Home sweet saga: Apartment hunting in the Bay Area—Part 2

Oakland in black and white. By Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Oakland in black and white. By Thomas Hawk via Flickr

If you read last night’s post, you already know that our search for a reasonably sized, reasonably priced, reasonably located apartment in the Bay Area has been, well, reasonably frustrating.

To be honest, we expected as much. When you mention to someone in Las Vegas—land of bottom-dollar stucco rentals where anyone with a paycheck can claim a three-bedroom house as their own—that you’re moving to San Francisco, they tend to look alarmed. “Don’t you know how expensive it is?” they ask, genuinely concerned that we have somehow missed the countless news stories on the city’s alarmingly high real-estate prices. We had not. We knew what we were getting ourselves into. We just weren’t prepared for what happened this week.

It started with us getting lucky, logging onto Craigslist at just the right moment to notice a new pin jutting from the map of Oakland. It was a 1-bedroom cottage in Temescal, walking distance to BART with hardwood floors and plenty of character. It had laundry on-site, updated appliances, a private, fenced backyard and—get this—a koi pond, where actual fish swam in loose ovals in view of the living room. The rent was in our budget and two words sang from the post like a soprano’s show-stopping aria: “Pets negotiable.” We hadn’t found an apartment, we’d found a unicorn.

The showing went about as you’d expect. We gushed at the tasteful layout, the sun-lit kitchen, the massive bedroom with wood-burning fireplace and the master closet so big it turned a corner. We promised our dog would shower everyone with licks and tail wags. We offered to pay six months’ rent up front. We tried not to throw ourselves at the feet of the landlord and beg to be his tenants. We were his last showing, he said, he’d make a decision tonight.

On the walk back to BART we did the thing you’re not supposed to do: We let ourselves fantasize about life at our new Temescal cottage—the mac ‘n’ cheese shop where we’d get lunches, the boxing gym where we’d work them off. We imagined Tovin working from the patio with Samba by his side. We pictured having friends over for dinner, showing off our wood-shingled diamond in this hip Oakland ‘hood. We were in deep.

I got the email a few hours later while we were waiting for ice cream cones at the Mitchell’s counter. We had joked that we would use them to drown our sorrows, but they didn’t come close to doing the trick. I scanned the note for some clue that we might still have a shot, but it was all there: the gentle letdown, the apologetic tone, the decision to go with a dog-less someone else, even though he was sure we would have worked out fine. I felt like I’d been broken up with after a promising first date.

When I got back to the house where we’re staying with some dear friends, I sat down on the bed and let myself cry for approximately 20 seconds.

And Samba—our loving, wonderful pup that no landlord wants as a tenant—licked up the tears.

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