Everything I saw was a wash. I looked everyday on Zillow, Apartmentfinder, Craigslist.... A few more but I don't remember what they were called. And then, randomly, at the beginning of June I saw a posting for an apartment over a shop in downtown. I thought "How cute. Very metropolitan." And was about to scroll on when I really noticed the square footage. It was a large apartment. Two bedrooms, but lots more room than other two or three-bedroom apartments, and WAY less in rent per month. I shook Jonathan awake (poor man) and said we should look into it. In a sleepy stupor he agreed. "Tomorrow" he said. So we did.
We updated our rental resume and submitted that to the shop owner. Not knowing if we would actually get it or not we started making lists of what we needed and what could go. In short order I'd organized a very disorganized yard sale and
gave away sold half of our possessions. The kids ran a very successful donut and lemonade stand and earned quite a bit of spending money for the summer. I felt happy getting rid of things, even if we didn't end up moving, and we all got very sunburned.
We found out days later that we had been approved for the apartment. We could move in July 1st.
In the mad rush of packing we got rid of another two thirds of our things, the kids were limited to 20 items each (that was so hard). I actually still feel like we could get rid of more, but I will take it a day at a time. If I were to suggest getting rid of half of what we have left I am afraid the other four people that live with me would rise up in open rebellion.
Oh, and both of our computers broke as we were getting things finalized. Let me tell you how fun that was. It is the second time that I've had a computer's hard drive BREAK. The thing was only four years old, as was my laptop that had the same thing happen four years ago. I think I take too many pictures....
But we got moved.
The apartment is on Main Street, over a corner shop, so we only share one wall with another building. For the first year and a half we lived in this town I never noticed the front door, but suddenly there it was. I think someone had put some sort of charm on it so ordinary people couldn't find it. Only if you were looking for it would it pop out at you, our own little Leaky Cauldron. We have 16 steps from the street level to our apartment, and we've all become experts at gliding up and down those stairs rather noiselessly. The rooms are decently sized, and hold us and the essentials nicely. When the kids keep on top of their room you can hardly tell it is a tight fit. We have no room for fluff, that has been an adjustment. No extras of anything. Our tiny bathroom sports a one man shower that provides ample motivation to not add any bulk to one's body. The kitchen has a multitude of deep cupboards, decent counter space, and lots of storage over the stove, fridge, and counters. There is also an open shelf that helps fill the gaps. We have a small dining room that has windows on the two exterior walls. We have a perfect view of the corner of our streets, and Peter has spent hours at those windows watching cars, fire trucks, people, puppies, and, several times a day, an aweeyance (ambulance) rushing by. Our living room has two windows that let us look on Main St and people watching opportunities abound; we've managed to fit all of our books onto a corner shelf and some EXPEDIT shelves from IKEA. We have a tiny couch, and my Grandpa's chair, and hope to someday soon have a digital piano against one wall (we gave away my piano, it wouldn't fit up the stairs). Not a floor is level, nor a doorframe. Some might call it character, but that hardly captures the apartment's irregular and unbalanced charm. We call it the apartment that Jack built. There are many tall windows, and the apartment is bright and cheery all day long, and we enjoy our crooked accommodations.
The size of this apartment has taught me that I am not the only one who must multitask. Every piece of furniture must serve dual purposes. Nothing extra is kept, and I have to be very clever with the closet spaces (which are actually quite roomy). I thought I'd be good at this kind of minimalism, but there is a steep learning curve. I'm enjoying it, and the challenges I've found in exploring usefulness and necessity.
We spend every morning out, both to avoid going stir crazy and to avoid excess noise while the shop is open. We go to the park, walk to the library, stroll to the grocery store for breakfast and picnic at the gazebo on the way home. We spend time at the laundromat (the attendants know my kids' names now), and we wander around the farmer's market. Most weeks we've gone to a friend's pool at least once and have all gotten pretty brown and freckled. In the afternoons the big kids read while Peter takes a nap. I cook dinner on our vintage stove (it has electrical outlets ON the stove, I've never seen that before) and reassess usefulness and necessity every time I wash anything in our little sink. Dishes are all useful and necessary. As are cups and cutlery. Unfortunately.
At night we listen to the local bands play at the restaurants. Some of them are pretty good. The cars can be noisy, but we've mostly tuned it out. Only the ambulances get special attention anymore.
I am quite in love with our quirky apartment. We are the only family living in the shop apartments, so we've come to the attention of many of our neighbors. It would be hard not to be noticed when a woman and three small children come magically out of our little door. It is a funny little club we belong to, and I enjoy seeing our fellow apartment dwellers across and down the street from us. We can all see each other's lights, and it is a comforting thing to know that we are all there.
And so we have begun a metropolitan adventure in a quiet, innocent little downtown. The kids are happy, their parents are happy, and I think our apartment is happy. I'll post some pictorial evidence of our adventures eventually, but for now my ramblings will have to do.