I still remember the moment we pulled up in front of this house.
We had a lease in an expensive neighborhood that was about to run out, and if we renewed, the landlord would raise the rent. Again. We were desperate to move to our current neighborhood, where we’d have more space, lower rent, and be super close to a kick ass preschool that some of our friends’ kids went to.
Everything we’d looked at or found on Craigslist was too small, too pricy, totally dilapidated, in the wrong neighborhood, or, in one instance, above a liquor store. I remembered seeing a picture of this particular one on Craigslist, but it had blended in with the hundreds of other pictures I viewed of total duds, and those we couldn’t afford.
When we pulled up to it, it was like we were breathing fresh air again for the first time in a long time. And then we met the super sweet, very inviting landlord. And then we went inside, and really fell in love.
I always knew in the back of my mind that we were only renting and would have to leave someday, but that didn’t stop me, or all of us, from letting it start to really feel like home. Our home.
This year we made some big plans to buy our own house. Which is no small feat in San Francisco. So, we made some big budget plans too, and a savings plan that will hopefully take only a year, and then we’d be ready to move onward and upward. One more year here, we thought, and off we go.
So, when the landlord told us they wouldn’t be renewing our lease this year, that instead they themselves would be moving back in, it knocked us on our butts and we didn’t even know what hit us.
We were faced with grim prospects when it came to new places. We had lived in our old house for 4 years, and in that time they raised our rent by $100. In the meantime, rent for similar places had gone up $1500. Which we could probably afford, but then all that saving up for our own place that we were going to do would have gone out the window. So, we had to try to stay close to the same price, but find something livable.
The first apartment I looked at made me want to cry. It was tiny, dark, dingy, falling apart, had ancient appliances and had a fire escape out the window of what would have been the boys’ room. And for that kind of rent, I could never see myself raising my family there. I looked at a few more in that range.
We completely lucked out, really, finding the house that we did. It’s a similar style house, it is actually a house and not an apartment, we can use the garage and backyard, it has laundry, it has nice-sized bedrooms, it was a really good fit for us. And best of all, rent was about $100 less.
We made a huge effort to impress the landlord. Luckily we have good credit scores, and a good relationship with our past landlords, and the new landlord really seemed to like us, and the place was ours.
After we moved most of our stuff in, we had some odds and ends at the old place and a ton of cleaning to do. As I chipped away at it, and the old place got emptier and emptier, it really clicked that we were leaving that house behind. And I realized how sad that made me.
Typically I don’t get too attached to houses. We moved around a LOT when I was a kid, and when I was in college I moved every year. Moving was just what you did at the beginning of every summer. When we moved to California, we had an apartment for two years in the Silicon Valley. Then we moved to the city, and lived in that flat for three years. It was hard to leave that one, because that’s where we had Bowie, where we became a family. But, leaving there was our choice. We had reasons. We wanted a different house.
Leaving this one was not our choice. We loved living there. We had even joked about asking them if they’d sell it to us, once we were ready to buy.
Like I said, we knew it wasn’t our house. That someday we’d have to leave, for one reason or another. But that didn’t mean we wouldn’t be surprised when we were asked to leave, and supremely bummed out to have to go.
So, out of sadness, anger, frustration and just plain old disappointment, I’ve started noticing all the things I’m not fond of in the new house. The house that seemed like it had fallen from the sky directly into our laps, a gift from some higher power at just the moment we needed it.
A list of things I don’t like about our new house:
1. It’s not our old house.
2. It’s further from Bowie’s school. So mornings mean a long walk to school, or driving him there.
3. To do the laundry or go into the back yard, we have to go outside to the street level and in through the front of the garage. Mildly annoying.
4. Also annoying about the cars driving by: we are right on the corner, and unlike most of the other intersections in our neighborhood, it is not a 4-way stop, but only a 2-way stop with oncoming traffic that does not stop. So, at least once a day, often more, I hear someone skidding to a stop and honking their horn incessantly because another driver wasn’t paying attention.
5. There’s no dishwasher.
6. There’s no garbage disposal.
7. There’s a street light right outside our bedroom window.
But, it’s absurd, really. We went from functioning house to functioning house, roof over our heads to roof over our heads. Being picky about the house is certainly a First World Problem. And I really need to remember that.
Besides, there’s a good number of things I do like:
1. We’re 3 blocks from the ocean.
2. The next door neighbors are a really sweet older couple that have already stopped by to introduce themselves, given the boys a small gift, repaired a little hole in the sidewalk near our driveway, given us protips about the street parking here and pulled our garbage bins back to our house on garbage day.
3. I have a lot more space for gardening than I had before. So much more! Barring gopher issues, I should really have a lot of success back there. The yard also comes complete with a peach tree and two pear trees! Gotta love that.
4. The kitchen is bigger and more open. I can see and hear what the boys are doing either from the living room or from their bedroom while I cook and clean.
5. The whole house is brighter. There are so many more windows in a corner house, and the way the house faces, we have sun almost all day.
6. The house is SO MUCH LESS DRAFTY. That was one of the things I highly disliked about the old place. You could feel the wind blow through the glass in the living room. So, nice, new, non-drafty windows are a plus.
7. We have much better cell phone reception than we had before. I used to have to go outside to make a phone call, or at the very least go all the way to the back of the house and stand next to a window. But here, I can make calls all around the house! In the living room! In the KITCHEN!
We are likely only going to be here for one year. Bowie’s first grade year. Ferris’ first year of preschool. It should zip right by. And maybe after my feelings of loss start to ease up I can let myself settle in and really enjoy it here. We’re still in the city that we love, and we’re still in the neighborhood that we love, and we still have a place to call home. I’m grateful for all of that.