Friday, July 31, 2015

I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You: An Ode to My New Apartment

L to R: Celebrating saying yes to my new place; getting the keys; waiting for the utilities guy

I had a dream about the apartment the night I emailed Craigslist poster who'd shared the listing online. In my dream, the landlord sent me back a harsh, one-line message informing me that the apartment had gone to someone who she deemed a better prospective tenant. The listing was online for less than 24 hours before being snatched up by someone who was faster on the hunt than me.

It was one of those "Did that really happen or did I dream it?" scenarios, so realistic that I woke up feeling like I'd just read a rejection email dashing my Cleveland apartment dreams. That next day, I compulsively checked my email, certain my dream was actually a premonition.

I don't know why I felt so immediately attached to that apartment. I'd only seen four photos of it, & they weren't even particularly descriptive ones. But I saw the bay windows, & I saw the wood floors, & I saw the affordable rent in a difficult-to-afford Cleveland neighborhood, & I just had a feeling, you know? I had a feeling that apartment was going to be my home, & I desperately wanted it to be.

Earlier that day, I had come home from a Fourth of July weekend in Cincinnati feeling like I was going to explode if I didn't start looking for apartments immediately. After spending some time in a city again, I remembered that I just really love cities & desperately wanted to live in one again. I also realized that I'd become uncomfortable with my standard response to people who asked what I was up to since moving home. "I'm planning to move to Cleveland," I'd tell them, but it was just an intangible dream. I was doing no actual planning because I was scared.

But then my desire to get the proverbial ball rolling bubbled up & spilled over, & I had to do something. That same night, I took to Craigslist & PadMapper, to Apartment.com & Rent.com, emailing anyone whose listing seemed like it fit my criteria, which included:
  • Apartment, not a house
  • Preferably in a managed building
  • No roommates
  • In a desirable neighborhood
  • Preferably with an actual Cleveland address
  • Allows cats
I sent out a dozen email inquiries that night, figuring I'd look at a few apartments to start feeling comfortable with the process but that I wouldn't actually move for awhile. Still, the apartment with the bay windows in Tremont stood out. I wasn't quite ready to move yet, but I felt like it was supposed to be mine.

That night came the dream, & the next day came all the repeated refreshing of my email inbox. Halfway through the day, a response arrived. My palms sweating & my heart beating loudly, I felt certain that when I opened it, it would tell me the place had already been claimed.

Taking a deep breath & bracing myself for disappointment, I clicked "open" to read a message from Anna, the landlord of the apartment with the bay windows. It began,
Hi Kate. This might get a little windy, but bear with me, please. I pre-screen potential tenants by whether or not, and how, they reply to my questions. I've also spent the last 45 minutes or so getting sucked into your blog. I love how you write! Fabulous combination of proper language skills, American lingo, and honest, thoughtful stories. As a landlord, clear, honest and open communication is critical, and I hope you'll become my tenant!
I was floored. I was ecstatic. I was so proud of this little blog for being a good enough representation of my personality that it convinced the landlord of a charming Cleveland apartment that I was a worthy renter.

I drove up to Cleveland that night, where I was overjoyed to discover that the apartment has not just one but two huge bay windows, plus two cute coffee shops within easy walking distance. The kitchen is huge, the wood floors are lovely, & the apartment has four rooms, which is more space than I've ever really dreamed of having while living alone. And to top it off, the landlord reminds me of a hybrid of my mother & an older version of myself.

Basically, it was a no-brainer. I said yes to it on the spot, & I got the keys last Friday. I moved some stuff in last weekend but stayed with my mom this week, & we'll move all my furniture in tomorrow afternoon.

And then? Then I'll be a real Clevelander, this thing I've dreamed of for the better part of a decade now.

Tomorrow, I'm going home.
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