I am only here for about 10 days and I have been already moving from San Francisco to Oakland.
Last year I was moving 4 times with Rajendra and hopefully this year it will be only one more time. The fact of not having a stable place to live seems to follow me also in my relationship! But this time we put energy and time into finding a place. A place where we can spend time on our own without roommates, parents or anybody who fortunately went on holidays so that the 2 homeless ones can take-over the flat.
Something became more serious and challenging between us. I think this is mostly happening because we are tired of being always surrounded by other people, we have to be either social with or grateful. And in fact we are exhausted of not knowing what we want and if we really have a future together with all obstacles as our companions. The factor of permanent packing, adjusting to new surroundings, being apart from each other and finding places to live in distracts us to feel and understand if we truly have a common ground together. I hope a cosy place where we finally can get to know each other in a self created atmosphere will lead us to solutions we need in order to move on with our lifes.
But we are not there yet. It is exhausting, frustrating, ridiculous, interesting and funny at the same time to look for a place to live.
I realized that this is the first time for me to go house hunting. When I left my home in the little town I grew up I moved to Langenfeld. I have only seen 2 places there, applied for the one I wanted and got it. It was a cute little place, with a huge balcony and a built-in kitchen which was my mother’s farewell present. Despite the fact that Langenfeld was definitely not a town I could relate to I felt home in my apartment for quite some time. It had been a retreat from the urban hubbub (I love that word) and from all these 1000 of things I was doing at that time.
The 2nd and so far last place I moved in was in Duesseldorf. The apartment kind of fell into my lap as Agnes found the place through Sandra and she was actually living in that house. The whole house hunting procedure took about 10 minutes on the phone. Agnes called me about moving in together. I said yes before I haven’t even seen the flat. Sandra’s vision of having 2 friends in the same house worked out beautifully and we had good, good times there.
Here are some thoughts and stories of the house hunting odyssey from the passed week:
There was one apartment with a broken toilet seat and as I asked the manager if it will be replaced he said seriously: “No, it is still functioning.” Can you believe that?! A broken toilet seat is functioning and it probably will make you happy to squeeze in the flesh of your butt every time you use it!
We have seen so many crappy and bad kept places for a horrendous amount of money. All these stingy landlords who think a good location makes up for filth, dirt, good views or the desperation to find a spot! It is depressing when the subtle anticipation after the picture-seeing and the appointment-making process burns down in an instant while approaching the place or at the latest when the manager opens the door to another boxy apartment which was either built without phantasy or renovated in such a poor, tedious and hideous way.
But we have also seen great spots and helpful people who have a sense of what you need and they really try to move you in the right direction.
The funniest and sometimes really outstanding part of the quest are definitely the on site managers who are showing the places.
The managers I can remember:
I got the chance to get to know an anxious old man, emigrated from Ethiopia with no interest at all in who we are or what we are doing.
2 days ago we met Jason, a little Chinese man who was almost racing through the 61unit house with his mobile phone microphone attached to his ear. He talked us through the apartments in the pace of a machine gun. He pointed out of the window so we could see his car parking in the 2nd row with blinking hazard lights. He said that he has no time to look for a parking spot. I think he is proud about his busy life.
Oh! And there is Philip who has the typical black people slang we all now from Hollywood movies. I had a hard time to understand a single word! He liked Raj’s flower shirt so much that he would have offered him to buy it if he wasn’t 3 times as wide as him.
Then there is Susan, an older lady who has been a Raj Neeshie in the 70ies. Very soft and tender energy flows around her. Her husband just had a hip replacement and i could feel that he is her priority right now. Her 1 bedroom apartment is so far the favorite place.
Than I remember Dave who showed us a studio in the mountains with a fantastic view and nature around I could die for ! (you can see the view from it in one of the pictures). Unfortunately it isn”t very practical to live so far up the hill.
Well and Terry! A well organized old lady. She even maintained a system for all the additional papers that fly in with the mail. Her concept IS functionable and impressive. She could be from Germany J. I was stunned about her ability to give you an overview about her personal life in about 10 minutes and managing at the same time to get all necessary information from the potential tenants.
We also met Rufus. He was the father of the landlord and told us about his past repeating himself many times. He is probably suffering the beginning of Alzheimer. A wanderer and a sportsman as he described himself. He admitted that only his through talent playing basketball he could accomplish his education.
Yeah. And then there is the gay couple. Alex and Chris. They bought Rajendra’s computer. As we drove by their house to drop it off they received us in bath robes! How bizarre but I loved it! Surprisingly, but not for someone who just came from India 🙂 we found out that they are designing and renting apartments. Today we saw a beautiful little place which has a deck as an extension to the living room and an attic you can store all your guests. And we also saw a luxurious big apartment. Have you ever seen a sailing boat chandelier? There is one hanging in Alex’ and Chris’ apartment it is probably one of the most tackiest and off-key acessoire I have ever seen in my life but it is gorgeous!!
As Alex is running to become the couselor of West Oakland he knows alot about that area which is still considered as a dangerous place to live. A few days ago I got lost in West Oakland on the bicycle and I would say that during the day that area is rather interesting than dangerous. People are poor and mostly black, but there is a changing vibration in the air and there are things to do and to create. I like that.
Tomorrow I will help Alex with 17 kids. We will feed them and take them to a kind of party of a science institution. I don’t really know. I will find out tomorrow.
Here are some pictures of the places ….