There is nothing quite like apartment searching. Yes, it’s stressful. Yes, it’s time consuming and emotionally draining looking for what boils down to an 800-square foot space of sheet rock and hardwood. But, in my opinion, where you choose to rest your head at night is one of the most important decisions you can make in your life. Well, that and the person you choose to share it with. And both take careful deliberation, perfect timing, and a stroke of good fortune to find the right fit.
In my experience, apartment searching is exactly like dating – only slightly better – for two reasons: Dates typically don’t ask for a credit report and references (hmmm…maybe they should?) and if you break your lease you simply pay a fine and move on. Or if you’re lucky, you just find someone else to fill the void. Dating is not quite as simple. However, the process is essentially the same.
From the moment you walk in the door you look around and wonder: Is this space right for me? Do I want to walk around in it for awhile? Unpack? Fill the closets, stack the cabinets and decant the wine? Everything looks perfect now. But how will it look like in the morning with different light? Can I live with that tiny bathroom? Is that garden down below really charming or just one giant headache blooming underneath? How much of myself am I really willing to give to make this something I want to call home? Will I be happy here?
These are the questions I ask myself when shopping for a new apartment. And Emily and I have been doing a lot of that lately.
We even came close to making an offer on a place yesterday. We were that close. It had everything we were looking for – lots of light, equal-sized bedrooms, shiny hardwood floors and new crown molding, a dishwasher and huge closets. What was the problem? Adjoining bedrooms and a very odd bathroom. It was minuscule in fact. Em joked that we would never have to leave the bathtub to put on our makeup. But the truth is she wasn’t really kidding.
Signing a lease is too important of a decision to rush. Your living space affects all other areas of your life beginning with the second you open your eyes in the morning. You are flooded with sensory details. What do you see? What do you hear? For me, it’s the birds of paradise flying directly overhead. (Not as romantic as it sounds, trust me), the seals barking from Pier 39, the Powell Street cable cars rattling their way up the steep hills, and the fog horns calling out to one another across the Bay. I love these sounds.
But if you don’t find joy in the quirks that make your home your home, you’ve only been up for two minutes and already you aren’t off to a good start. Then you take that to work with you. You take it with the you on the bus. To meetings. To dinner with your friends and to bed at night.
After viewing the apartment we split up and both came to the same decision: it was a good home, but a good home for someone else. We weren’t willing to bank our happiness on the idea that it was the best we were going to get. So the search continues…our apartment is out there, we just haven’t found it yet.
Besides, I kind of love the feeling of walking into a totally empty apartment. The hardwood floors sparkle, and for a moment, they remain free of the daily debris that will eventually blanket their surface. The walls are bare, the cabinets empty, save for the liner left behind by the previous tenant or a single grain of rice pushed to the corner. For a moment you have a blank slate. For a moment you can imagine the possibilities of what is to come. For a moment you can consider if you are home.