Friday, April 11, 2008

The Great Apartment Hunt Pt. 10: Reconsiderations

So that settled that, or so we thought. Over the next two days I talked to Karen about three or four times. First she asked me if we wanted to live in the brownstone with the older folks. Since we were concentrating on the second place I said no thanks. And then, poof, the brownstone was rented.

But there was a problem, you see, in that Karen couldn’t reach the landlord for the second place. “He must be away someplace without access to a phone,” she said. “This is really unusual.”

The first place remained available, and Karen was able to get the father and son team to agree to $1450 a month, but, perhaps out of stubbornness, perhaps because we really liked the other place more, we kept on passing on it.

“They really liked you guys,” Karen pleaded over the phone, “and Richard said that at $1450 they’re already giving you guys an unbelievable bargain. Won’t you even consider it?”

I guess we were being stubborn because, despite its many good features, we just didn’t want to live there. And it wasn’t only because the talking elevators might remind me of The Shining, except happier. One reason we wanted pass on it, and a major reason at that, was because it was really far from everything and everyone we knew. Even though Bay Ridge itself is far from everything anyway, this was the farthest region of Bay Ridge. And we were beginning to see this distance as more of a disadvantage than we first imagined. Because we weren’t just moving to save money; we were moving because we were trying to make a better quality of life for our child to come.

If we moved into the “modern marvel,” we realized, we’d be incredibly far from my family, who mostly lived in New Jersey, and also all our friends, who mostly lived in Park Slope. Randi also has a network of teachers and friends—seriously, she knew like 12—who all got knocked up this year, as well. Now she would be inconveniently far from them. This would make her plans for baby-sitting groups all but impossible.

In addition, we were still dead set on having the baby in Park Slope, because Randi had grown close with her midwives, and the only place they’d deliver is in the Methodist hospital in that neighborhood. The further we moved from the hospital, the more likely the chances that the kid would have the middle-name of Honda Accord, because that’s where they might get born.

Basically, if we moved so far away our entire support group would be gone, except for the occasional visitors. We’d have a nice apartment, and a sauna, but we’d give up many of the day-to-day relationships that made our lives in Brooklyn something we enjoyed. Perhaps we should have realized this earlier, but sometimes it’s hard to think of every angle, until you’re confronted with your next move.

The only problem was that it was starting to look like the place we really wanted was probably going to fall through. Karen sounded absolutely befuddled when we’d speak on the phone, nothing like this had ever happened to her before. Landlords don’t simply tell brokers to rent places, and then vanish. But this seemed to be exactly what happened.

“I’m calling, and I’m calling,” she told me one day, “and leaving voice messages, but he’s never calling back.”

It’s possible that this mystery landlord realized that maybe he could get more rent for the same place. It’s possible that maybe he was just kind of crazy, or maybe even dead. Who knows? All I knew was that our best prospect in weeks was pretty much going up in smoke, and there was nothing we could do about it. We’d had three good looking apartments in our grasp just a few days ago, but now, quite suddenly we had none. It was now early March, and this wasn’t the news we wanted to hear.

“I am getting sick and tired of this,” Randi said. “Why can’t people just do what they say they’re going to do?” She’s from Kentucky and has a belief that people should keep to their word. Crazy, right? Because of this belief New York, especially the New York real estate market, frustrates her to no end.

Plus she was starting to get overwhelmed by the fear that we won’t have a place set up and ready for the baby by the time it’s ready to emerge. The nesting urge was already manifest within her, and she had nowhere to vent it, which also frustrated her greatly. She had visions of what she wanted, of places to put changing tables, and how to re-arrange furniture. Or get rid of furniture in our case. (Our bedroom set came from my room from when I was a teenager, and had a slightly boyish, nautical theme. She hated it.)

“I just want to have a place, and know that it’s ours,” she said, sensibly. “And I can’t do this anymore, this looking around at night. I’m pregnant, and other pregnant women at least know where they are going to live. We don’t.”

I really couldn’t argue with that, nor did I want to. Since Karen’s places all seemed to go wrong, and it was getting later, we made a deal: if we don’t find a place that we love, not just like, in the next two weeks we’ll make it work in our present apartment.

Also, after seeing so many places our present apartment was starting to look better and better. It was centrally located, so Randi could be surrounded by more friendly faces, and also so she can tutor after the baby is born, a big help for our bottom line. Also, and this is huge, it had laundry in the building. Many of the places we’d seen simply did not.

In addition, our landlords were not psychopaths, always a danger in New York, and it was a light, airy place to live. I couldn’t complain about the state of the elevator, because we didn’t have one, and there was no lobby, so that wasn’t a problem either. Maybe we could make this work, if we had to, but I wanted us to keep hunting for the brass ring. We live in New York, if it’s anywhere, it’s here.

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