Friday, April 14, 2006

Searching for Home (1st in a series)

What is upheaval, if not a good thing to blog about, eh? I decided yesterday that I could make our journey to find our new apartment a little blog series for you to enjoy. :) And I thought, maybe this might help me keep a good perspective on the "adventure" side of new beginnings.

Yesterday we were given a tour of one apartment on the other side of town from us, down in the "flats" instead of the "hills." (We currently live on the edge of the hills.)

This place had been advertised quite a bit on the online source that we're heavily relying on. Every day or so the landlady would update her description and post it again. Honestly, it was the ever-shifting descriptions of this one little place that finally made me give in and set a time to see it. I had a feeling it wouldn't be right for us (one description said, "Perfect for fixer-uppers and carpenters.") I cannot adequately express how much that does not describe D and me, by any means!!!

Other key phrases from some of the descriptions included: "We need someone to love this handmade space;" "Drawback: you must pass through the second bedroom in order to get to the rest of the apartment;" "HUGE bathroom;" "If you're the kind of person who needs your spaces defined and every corner square, this place is not for you."

But the last description was titled something like: "Small garden, quiet retreat." And, well, I'm such a sucker for these kinds of words.

We arrived for our appointment at 12:15, to a front yard that was bustling with toddlers, infants, a woman with magenta hair, teenagers, and the landlady at the center of it all. We descended down the sloping driveway which led to a door in what used to be a garage. Before going inside, we paused by an old motorcycle, parked (for months? years?) against the side of the house. The landlady made sweeping gestures towards the wooden fence lying in pieces around us: "We're gonna have this fixed, so it's, y'know, clear whose space is whose," she said, glancing up at the magenta-haired woman who was sitting on the steps, now well above us, who apparently lived in the rest of the house.

We moved into the entry way where a computer was set on a desk in the corner. A tiny window was above it, letting in dusty streams of light. My first thought, upon entering the space was, "Huh, the electricity must have been turned off after the last tenants left."

Then we went into the first bedroom (the one you have to pass through to get to the rest of the apartment). A twin-sized mattress was set on top of a small, built-in loft, about waist high. There was no window in this space at all. A black cat slept on the unmade bed. A dim lamp on the ceiling made a feeble effort to light the space. ("So, okay, electricity is on. And, people are living here now?" I thought as I gazed at the unmade bed.)

Beyond this room was the kitchen and another space just beyond that which, if it were a livingroom would leave no space for a table. Nor would there be any space for anything much larger than a single love seat. Which, if you put that in, might take up any room for a television or stereo.

Beyond that room, there was the HUGE bathroom. Which was, in fact, HUGE. (Why?) HUGE with no door to it, though. Leaving the toilet exposed to the livingroom/dining room/kitchen. There was also a bathtub, with a european-stye shower hose (no mounted shower head, no shower curtain). The rest of the HUGE bathroom was some kind of tiled shelf(?) that extended from just above the tub, out to the wall (about eight feet by four feet). There was also a washer-dryer stacked unit smushed into the corner that was in indescribable condition. (No, really, you do not want me to describe it to you.)

Off to the side from the bathroom/dining room/kitchen, there was the second bedroom, which the landlady warned would get "very, very cold" during the winter because there was no heat in the building. There was another built in, waist high loft for a full-sized mattress. Upon which a woman sat talking on her phone with her sleeping infant beside her.

The landlady opened a window in this room, and instructed us to climb up on the built-in cabinets in front of it and poke our heads out: "Your boy could just climb out the window," she said encouragingly (the window opened out at ground level), "and play in that alley there!" Great!

You know, we actually considered this place for quite some time as we moved about the space. It was, dear reader, the exact opposite of the cookie-cutter apartment! Despite the holes in the walls and floors, the staircase that went nowhere ("You can use that as a bookshelf!" enthused the landlady"), the cabinetry that at first appeared warped but on second inspection was actually built that way--well, we thought, "Maybe we could make this work."

But eventually we decided it would feel as temporary as any space we've ever been in. And that we really couldn't make it work--maybe someone who loves to tinker, to repair, who has a vision for creating space, who doesn't mind peeing in the diningroom/living room, could go with it. But that's not really how we would describe ourselves on first pass.

So the search continues . . .

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