The Great 2009 Apartment-Hunt
In college, friend of TQP Matt Burns and I once gave brief consideration to the idea of living in a place that looked more like the definition of a “flophouse” than anything I’d seen in a movie or episode of “The Wire.” Rooms separated by sheets on clotheslines, a communal bathroom down the hall, the barest hint of outside light given off by smudged windows…
(All this, across the street from a Turkey Hill! Who knew part of rural-ish Kutztown could be considered “seedy”?)
Eventually, Burns and I settled on a place that was…well, it was lopsided. Everything was on a slant. And the balcony had a sign on it insisting that no more than two people stand on it at a time. Remember, it’s about asking yourself, “Can I live here?”
Since college, I’ve been lucky enough to live with friends who are actually in a position to buy houses. Thing of it is…my girlfriend just got a job in the area. And so we kinda gotta move in together, since Tad did not sign up for three roommates (neither did the dog – though he’s pretty much in it for new and interesting smells anyway – but he doesn’t get to vote, not just because he’s a dog, but because he’s not all that bright).
So armed with Craigslist, a basic idea of what my girlfriend and I can spend, and an interest in recently-revitalized Phoenixville, I did a little looking around last weekend.
And I knew I’d crossed that boundary when I went from looking at a pleasant rowhouse with a well-kept front lawn, to the windowless side door of a Laundromat, crowded by middle-aged women, taking a smoke-break from their laundry-duties.
“Don’t judge,” I told myself. Though I sudden noticed how the sky had quickly turned gray, how there was no more grass to be seen, and how a young(ish) guy in a novelty T-shirt holding a camera may stick out a little. “They’re just people in need of a place to live, same as you.”
Then I turned down an alley, looking for another apartment and learning that apparently the block simply skips digits at random. A guy was walking towards me, making no effort to move around me. Being that I don’t so much like being approached by strangers, I clenched up. Then he asked, “You got a cigarette?”
Okay, no problem! No, I didn’t. I kept on my path, then looked back and saw the guy pull a cigarette out of his coat.
And suddenly the dodgy quotient upped a bit more.
As I walked down the street to find the last place on my list, two men walked up the street towards me. “Ah, more people. Okay, not a problem. Chances are, if I move to this area, there are going to be other people – not ideal, but I should probably get used to that.”
“Aww, man!” it dawned on me, “I can only afford the dodgy part of Phoenixville! Son of a bitch!”
No, that’s not quite true. It’s possible if Megan’s good with her money (and she is, better than me, really – which means I could have a problem here), we could live in the nice rowhome. OR, we could live in the converted elementary school that has traffic cones warning people off the fire escape. OR, we could live at the place I drive past every day that was CLEARLY being rented out as a storefront office building up until two weeks ago, when they put shingles up over the big windows.
On the upside, it would be nice to give directions to my place that were as simple as, “Yeah, it’s the one with the twisty handicapped access ramp.” It’s easy to spot, at least.
The search continues apace.
- As an aside, my friend Pam thought it would be a good idea if Craigslist would mention if a building was haunted. They could do it like this:
CATS are OK: Purr
DOGS are OK: Wooof
GHOSTS are Likely: WoooOOOoooh!!!!
Get on it, Craigslist. For honesty’s sake!