There is a surreal feeling I should be getting when setting about selecting another place to live. Perhaps I should mention that I am the sort of impatient person who gets daunted by too many choices, loathes going into large stores and generally gets a big headache when forced to spend more than twenty minutes on any one mid-range important decision. For bigger decisions such as a wheelchair van, an animal companion or new housing, my patience lasts a bit longer — so long as I encourage that surreal spidey sense to help me through the innumerable details. I rely on that old gut feeling when looking at a prospect, and thus far it’s served me well — when I’ve remembered to check it. The thing has saved me heaps of time and grey hairs.
Not that the latter matters, I now sport the very silvery-est of hair — and after all the cancer treatments, am pleased to still have it.
Whether looking for a place to buy (old days) or rent (the here and now) I have known almost immediately when looking over the right place, or other choice. Could be online or rolling through the door. Both my dogs came to me via the internet (carefully curated set of websites, of course) and the moment I saw their little faces in photos That Was It.
Seven and eight years later, it still is. Two gentle snoozlings can be heard to the right of my wheelchair.
The first time we three potential renters — my daughter, son-in-law and me — visited the house on Joya in Madera, California, it reached out with “I’m the one” vibes . A large, bright living room. workable kitchen for somebody in a wheelchair, nice dining room and pantry, two adequate baths and three good bedrooms with generous closets. A garage with automatic door opener, and a totally fenced backyard suitable for the romping of Elf and Opus, a hummingbird feeding station and patio space for the bonsai.
So the yard is naught but dried weeds and desert soil, there’s space to plant tall, gorgeous flowering things, to put up a shade somewhere. One time I had New Mexican friends who had spent a few years in California, who thought that “In California you just throw things at the ground and they grow.” Good old California clay is different, evidently, from rock solid New Mexico clay, often laced with caliche.
In a still-under-construction future neighborhood it was nice to find that, although it
possesses exactly ONE tree, that singleton has grown sufficiently to be visible when viewed through the front windows. Coming from my present (well aged) garden apartment with its gigantic pines, palms, magnolias, Crape Myrtles, Peruvian Olives and so on, this is culture shock. But hey — it is a tree on the south side and it can grow.
Thus when we were about to sign the lease for the place six weeks ago how taken aback was confident me when informed that, due to the machinations of a Craigslist scammer who targeted homes offered via Rently, a perfectly decent family had parted with a month’s rent and deposit (via a wire transfer) and felt strongly they had the right to go on living there till they’d got their money’s worth.
It’s hard to find a house for rent in Madera that is wheelchair accessible, welcoming to dogs, with the right number and size of rooms, (and doorways!) that’s in our price range. My daughter and her husband are, after all, saving for a home. And planning a family. We went on hunting, looked at a couple, one of which was almost okay, but not quite, plus being above our budget.
We were, due to a desire to get this move over with and on to the next phase of living in that particular city about thirty miles north of here, thinking of going with the lesser house when a phone call came through. Seems lawyers working on the situation with the squatters had managed to a) get the people their money back and b) finally agree that since the family still was in no hurry to get themselves into a legal agreement with a different landlord that there was no choice, legally, but to shut off the electricity. After that was done it was not too many days before….
We were back at the first house, the one that spoke to me, that we all liked, and finding that not only was there very little minor damage left behind, but we liked the house even better!
It’s going to be the newest place I’ve ever lived in, might even have certain capacities to interact with one’s smartphone. If we want to get into that. It’s got arches over many of the doorways, and the wall corners are nicely rounded.
So here am I, poring over maps, checking out how many supermarkets there are, getting ready to look up thrift shops and garden centers, working out where, maybe, to put the furniture, the wifi, and the Sparklett’s water we think might do better for us and the dogs than what comes out of the faucets. Thoughtful scientific people we know use it.
This whole region of California has unfortunate air and often water quality levels as well. Such environmental factors can take years off a life, forcing us to consider how, with a tiny budget, we can best protect ourselves. We have excellent reasons for wanting to stay here, not the least of which is Paco’s job as a music industry journalist. Jericha has a job she enjoys, working with school photographers, I’ve got my modest Social Security and thousand and one creative projects and other undertakings.
Taking off to go sign the lease with the others, I felt fluffy and light like a little white cloud on a soft spring day… Even the region’s ferocious summer heat, enhanced by the bugbear we are learning to accommodate, climate change, has softened over the past week and more. How very pleasant and cool are 95º (35ºC) days after the weeks of 105º (40.5ºC) type days! This week we may even touch down in the 80s.
I’ve nearly forgotten what the cool, cool 80s feels like.
Here’s to going full circle of spidey sense and coming out back at the right place, exactly where you started… Life is good. We get the keys on Monday!