This past weekend I decided to stop talking about moving and actually get off my ass and look for a place to move into. Truth is, I rather like having this whole moving project as a hobby/day dream. So much so that making the dream a reality is a little scary. What if I choose wrong? What if I make a ton of compromises on the sort of space I am willing to live in, only to see something way better a month after I get settled? What if I hate my new neighborhood? With so many potentially negative repercussions, the impetus to dream about moving is understandably stronger than the one to actually do it.
Of course, the thing about dragging one's feet is that once you realize you're doing it, you feel practically shamed into putting a stop to it. And of course, there's the fact that I am really hating the ice cream and pie crust stealing cliquishness of my roommates. It seems like every weekend I step into a planned social activity that I wasn't invited to participate in, which really isn't a fun experience. There is also the fact that I have too many books for my bookcases, and not enough room to buy more bookcases. I clearly need more space. And the fact that there's no central air in our whole house and my room is on the third floor so when it's really hot outside my room is 100 degrees when I come home at night. This by the way, is a nice contrast to winters when it's 30 degrees outside the house and inside my room.
My plan for the day was to play "urban pioneer" and check out various neighborhoods that might be desirable ones to move to.
Here's a brief run-down.
11:30--Leave house to hit open house for a 1 bedroom apartment in the Convention Center neighborhood. Rent for said unit is 900-something, I can't remember exactly. Under 1,000 for sure. I am expecting the worst but feel compelled to go anyway.
11:35--Note that shoes feel like they're starting to rub against my feet in a bad way. Debate returning home to change, instead opt to buy Band-Aids at the CVS. This will prove to be a pivotal moment. One where a very bad choice was made.
12:15--Arrive in Convention Center area after sitting on metro for god knows how long due to track work. Realize it's going to be a long day.
12:16--Walk down 9th street and note presence of brew pub. Recall recent conversation with mom (armchair urban studies expert) who told me that brew pubs are a solid indicator or urban revitalization.
12:17--Walk a block past brew pub and note presence of many boarded up buildings and one gas station.
12:20--Arrive at property. See no signs of an open house or of an available apartment. Chat with young woman on sidewalk who informs me that I missed the open house by 15 minutes.
Okay, now this really pissed me off. The person in charge of renting the place had told me that she'd start to show it at 11:30. Naive me takes this to mean that she had plans to stick around for a while. Occasions like this are why I normally make a point in life to be on time for everything. They also point to evidence of why I can't get it 100% together as a person since the only time I ever seem to be late for anything is the only time that punctuality actually seems to matter.
12:21--Resolve to explore neighborhood.
12:22--Revise decision to explore neighborhood. Several blisters have formed on my feet and the 10 Band-Aids I have applied keep on rubbing off. Why can't the pharmaceutical industry invent a Band-Aid that doesn't rub off your feet when you're breaking in shoes? How hard is that?
12:23--Venture on to Petworth.
I should note that from here I stopped paying attention to the time. Suffice to say that it took way longer than it should to metro up to Petworth.
I explored the neighborhood for a few blocks, noted some apartment for rent signs, called to inquire and was greeted by answering machines at all. Decided to explore some more, despite fact that stroll through Petworth and morphed into hobble through Petworth on account of retched blisters caused by really uncomfortable shoes.
What I saw in Petworth: The cash register area at the store where I stopped to buy a Diet Pepsi was surrounded by plexiglass. Never a good sign.
Then a man followed me on his bike, muttering at me under his breath for a block or two. I Recalled that this has happened before and is part of the reason why I never visit that area. I also wondered if all those people who talk up the safety of Petworth have never been semi-stalked in that area or if they have and simply consider the experience to be a friendly neighborly sort of one. Suffice to say, it did not warm me to the neighborhood and I then remembered why people are often willing to pay big bucks to live in other non-transitional areas of the city. It only sort of reminded me of that scene in Clueless where Cher is stuck in Sun Valley after being abandoned by her ride home and she has to call Paul Rudd to get a lift. Sadly, I couldn't call Paul Rudd, as his number isn't in my phone so instead had to book it over the metro. Stay classy, Petworth.
After that, I decided it was time to truly get in touch with my inner-bougie princess so I hightailed it to Chevy Chase and spent way too much money at Bloomingdales. Cher would have been proud.
So that was that.
Then on Tuesday, I visited a 1 bedroom apartment in Columbia Heights. It was quite a steal at $1000 a month. Whenever I find a listing that is reasonably priced, I am always forced to obsess over what could be wrong with it. In this case, it was barely larger than a breadbox (the guy showing it said 600 square feet, which might have been accurate if he meant 600 square feet minus 200 square feet). It was seriously small. It also had hardly any closet space, no dishwasher, no disposal, no elevator (3rd floor), and it looked directly into the windows of another apartment building. Now, as spoiled as I am, I can live without an elevator and a dishwasher. I can probably also live without a disposal. But 6 square feet of closet space is by no means acceptable, nor is having to watch the neighbors in their underwear every time I also happen to want sunlight. I suppose if I were both nudist and an exhibitionist, I could have been happy with the place. I mulled over all the ways in which I was being unreasonable and unrealistic and then decided to keep looking.
Tomorrow I go look at a 1 bedroom in Woodley Park only slightly out of my desired price range. I'll let you know why it's so cheap. I'm thinking that it might be made of paper mache.
What I learned: I do not think I am comfortable with neighborhoods that are in such an early stage of gentrification. I know this makes me something of a wimp, but I'd rather be a wimp who isn't stalked by guys on bikes than a victim of verbal abuse (or worse) in a cheap neighborhood.