Worse Than Speed Dating

Speed DatingI know it’s hard to believe, but I have found something that is actually worse than speed dating.

It’s worse than any of the numerous dating sites I’ve dabbled on in the last ten years.

Honestly, it could be one of the worst things I’ve had to do…well…ever.

What could be so bad?

Apartment hunting.

I know. You think I’m crazy, but let me just give you a taste of  how the last several weeks have gone for me and maybe you’ll agree.

For those of you that have read my most recent post, you know that I have made the very painful decision to move to put myself in a better financial situation. Now, let me say that when I was in my 20’s, moving wasn’t a big deal. It was kind of exciting – finding a new place to live, seeing what’s out there, and then picking up and doing it all over again if I didn’t like the space.

But I’m old(er) now and I am not relishing the idea of packing, let alone the backbreaking moving of my furniture and things over a weekend. If I had the money, I would JUMP at the chance to hire someone to come do it all for me while I sipped Mai Tai’s poolside.

But this is not to be.

So here I am, just a mere 20 days out from having to relocate and I have been madly scrambling to find a new home for myself and my dog. Being the technologically savvy person that I am, I jumped right into the online apartment finding sites and set up alerts for apartments that fit my criteria (cheap and dog friendly) and the race was ON!

I diligently researched property after property analyzing the drive times, amenities that I was probably going to never use, looked at demographics, crime rates and location appeal. I created a huge spreadsheet of what I liked and why, broke it down by area of town, and got ready to march right into the perfect place.

I scheduled a day off from work, made a list of the properties that looked to be just about perfect, and set off to find my new home!

Now let me just reiterate that I have seen these properties ON LINE. They have beautiful websites, lovely pictures and their marketing teams have done a stellar job of writing enticing descriptions that make people want to come reside on their property…

..and then you get there.manhole

Yep, just like the dreaded dating sites, the pictures from the website have been photo-shopped to within an inch of their lives. Flowers and landscaping have been added, floor plans “adjusted” to be more attractive and spacious, and I swear the “communal” areas are just architectural renderings of what the space “could someday look like” if someone actually took the time to do the work.

Ok. Maybe a couple of the communal areas looked essentially the same, but there was little to no resemblance to anything else.

But I was not going to be dissuaded! I had a task at hand and, dang it! I was going to accomplish it!

Honestly, I would have preferred to have been speed dating. At least there I could sit still, let potential suitors come to me, and I could numb the disappointment with a nice glass of wine.

Sigh.

Don’t think it could possible be that bad? Oh, you poor, unsuspecting soul. Let me give you just a snapshot.

Property number one: Located just a couple of miles from where I grew up, this little gem had probably last seen an exterior paint job somewhere in the  mid ’80’s. The fencing was collapsing, the balconies looked as if they could fall off the face of the building at anytime, and did I mention that I passed not only a drug deal but a drug arrest on my way TO the property itself?

Forging ahead!

Property number two: Interior hallways that reek of an interesting combination of both Indian food and marijuana. The carpets are falling apart under my feet as we walk to the apartment itself, and the electronic dead bolt, knowing how bad the interior is, doesn’t even want to let anyone in. It finally, with a very loud moan, let us enter to see the dingy, run-down space it was hiding. Metal bi-fold closet doors from the 70’s, popcorn paint covering up untold years of grime, and despite the fresh coat of paint and carpet, the ever-present permeation of the exterior odor. I was supposed to be in awe over the view of the mountains which were visible….just past the equally hideous exteriors of the properties other buildings and flat roofs.

I could go on, but let me end all of our pain with this little summary:

If these apartments were men on a speed-dating session, the apartments I visited would have looked a great deal like this:mullet-man-flexing-muscles1

or maybe this:

520139

Now I’m sure both of these individuals are fine human beings but that doesn’t mean that I want to be associated with them on a daily basis…including living where I might run into them every day.

Ok. So there were a couple of options that weren’t quite that bad, but all in all, as I continue to look for the next place to lay my head for the foreseeable future, I have come to the conclusion that those people who have the tiny house on wheels may not have such a bad idea. Ok, sure, I’d have to clean my own sewage, but honestly, I’m not sure that would be significantly worse than some of the options I’ve found.glass1

Here’s to hoping the next batch of site visits goes better.

