43] The Palm trees in front of the brown brick apartments.

Floriana: [00:14:48] I miss the pink tiles in the bathroom, even though some of them were broken and they were so hard to clean.

Theo Greenlee: [00:14:55] The curtains you made.

I really liked watching you [00:15:00] paint the walls. We didn't use brushes or rollers or anything. You just put like sandwich gloves on your hands and spread it around the walls.

Jakob Lewis: [00:15:17] All right. Man, that reminds me of the first place I lived in right after I got married. At least in terms of cute little memories. Their place sounds a lot nicer than my first place.

Cariad Harmon: [00:15:30] Uh, well, we will be back after a very short break.

Jakob Lewis: [00:15:33] And you can use this break time to go leave us that sweet, sweet, five star review on Apple Podcasts you've been putting off.

Cariad Harmon: [00:15:40] We'll be right back.

 You know what I want to know, Jakob?

Jakob Lewis: [00:15:56] What?

Cariad Harmon: [00:15:57] I [00:16:00] want...I want to know what it is right now during this crazy season that you absolutely love. I want to know what you're into. I want to know what floats your boat.

Jakob Lewis: [00:16:11] Yeah. So like, so like a good, uh, a good thing.

Cariad Harmon: [00:16:14] Yes.

Jakob Lewis: [00:16:14] Like not a negative thing.

Cariad Harmon: [00:16:16] I've heard enough negative things.

Jakob Lewis: [00:16:17] Taskmaster.

Cariad Harmon: [00:16:19] Taskmaster.

Jakob Lewis: [00:16:20] Yep.

Cariad Harmon: [00:16:20] Okay. Explain.

Jakob Lewis: [00:16:22] Taskmaster. It is a British TV show on, uh, well, I watch it through YouTube and it is like, it's kinda like a game show for comedians where five comedians compete doing tasks that are assigned by the host.

Cariad Harmon: [00:16:39] Hilarious. British comedians. Yes.

Jakob Lewis: [00:16:40] And the host is the taskmaster.

Cariad Harmon: [00:16:43] Got it.

Jakob Lewis: [00:16:43] Um, and the deal is that he assigns these tasks... they do them, but they don't do them together, typically. They do them separately. So it's things like, uh, they walk into a room and they open up a little envelope and there's a watermelon sitting on the table and it says, "eat as much of this [00:17:00] watermelon as you can in two minutes," but there's no knives. It's just a whole watermelon.

Cariad Harmon: [00:17:04] Oh, you've got to figure out how to get into that thing.

Jakob Lewis: [00:17:07] It, it, well, yeah, exactly. And it's the whole kind of idea is that it's a psychology experiment to see how different people approach things. And then they edit those together. And during the actual show, you sit and watch these five comedians approach this differently.

And some take it very literally like one person just picks it up and smashes it on the ground and acts like an animal just starts like shoveling watermelon.

Cariad Harmon: [00:17:30] I think that would be my move.

Jakob Lewis: [00:17:31] Yeah, I think so too. Uh, but they have this house of stuff at their disposal, so they could go get a knife. They could do things, uh, but they have a time limit.

Cariad Harmon: [00:17:41] Oh, I didn't know that. Okay. Got it.

Jakob Lewis: [00:17:43] Yeah. Yeah. So there's all sorts of options. Um, but yeah, then they watch them and then they get graded and there's like five or six tasks each episode. And then they there's this, you win the episode, but then you also win the series so that you follow these same five comedians for a 10-episode series.

[00:18:00] And it's just, it's like the perfect level of "this is interesting" and it's also really funny and mindless. And, I've gotta be honest, one of the things I really love about the, like, show is the design of the show itself.

Cariad Harmon: [00:18:14] Oh!

Jakob Lewis: [00:18:14] I think the format of the show is really clever. Um, so as, like, a producer, like how they thought about it and then executed it is really interesting. And the last thing I'll say is that I love it so much that I did as a mini version of it, myself, with my inlaws and my brother-in-law and his wife.

Cariad Harmon: [00:18:33] Of course you did.

Jakob Lewis: [00:18:34] And it was a lot of fun.

Cariad Harmon: [00:18:36] Uh, that sounds awesome.

Jakob Lewis: [00:18:39] Taskmaster. What about you? What are you into right now?

Cariad Harmon: [00:18:43] Well,Jakob, I never thought that these words would come out of my mouth, but, um, I've gotten...I've gotten really into working out, man. I pump iron now. That's a thing I do.

