And here’s the end of the story, which you probably guessed. The thing about apartment hunting is that it's all failure, because if you succeed you stop doing it. All the places are losers until you find the winner.
We finally found a winner. We met the landlord, toured the place, and signed the lease in the space of a couple of days. We were ready to accept any hovel, no matter how ugly or sketchy, just so I could escape the cats. But when we did find a place it turned out to be more than we could have hoped for. It was actually nicer than any of the other places we looked at.
“This place feels like it's too good for us,” my wife says.
I nod. My oldest daughter said the same thing earlier, and I've been thinking it to myself all day.
We had a list of stuff we needed. (Three bedrooms, no pets, good wiring, in our price range, available NOW.) We had a list of stuff we wanted. (FOUR bedrooms, two bathrooms, a place for my office, nice neighborhood.) We had a list of stuff that we would wish for if we found a genie. (Laundry appliances. Four bedrooms. Nice view. Good sound insulation. Whole-unit air conditioning. New appliances. A spot for a bit of a garden.)
This place has everything except the dedicated office space. Aside from needing to steal half the living room for my office, this is better than we could possibly have hoped for.
Everything came together quickly. We saw the place, signed the lease, transferred the utilities, and moved the bulk of our stuff in the space of four days. This is the most panicked, ad-hoc move we've ever done.
I was in really bad shape by the end, walking around glassy-eyed and open-mouthed, pumped full of inhaler that did just enough to keep me out of the hospital. I wasn’t in physical danger yet, but I had pretty much stopped being a functioning adult. I didn’t really grasp how bad I was until a couple of days after we moved in. My lungs cleared up, my head cleared up, and I got some blissfully peaceful sleep.
Now that I’m alive again, I’m anxious to get back to work. But we’re on day two of a five-day internet blackout. So no work. (Except for writing this.) So I’m running a massive decontamination operation here at the new place. Everything has to be cleaned as it enters the house, or we'll end up dragging the poison into the fresh clean new place. All the clothes need to be laundered. All the furniture needs to be wiped down. Instead of packing the empty cardboard boxes away (like we did after out last move) we throw them away. (Boxes are magical dust magnets. Dust can even stick to the sides!)
The vigorous cleaning is a lot of work on top of the move itself. It might be overkill, but we're better safe than sorry. I don't fully understand the mechanics of how dander works. I doubt anyone really does. It's not like there's an animal dander equivalent of the Geiger counter that I can just point at some blankets and know how sick they'll make me or how much they will contaminate the air around me. The only testing apparatus we have are my lungs, and exposing yourself to possible hazards to see if they're hazardous so you can later avoid them is probably the stupidest possible approach to safety. So, we're just assuming that all fabric from the old place is poisonous until washed.
There are many bad things about this move, but the most vexing is the load it has put on Heather. In an ideal world, we would have had friends and family lined up to help with the move, but we couldn’t get help on such short notice. (There was actually a long-planned family event going on the day of the move. There were other family members we might have asked, but all the healthy young people are busy.) I don't dare go back to the old pace, which means she and my oldest daughter (16) did most of the literal heavy lifting. So Heather has been working full-time, then coming home and moving all of our furniture herself.
As if to drive the point home, the neighborhood around the old place has gotten suddenly creepier. Some idiot drove by the apartment building across the street from the old place and fired a shotgun through one of the windows. (At the old place, my son could look out his bedroom window and see in the window where the attack happened. Thankfully, this was a couple of days after the move.) While my wife and youngest daughter were loading the car, a sketchy guy walked up to her, grabbed heather firmly by the arm, and started telling her how sexy she is and how big his dick was. The water company is back for some reason, and even swiped my wife's parking spot in front of our old place, forcing her to lug furniture half a block. The thoughtless jerk could easily have moved anywhere he liked, since he was just sitting behind the wheel, but instead the guy from Pennsylvania American Water just sat in his truck and watched my wife and kid schlep stuff down the street while he sat in our parking spot at the bottom of our steps.
Basically, the old neighborhood is like this twilight zone where people are always thoughtless, mean, and dangerous. We had a good first year at the place, but I don't think I'll be nostalgic for it anytime soon. While I wish we could have moved under less panicked circumstances, I’m really glad to be out of there.
We’re doing good now. The worst of the move is over, and the family was able to help clean the old place up. I’m healthy again, Heather has recovered, and it looks like we’ll end up better off in the end. The house is nice, the neighborhood is nice, the water isn’t cloudy with bits of plastic, and I’m not suffocating.
I’ve run the numbers. Because we couldn't properly plan the move ahead of time, we're going to have a full month of overlap where we're paying for both places. Rent for the old place, then (modestly higher) rent for the new. Plus the security deposit. Plus utilities at both places. Plus the cost of missing out on an Escapist column. Plus the cost of the stuff that got broken in the move. (My main monitor, and some random bits of furniture.) Plus the incidental costs of moving, which actually aren't all that incidental. The final cost of this move will be thousands.
Here’s the thing: The only reason we were able to do this was because of my Patreon money. It probably sounds like hyperbole to say that the campaign saved my life, but I honestly don't know how I would have gotten out of that jam without the support. You folks really did make a huge difference and saved our family from all kinds of heartache, uncertainty, and (much worse) financial loss.
So thanks. To all of you. Thanks for giving, thanks for reading, and thanks for taking interest in our little adventures.
– Shamus Young
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