 

 

 

 

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A house is just a house

logo_new04-300x300Its a cold and dreary day here today which seems appropriate since I’m feeling a little dreary myself. It’s not that there’s really anything wrong, per se, but I am in a place where I need to make a change in my life that I don’t want to make

I’m going to have to move.

I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I’ve been in the same place ever since I moved back home and my little apartment has become a cocoon; a safety zone for me that I just don’t feel ready to abandon just yet.

As I sat and thought about it last night, looking at the fairly limited options I have available to  me in this incredibly difficult rental market, I suddenly hearkened back to the lyrics of one of my favorite songs, “A House is Not A Home” and began to wonder what exactly does make a home? Is it the furnishings? The location? The song suggests that the house is not a home without that special person there. Does that mean that a house (or apartment) where a single person lives can’t be a home? Does the love I have for my dog mean the same for creating a loving, “homey” space as that between two people?

I would have to vehemently say that a house can be a home regardless of the number of human beings that reside in said building. I have lived alone for nearly 10 years now and absolutely consider my current apartment more than just a set of walls that provide shelter from the elements. My little 800 square feet is a place that I not only feel free to be myself but I where I am comfortable having others in. I have friends there and have broadened my “family” with the people that surround me in the complex. I mean, sure, there are many people with whom I’ve never even nodded hello, but many of the people have become part of my day to day existence and the thought of having to give that up is painful.

Even as I type this, I realize how silly this all sounds. People move all the time and it’s hardly the end of the world. In fact, it can be fun! The start of a whole new adventure! I know this…I truly do, and yet, I am still struggling.

Its not just the process of having to find a new place to live that is more within my budget in a part of town I don’t know surrounded by people I don’t know (although that is, honestly, enough to keep me up at night…and has on many occasions lately). More than that, it’s the need to pick up yet again and start over; to find my way by myself one more time; having to start over yet again to develop a feeling of safety and security in a new place.

Safety and security are not things that I have ever had the luxury of taking for granted. While I certainly recognize that I am blessed, having not been not raised nor ever having lived in a war torn nation threatened by bullets and bombs or having ever lived in the inner city surrounded by gang violence and drugs, I have spent much of my life feeling the need to be perpetually “on guard”, ready and waiting for the next threat to appear.

The thing is, that over the last 4 years, I have been able to stabilize my life; to remove those things that were a threat to me in one way or another and I have been able to just rest in the quiet and calm of safety.

And not I have to shake things up all over again.

I have cried, I have run countless numbers on paper and in my head trying to figure out ways to avoid this new reality, and I keep coming back to the same place.

I have to move.

Of course, God had a bit to say about my moping and whining.

He reminded me that much as I hate the idea of moving, this coming move is like the Spring which has just started. It is full of unknowns and uncertainty, but more than that, it is full of promise. The buds on the trees and flowers, which may well freeze over the next day or two, still took the risk to come out and despite their early appearance, their eagerness will not be in vain. The promises of tomorrow don’t go away just because of a little dreariness or down-trodenness.  They are all there waiting with joy and expectation and sometimes the come in the most unusual packages…

…like a little mud and saliva…or the end of a lease.

The bottom line is this. God can us anything to show us his grace, mercy and love. Sometimes its a big, wonderful rainbow of glorious color that is seen by everyone but sometimes its just a little mud and saliva that is wiped on our eyes to clear away our inability to see the things right in front of us. The mud that God is using for me at this moment is my lease.

Maybe I will find a way to stay where I am, or maybe, just maybe, I will find someplace that is so much more than I could have expected. What I have to do is to stop whining about the why’s and what if’s and choose instead to acknowledge the fact that God loves me and has a plan for me that is greater than my blind little eyes can see in their current state. I have to choose to see that a home is a house with GOD in it and the location of that home doesn’t matter.

Where are you in this Spring season? Are you relishing in the joys of the season or complaining (like me) about the changes that come with it? Regardless of your answer, know that God is with you and waiting for you – like me – to make the choice to see Him in it all.