It’s been pretty quiet around here, and after today that may continue for a while. Right now the life that usually lends itself to documentation is demanding all of me, leaving me no reserves to devote to the role of spectator. The more I feel myself present in the moments of my life the more I question the impulse to document them, anyway. Yes, I want to capture birthdays and anniversaries and special “just because” moments on camera. No, I don’t think there’s any harm in posting crafts and home décor projects on my blog. But for a while everything in my life—dinner with friends, dates with Lovey, walks in the park, trips to see family—was subject to the question, “Can I blog about this?”
So I’ve taken a step back and asked some different questions: Why am I blogging? What do I want to share and what do I want to keep private? Why are people reading my blog? What should I do next?
I’m still sorting out what shape I want this blog to take in the future. I know I want to continue because I need to keep writing. I enjoy this format, but the content may change a little. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.
For now, the big news is that we’re moving! We spent a marathon day looking at houses—some cuter than others—and signed a lease on the very last one we looked at. It’s a duplex, a brick Cape Code from the 40s, and I’m going to love it! It took us a while to get there, though.
The first place we viewed was a shiny new condo, and while it was nice—NEW!!!—its floorplan was weird and it lacked personality.
Besides that, the guy detailing his car in the parking lot was blasting Foreigner’s “I’ve Been Waiting For a Girl Like You,” which I had to listen to Lovey sing for the next couple hours because, let’s face it, that song gets stuck in your head. (I’m going to have it stuck in my head again now that I’ve written about it!) I don’t know how long I could overhear a neighbor’s 80s ballads without going batty.
After that we visited a duplex with one of the most awkward kitchens I’ve ever seen. I kept tilting my head this way and that, trying to imagine myself cooking dinner somehow. All I could picture was my future self feeling really frustrated.
Then a few red flags came into play: the owner was currently living there–“between tenants,” he said—and wanted us to push back our move-in date by two weeks. No way, because work starts two days after our move-in date! Then he offered us some furniture, which I politely turned down. He smiled and said, “Okay; I’ll just store it in the basement, then.” The basement, which is part of the unit he was trying to rent to us. No, landlord, you will not be storing things in a place where I’m paying you to store my things. Sorry. Next appointment!
That one was a bust too. Its layout was the absolute worst: split level but instead of up-down, the stairs went up-sideways: up led to two bedrooms and a bathroom; down led to a living room with a kitchen behind it. Between tiny closets and room-sized but practically inaccessible crawlspaces, I knew that figuring out where to put things would be a minor nightmare. And did I mention the whole unit smelled like dirty diapers and Renuzit?
That was bad enough, but the next one was so sketchy we almost didn’t go in. The realtor/owner seemed bored and indifferent; he was brisk with me on the phone and after the handshakes when we came in the door he ignored us and went back to scrubbing the stove. Let’s just say that place needed more than scrubbing. Add to that the fact that it sat on a busy street, across from a gas station and a stone’s throw from dollar stores, PayDay Loans, and rundown ethnic restaurants, we were pretty sure this was not our kind of neighborhood. We asked about it and got this helpful response, “Well, I don’t know what you’re used to but there’s a lot worse.” Um, thanks for your time!
We ventured back to a quieter neighborhood for our next appointment, where a realtor showed the property to us and another prospective renter at the same time. We eavesdropped from the bedrooms for the answers to her questions about the neighbors, tried to pretend we weren’t sizing up her fitness as a renter at the same time we sized up the fitness of the rental itself, and squeezed past her in little doorways as we switched between rooms, all with good manners despite the strangeness of the situation.
The peculiar perk of that house: a closet with a shelf so deep it ran behind the next room. (“What would I put up there?” I wondered. And, more importantly, “How would I ever reach it again?” The realtor suggested that it would be the ideal spot to stash a Christmas tree.) The drawback: a creepy, dark basement with rafters that touched Lovey’s hair.
We were a little dejected and completely exhausted by the time we reached the last landlord. When she emerged from her car I saw she was wearing a paint-stained button-up and pink Crocs. I wasn’t sure what to think about that. The first unit she showed us made me think we’d wasted our whole day. We were going to have to call ShinyCondo guy and pay handsomely to live in a place neither of us found inspiring. I just could not abide the more-than-roughed-up linoleum, dark brown wrinkled carpet, and rusted tub I was seeing. (Those were all in different rooms, by the way.)
“Please let the next one be better!” I prayed. I couldn’t imagine a landlord who owned a unit as bad as what we’d just seen also having one so much better that I’d be willing to sign a line for it, but sometimes hope is all you have, right?
Well, hope does not disappoint. There it was, with its curved walkway, blue door, and shutters. There it was, with its dogwood scattering white confetti on the back deck.
Inside we found one of the least-disastrous kitchens we’d seen all day—still small, sans dishwasher, but I’m taking Homemaker as my next job title, so whatever. Handwashing it shall be. And small is no change: so far small kitchens have been my lot in life.
We’ll have a living room/office for Lovey and a craft room/writer’s nest for me. The master bedroom has his-and-hers closets and a dormer. (A dormer!)
Of course, this house also has a creepy basement, which just goes to show that even with all its charm it isn’t perfect. But for the next few years it will be home. Scrub brushes, paint, curtains, and lamps will go a long way toward making this borrowed place feel like ours for a while. I promise to show you some of those projects. Until then, thanks for your patience while I make a champion Goodwill pile and box up whatever’s left.