Jakob Lewis: [00:18:58] Hold up, like, do you have like a weight [00:19:00] room?

Cariad Harmon: [00:19:00] Um, I have, it, my studio is now a double, uh, like, you know, I track Neighbors in it. And then I also, uh, lift weights.

They're free weights. I don't have too many of them right now. Um, but I've been doing squats and, um, lunges and trying to do pushups, which I've never been able to do, still can't, but I'm working on it. Um, and it's been really cool, John and I have been doing it together and I've never stuck to an exercise routine like this, where I've actually seen myself get stronger.

Jakob Lewis: [00:19:38] Yeah!

Cariad Harmon: [00:19:38] And so that started to happen and that's, yeah, I've, I've gotten into it. I mean, it hurts like hell and I hate it while I'm doing it, but it's good to see the progress, you know? So, so that's yeah, I've I don't even know who I am anymore.

Jakob Lewis: [00:19:53] That is awesome.

[00:20:00] Well, we have a real treat. Um, we're going to check in on our, on our neighbor, Theo, from the story called in and let us know what he's loving right now.

Cariad Harmon: [00:20:09] Alright! I want to hear it.

Theo Greenlee: [00:20:13] Hey, Jakob and Cariad this is Theo from the story. I'm just calling to tell you something that I've been really into lately. When the pandemic hit in March, Floriana and I started reciting poetry out loud to each other, kind of a poem of the day sort of thing.

We don't do it every day, you know, but maybe a few times a week and we've been keeping it up and it's a, I don't know, I love it. Something to bring a little light into our world.

So right now I am up visiting my dad in Oregon, and we've been reciting the poem of the day up here as well. So he's going to read you a little something.

Edward Greenlee: [00:20:49] Hey neighbors, my name's Edward, I'm going to read a poem to you by Amy Lowell. It's called Petals.

Life is a stream 

On which we strew

[00:21:00] Petal by petal the flower of our heart;

The end lost in dream,

They float past our view,

We only watch their glad, early start.

Freighted with hope,

 Crimsoned with joy,

We scatter the leaves of our opening rose;

Their widening scope,

Their distant employ,

We never shall know. And the stream as it flows

Sweeps them away,

Each one is gone

Ever beyond into infinite ways.

We alone stay

While years hurry on,

The flower fared forth, though its fragrance still stays.

Theo Greenlee: [00:21:37] Bravo.

Edward Greenlee: [00:21:39] Thank you.

Theo Greenlee: [00:21:40] Gravitas in that voice. Are you a baritone?

Yeah. All right, neighbors. Well, stay safe, everyone. And, uh, look forward to hearing the show.

Cariad Harmon: [00:21:51] If you would like to contribute your voice to the show, record a voice memo of yourself and send it to [00:22:00] For the next episode, we want to know how your neighbors have helped you recently or how you've helped your neighbors.

Jakob Lewis: [00:22:07] That's right. Send us a voice memo at Thanks to the members of the neighborhood on Patreon. And Cariad, we have a new member this week, Christopher Mastin. Thank you so much for your support. What a person.

Cariad Harmon: [00:22:22] Woohoo! Thank you, Christopher!

Jakob Lewis: [00:22:23] If you want support show and get some cool stuff, too, go to and join. You can be a part of our kind, intelligent, and thoughtful community with people like Christopher Mastin.

Cariad Harmon: [00:22:37] Our fun little sonic logo at the beginning is from Dallas Taylor and Defacto Sound. Check out his podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz.

Music is by the Blue Dot Sessions. And this song is by Dan Burns.

Jakob Lewis: [00:22:50] Additional music from B. Roost3r whose latest album Bummer Vibes is available now.

Cariad Harmon: [00:22:56] Neighbors is hosted and produced by me.

Jakob Lewis: [00:22:58] And me.

Leave us [00:23:00] a rating on Apple Podcasts so we can overtake Joe Rogan.

Cariad Harmon: [00:23:04] Damn you Joe Rogan.

Jakob Lewis: [00:23:06] I'm Jakob Lewis.

Cariad Harmon: [00:23:07] And I'm Cariad Harmon. And we're reminding you...

Jakob Lewis: [00:23:10] And we're reminding you to get to know your neighbors.

Cariad Harmon: [00:23:15] ...get to know your neighbors.

GFS: [00:23:22] Neighbors is a production of Great Feelings Studios.