Apr 9, 2007

Move It!

Three weeks ago, Larry and I thought we were going to rent a small house in Altadena. Then the owner informed us she was going to show it to someone else. Not that we didn’t get it, but that we might not; we’d have to compete for it. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But it was strange, since she gave us the impression before we were the only ones. The owner has never rented out her place before and only recently moved in with her boyfriend/fiancé. She seemed green in the ways of landlording. And it seemed things could get stranger. So, we gracefully bowed out of the race and said we’d keep looking.

And keep looking, we did. We re-upped on Westside Rentals for the third round, scoured Craigs List, and went back to trolling the streets near Larry’s work. That had been our first idea: find a place within walking distance of Larry’s job. Larry works in downtown Glendale. As much as I loved the urban, community life in New York, the urban community in downtown Glendale doesn’t have the same community feel. Especially if you’re not Armenian. So we looked in outer Glendale, Atwater, Pasadena, South Pasadena Altadena.

You know you’re desperate when you reconsider items on your “This I Will Not Do” list. 1980s buildings. Converted motel look. Items that list “subterranean parking” as an asset. Stucco. Burbank.

There was one joint that had been on Westside Rentals for months. The photo showed a minimalist French affair, like they took New Orleans and stripped off the wrought iron and shutters. Imagine our dismay when we drove by only to discover that the picture of faux French was in itself a faux. A decoy. The real place a megaplex 1980s place, painted one muted brown; with stucco, endless wheelchair ramps, and no shrubbery of any kind.

Roaming the rows and rows of apartments and condos, I realized the truth about downtown Glendale. It’s just Palms. And Palms always makes me think of “the Crying of Lot 49.” To live in Downtown Glendale would be like living in a Thomas Pynchon novel.

So we finished crossing off each place on our list, and headed to my friend’s wedding. As we sat a moment in the parking lot, I asked Larry if we could pray. Many of my prayers in the past have been littered with “Come ON, God. What am I, chopped liver? What further humiliation do I have to go through before you throw me a bone?” But I resisted. Instead I said, “okay God I know that you are good, I know that you are good to us. I know you don’t make magic happen a lot, but I know that you are good and generous and fair. And you know we need a place. So we’re at the end of our rope now. If you are going to help us, help us change our perspective, help us in whatever way we need to change, to see what’s out there. Help us keep our sanity and our hope.”

A month previous, I read in a church newsletter that my friend Ted was looking to rent his house in Eagle Rock. He and his wife Lori had moved to Portland, but kept the house here. Ted comes down occasionally for acting work, and they wanted to find someone to rent the house knowing they’d have an absentee roommate who showed up now and then. When I first saw it a month ago, I emailed Ted, but we thought we were getting the Altadena cottage.

The morning after our SOS prayer at the wedding, Ted emailed us. Circumstances had changed for Ted and Lori, and suddenly Ted and Lori’s house was a possibility. So on Wednesday, Larry took his lunch hour and I drove over to Ted and Lori’s.

The house is on a hill. 75 stair steps up from the street. 105 steps if you count the flat “breathing” space. My sister Nancy’s family takes care of my mom all year round. Our idea was to get a place where Mom could stay with Larry and me a few weeks out of the year to give the Ericksons a break. But my mom is old and a bit frail. So every step up to the house put it a step further away from the possibility of us renting it. By the time we reached the door I turned to Larry and said, ‘this won’t work.”

We told Ted and Lori as much. We admired their place – the space, the big kitchen, the deck with the views of the mountains to the north – with that a sad longing of the thing that could never be. We had a nice visit with Ted and Lori, anyway. I’d only met Lori once before, and briefly. As we sat and chatted, I thought, “I wish I’d gotten to know Lori before they moved to Portland. She’s good people.” And further, “these guys are the best occasional roommates one could hope for. DANG.”

I went home to lament to my sister.
She asked, “are the stairs steep?”
No. They’re easy steps.
Is there room to breathe in between steps?
Oh Suze, take it! Mom can do that. It might even be good exercise for her.

So we called Ted and Lori and said we’d take the place.
When are you thinking of moving in? Ted wondered.
April First was that coming Sunday.

Larry and I looked at our schedules. The only weekend we were free for the next three weeks was that coming Saturday.
Two days away.
We were going to move in two days.



Madley said...

Can't wait to hear the rest of your adventure! I lived in Eagle Rock for 15 years (including school) and really enjoyed it...

Stephanie said...

Such good news. I still don't know if "change me" prayers are answered by changed circumstances because we're finally ready to "see" what's right in front of us - or if they're answered that way because a loving Father changes things after we do our own work (trust) instead of changing things for us before we do our work - but whichever way, it sure seems to be true. First trust, then answers.

And WHAT an answer for you this time! Wow! Enjoy! Cook! (But not with celery.) Just spend time with that incredible view! From the Land of the Former and Latter Rains (and hail), here's to you and your new abode. Salut!

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