fingers crossed

You know you’re getting desperate for an apartment when you resort to launching a letter writing campaign to the owners, complete with a photo montage so they know just who will be occupying their home. I’m not saying this is the latest tactic Emily and I used to secure an apartment over the weekend. But just for kicks, say it is …

Now, if you haven’t gone through the process of apartment searching in a city like San Francisco, you may not realize how psychologically trying – not to mention time consuming it is. When Emily and I met in our café Friday evening we were all business. There was no mention of boys. No talk of our life outside of apartment hunting. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure we hugged before sitting down.

We spent an hour scanning ads, using various pitched ” hmms “ and “ehhs” to emphasize our approval or disinterest over a particular post. Practically the only actual words we uttered in 90 minutes were to real estate agents to discuss listings and schedule meeting times. Within an hour we lined up seven showings across five neighborhoods in the city – three at 11am alone.

Afterwards we tried enjoying the rest of our beers when we were approached by two guys – also roommates – who told us their tale of how they snagged their apartment last year. In sum: They lied. They didn’t have jobs at the time so they forged pay stubs and wore suits pretending to come from work when they met the landlord. I think they thought they were impressing us. I believe they may have watched Swingers one too many times in college. Tip: Boys, I’ve seen it. And Vince Vaughn is hotter than you.

Anyhow, they told us of an unadvertised opening in their building and handed over their landlord’s home number. I plugged it into my phone and waited until they left before hitting delete. Yeah. We might want to date you let alone live next to you … especially after you just told us you are liars. It reminds me of the time in college when a male teammate began apologizing to a girl friend of mine for an incident that happened at a party the night before. “Right,” she said laughing. “You think I’m going to accept your apology when you’re wearing a T-shirt that says, ‘I lie to girls’ on the front.”

Emily and I began Saturday morning driving across the city to Portrero Hill where we were promptly stood up by the agent. At least we met some other nice folks sitting on the stoop – all married couples. It’s funny to think that Emily and I have been coupled in a sense for the past 15 years. By ten after we were back in the ‘Ru and zipping across town – three miles back to Russian Hill.

After months of searching, we have developed a divide and conquer strategy where I circle for parking and Em cases the potential apartment to see if it’s even worth me risking a ticket and getting out of the car. After deciding this one wasn’t, we were cruising two miles across town to Pacific Heights to scope out another apartment where we were once again stood up. At this point we have learned not to get emotionally involved with the search. It’s kind of like dating.

In the past, while circling for a parking space you start trying on the neighborhood for size. You picture yourself ducking into a nearby café for morning coffee, popping into the nearby pub on a Monday evening. You already know where you can buy milk. By the time you reach for the doorbell you have practically called the movers. Then you wait. And wait. And then you get angry for being so foolish. Suddenly this neighborhood doesn’t look so good anymore. The street is too narrow. The houses are run down.You didn’t want to live here anyway!

It’s emotionally exhausting the highs and lows and how fast the fall is in between. Not anymore. Now Emily and I experts at handling disappointment (at least in the realm of apartment searching). It’s not the right apartment for us – get back in the car and move on.

By noon we were back in Russian Hill looking at an apartment with hardwood floors so worn we thought the property managers were in the midst of sanding them – they weren’t. But they could refinish them for an additional $100 a month … With that, we shook the agent’s hand and were back in the car destined for Pac Heights. That’s when we saw it – an apartment as quirky as us – located in a restored mansion next door to a park.

It’s old. It has character and flaws and we adore it. It feels like a home. There is a tiny garden off the back porch and one bedroom is so small it can only harbor a bed and nightstand. It’s complete with a floor to ceiling wall of bookshelves and two walk in closets – perfect for me! And another bedroom with enough closet space to house Em’s ever expanding shoe collection. I knew we had to have it when I was searching for a parking space and Emily texted me this one word: Love. Fingers crossed the owners feel the same way about us…

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