house hunt.

One Saturday afternoon I woke up and looked around our apartment.  It was, as I’ve described before, a two-floor apartment.  Upstairs was the master bedroom (which was a decent-sized room that had a large closet for Sandy’s clothes, and a big “nook” in one wall where we kept all the Dromedary inventory – boxes and boxes of records, tapes and CDs from Dromedary and the other labels we distributed via mail.  The second bedroom was purely an office – lined with shelves of CDs, our stereo and our desk, computer, and various office equipment, plus the closet where I kept my clothes.  The master bathroom was also upstairs.

Downstairs was the kitchen, a small room with a small amount of counter space and enough area for a small table for us to eat, and a fairly spacious living room.  There was a small coat closet under the stairs.  Off the living room, an exit door led to a fenced-in courtyard that we shared with our next-door neighbor, a young woman who worked as a bartender in a strip club (she insisted to Sandy that she never took her clothes off, but I took great pleasure in watching her embarrassment when I caught her running from her apartment to her car, hoping not to get caught wearing the ridiculous getup she had to wear.  I also took tremendous disappointment in the knowledge that she made more money working two days a week than I did working my ass off).

This particular Saturday morning pissed me off because we had a leak in our washing machine overnight.  We had purchased a half-sized, portable washer that connected to the spigot in the kitchen sink.  At night before bed, we would roll it up to the sink, connect it, load it up, and let it run overnight.  No more laundromat.

We didn’t actually have a “leak.”  I hooked the washer up wrong, and when it drained, the dirty water leaked out of the hose, all over the kitchen floor.  Unfortunately our kitchen floor was not your typical tile floor – they were actually “carpet tiles,” 12-inch square tiles that stuck to the floor but were carpet-like on top.  So it wasn’t like I could mop up the mess – the water soaked into the carpet tiles.

I had a way of doing that.  I’d try and help around the house but somehow fuck it up to the point where it was worse than it was when I started.  In Lodi, we decided to install closet organizers in our two closets.  Sandy did the one in our bedroom; it came out beautiful.  I did the one in the living room; I put giant holes in the walls, ripped out a big chunk of wall, and wound up with a teetering hulk of wire shelving.  Eventually, the shelves collapsed, spilling a can of white paint on the closet floor.

It had gotten to the point where I couldn’t really do anything around the house that required any degree of precision.  Sandy installed the shelves in the Dromedary office, Sandy repaired plumbing and carpentry, Sandy did cleaning and laundry, basically anything around the house that could be done in degrees was done by Sandy.  If there was a degree to which a job could be done, Sandy typically did it better than I did.  Simple stuff, like lifting heavy things up into the attic, folding laundry, going grocery shoping, walking the dog – I could do those things.  More complex stuff, like cooking a complicated dinner, installing a closet organizer, repairing a toilet, or, umm, hooking up the washing machine, had to be handled by someone with more skill.

With Sandy pregnant I was trying to take on more work around the house.  Sandy was really tired, and I envisioned myself like Fred Flintstone, making sure Wilma didn’t over-exert herself while she was pregnant with little Pebbles.  Anything that required any sort of exertion, I didn’t want Sandy to do.  It irritated Sandy, because she likes to be in control of the things in her life, and she has ways of doing things that are decidedly different than mine, and I was – literally – getting in her kitchen, messing with her program.

This dirty water soaked down underneath the carpet tiles and started to loosen the glue that affixed the tiles to the floor underneath.  We got fans to dry off the tiles, but it seemed to take forever, as the water had soaked through the carpet tiles – whenever you walked in the kitchen, your feet would squish into the tiles.  The glue came loose, and some of the tiles started coming up – you’d be walking through the kitchen and suddenly one of the tiles would slip right under your feet and pull right off the floor.

What’s worse was that this was dirty water that had soaked into the carpet, so within a few hours, the kitchen began to smell like dirt.  The smell got stronger and stronger during the day, and all the air freshener and Lysol on earth wouldn’t make it better.  So we rented a carpet shampooer from the grocery store and cleaned the carpet – which just made the whole floor wet again.

Suddenly, I was feeling that our beautiful new apartment with all these dynamite amenities was clunky and small.

In February, just for the hell of it, Sandy and I attended a seminar for first-time homebuyers, hosted by a regional real estate company.  The overall point of the seminar was for the realtor to get new potential clients when they were thinking about buying their first home – a pretty shrewd marketing tactic.  However, the seminar was actually very educational, and we learned that we actually could afford to be homeowners – all we were really missing was the cash for a down payment.  We even worked with the realtor to determine a realistic budget, if we decided that we wanted to start house-hunting.

We decided we wanted to start house-hunting.

We contacted the realtor, Angie, and told her that we were interested in beginning the search, focusing on Boonton and nearby towns (that we could afford), like Denville and Parsippany.  Angie began the process of finding local houses for sale, and taking Sandy and me to some of the houses, listening to our feedback, trying to determine what sort of house we liked.

We were pretty noncommittal, though.  We really didn’t have much of an idea of what we liked, and so we were sending Angie on a wild goose chase – showing us colonials, Capes, tudors, and split-levels.  We were hoping for three bedrooms: one for us, one for the baby, and one for Dromedary.  Aside from that, we didn’t have any requirements.

We looked a tiny, tiny house in Parsippany that was cute as hell – looked like a dollhouse, in cuteness and in size.  When we explained that the house was beautiful but way too small, Angie took us to a larger house in Denville that had no garage.  When I explained that I’d like a garage, she brought us to a house that had a garage, but no driveway.

“This house has no driveway,” I said.  “Why is it that every house we look at is missing something – a driveway, a garage, size…”

“On your budget,” Angie said, exasperated, “You’ve got to make some concessions.”

~ by Al on August 9, 2009.

One Response to “house hunt.”

  1. Can Sandy come over and put up some shelving?

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