The minute I walk through the door, I know this isn’t our future home. And so does the aged landlord’s grandson who — resigned to his teenage fate of shuttling Gramps around — sits on the stairway, just beyond the front door.
“So, you got other places you’re lookin’?”
His eyes belie a subversive hopefulness.
“Yep. A slew. But this is really nice.”
A knowing, wry smile cracks along his jawline as he scratches the back of his neck. But his grandfather doesn’t want compliments. Just absolutes.
“You both — you and your friend — have job, yes?”
“Yes, we both have jobs.”
He stares hard, as if trying to elicit a confession. But I stare back, unblinking.
By now, we’ve recited our lie so often it’s become irrefutable truth.
Through machinations and occasional subterfuge, we’ve wrapped our larval plan in a cocoon — spun by equal parts frustration and desperation — and transformed it into a winged bastard. And we fly on its tattered wings — right into the gaping, beastly maw of the unknown.
“I see there’s no electrical outlet plate around that plug.”
I point toward the kitchen counter. His concentration breaks, and five excuses tumble out of his mouth. I don’t really care. I just want to leave, and need something to occupy his attention.
“But you’ve seen this place, right?”
Friends — a pack concerned and intrigued — ask repeatedly.
“Well, of course.”
It’s not exactly a lie. I mean, we’ve seen the place online. And plenty of beautiful places in person. But most of the beautiful, spacious places will suck our savings dry in months.
Still, we solider on.
Eventually, we’re able to twist our lie enough to convince a property management company to lease us a studio. With an LA address in hand, we prep for the next step: the cross-country move.
But then, less than 24 hours later, we get the good news. The bright light at the end of the increasingly long tunnel is suddenly blinding us rather than teasing us from afar.
Now, with our six month lease nearing its end, we’re channeling optimism while scoping out new digs — with a new budget, and a new outlook. Because this new place will be much more than a landing spot: it’ll be a launching pad.
So we want it to be right — to have the things that will make us want to call it home, the bones to massage and mold into aesthetic, functional bliss.
That’s where a list comes in handy. A list of things that each of us has compromised on in the past, and later kicked ourselves for.
Everyone has their own wants and needs, but here’re a few that we’re longing for — hoping to find on the other side of the soon-to-be-opening doors of our future.
(1) Pet friendly. As if we weren’t going to adopt a pet soon enough, I had to go and get a job at an animal welfare non-profit. (Shucks. Hello, three-legged corgi-pug cuteness.)
(2) Light. Six months is a long time to come back to an apartment facing a plain concrete building. *Sad trombone.*
(3) Parking. It’s LA. And we’ve been having to park in the same parking deck with vehicular fossils from the LA riots. And deal with opportunistic, asshat restaurant valets parking us in. Enough said.
(4) Charm. Living in an apartment that’s basically a square, white, sterile box is what I imagine hell to be like. If I believed in hell. And while our little studio is cute and funky, it’s the little part that gets us.
(5) Space. Sure, we culled a lot. But we still have pretty things. Many, many pretty things.
(6) Location. While West Hollywood wasn’t at the top of our list initially, hearing about its enforced rent control moved it from bottom to top. Talk about a versatile list.
(7) Green space. This one will probably be relegated to the “sacrifice” list. But the inner gardener in me can hope.
(8) Kitchen. I’d really like to avoid having to perform Matrix-esque moves to get the Brita out of the refrigerator.
From previous hits and misses, we know all too well the importance of holding out for what feels right. But we’re also well aware of the fact that our wants will have to acquiesce to needs, and those to reality.
Still, two gays can hope.
Regardless, the most important thing for us to remember is that, whatever mix of wants/needs we get, we’ll make them work — transforming them into something fun and useful.
Something to build upon.