Charmed, I’m sure

“Vintage charm” wins me over every time when it comes to housing. I may have written before about how thrilled I was to move into this hundred-year-old building back in 2008. It’s not nearly as cute as some of the old Portland houses I’ve seen, but it does look like the perfect setting for a tiny museum—if only there were period furnishings and historical tidbits typed on notecards. Alas, there is nothing historically notable about this building as far as I know.

After living here for a time, I’ve come to appreciate some of the antique qualities less and less. The walls were originally coated in lead-based paint, which recent owners have concealed with lumpy layers of hard-to-dust latex paint. (It’s recommended in the lease that no small children reside here, due to risk of lead poisoning.) The kitchen range—though very efficient—resembles an E-Z Bake Oven with gas burners. No Thanksgiving turkeys will ever see its interior. When I sauté something on the stove, oil puddles up at one edge of the pan because the floor slopes to the south. I’ve shivered through two winters here without using a space heater, even though the large windows don’t do much for insulation, and the wall unit doesn’t project much heat beyond an inconvenient radius. The bathroom, which has no windows, is large and drafty. Standing in the shower provides little comfort, as the water changes from hot to cold and back again.

For these and other reasons, I decided that now would be a good time to look for a new place to live. My salary is higher today than it was when I moved in, meaning that my options have expanded. I probably could afford a three-bedroom house in Felony Flats—or, preferably, a spacious one-bedroom apartment on the inner East Side. The apartment I viewed last weekend contained luxuries that I haven’t known since my college days: 800 square feet of space, a dishwasher, a dining nook, a balcony with a view, and—most exciting of all—a washer and dryer inside the unit. Those features tempted me, but they were set within a bland 1990’s-era housing complex that I couldn’t picture myself being happy in. I hadn’t known what it looked like before I made the appointment, and as soon as I walked up to the building I thought, This isn’t for me.

Maybe I’m needlessly depriving myself of modern conveniences, but I was totally taken in by the modest 1950’s four-plex I viewed the following day. It does offer a few upgrades from my current apartment: there is central heating, an absence of neighbors above or below, and hardwood floors that seem perfectly level. I toured the place with two other prospective renters, trying to picture how my furniture would look in there. I told the manager I would think about it, drove away, then came back fifteen minutes later to take a second look. Again I told her I would think about it, and drove off to complete other errands.

I kept checking the classified ads for other vintage apartments, but I couldn’t get the four-plex off my mind. I knew that it was kind of small, and not as cute as a vintage home with built-in bookcases and checkered tile on the kitchen floor. Also, it was only the second place I had viewed. Nevertheless, I was on the phone with the manager 28 hours later to ask if any applications had been submitted; none had. This morning, before work, I found myself at her kitchen table making out a check for the applicant screening fee. I expect that I’ll be approved within a day.

Did I mention how recently I began to consider moving? It was about seven days ago. But I think I’m ready for this.

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