It’s tough, doing time. If you’ve never been there, you can’t know what it’s like: the endless nights spent wondering if you’ll ever get out; the aggressive ones, always looking to start trouble; the ones who’ve simply snapped and walk around speaking gibberish to no one in particular; and the noise. My god, the noise. Sometimes you wonder if you’ll ever sleep again. When you do sleep you sometimes dream that it’s all over and you’re free. But then you wake up and realize that you still live at an apartment complex in El Cajon.
That’s how we refer to our current lease at Evergreen Gardens: doing time. Who knew that six months could take so long to pass? The last ice age passed more quickly. But now that the end finally drew near, we were actively searching for a better place. It seems so easy, doesn’t it? You simply select an available apartment, call the landlord, and voila! You’re in! Well, that’s not exactly how it works.
While it’s true that there are many apartments out there, finding one that fit our needs turned out to be much more difficult than previously imagined. Some of them don’t allow pets. This is a definite breaking point for us. Our cats, Pip and Squeaky, are part of the family. We don’t have children; we have them. Where we go, they go. So many times we would call about a place and everything would seem great. Then we would ask about the pet policy, and it would all fall apart.
Others were out of our price range. Call me crazy, but I just can’t bring myself to pay $1600 per month for a one bedroom apartment. The ones that did meet our financial needs were in the “hood.” I don’t mean a slightly poor and run down neighborhood. I’m talking hard core riff raff folks. To get an idea of what these areas were like, click on the URL below.
Then there were the snobby property managers who didn’t want to give us a chance. It seemed that some of them heard our Southern accents, looked at our casual dress, and immediately disqualified us from consideration without even looking at our information. I never knew that there were so many ways to be a bitch before running into these people.
It had begun to seem hopeless. How would we ever get out of “Hell Cajon?” Then one day, after running a few errands in San Diego, we were driving around the North Park area, looking at apartments. We’d already taken down the numbers for several, all somewhat underwhelming. We were just about to give up and head for the interstate when our luck suddenly changed.
We were driving up Mississippi Street (all of the cross streets in the area are named after states), when all of sudden we saw the perfect place. It was a cottage. Not an apartment, but a cottage. There were six of them, and one was for rent. I dialed the number on the sign and actually got an answer, which is unheard of in property management circles. Normally this type of blatant disregard for the rules would get a person fired, (What! You actually answered a phone call?) but in this case the managers were a married couple who didn’t play the usual real estate games.
The lady who answered (who turned out to be one of the managers) arranged a viewing the following day, a Thursday. After looking at the apartment, we immediately submitted an application. The man who showed us the place, who was the husband of the lady I had spoken to previously, and whose name was Emile, informed us that we should hear something by the first of the week.
We spent Friday running errands (taking our recycling to the center, cleaning, buying new shoes), and waiting. We should have been nervous but weren’t. Somehow it all seemed as if it would work out. We had a great night that night. I think we knew we were on the brink of turning it all around.
I was awakened at 9:00 AM on Saturday morning by the ringing of my cell phone. I got out of bed and staggered into the living room. I snatched up the phone, somehow knowing that it would be Emile. It was indeed. The apartment was ours. We set a time to meet him and sign the lease. I hung up the phone, went into the bedroom, and hugged Dena. We’d done it!
Driving to San Diego to meet Emile, I couldn’t believe it was true. We would be leaving Evergreen Gardens, El Cajon, and our a**hole neighbors behind! We exited I-8 and headed down Park Avenue toward our future. As we approached Mississippi Street, I half expected the cottages to have disappeared. Perhaps they were like the village of the smurfs, which couldn’t be seen unless it wanted to be.
My irrational fears turned out to be unfounded. We met Emile as planned and paid the deposit. As I shook his hand, I couldn’t help but think that what had happened was meant to happen. Anyone could have called about the cottage before we came along. The rent was more affordable than anything we’d seen previously, and we would actually have space between our place and the neighbors. You Seinfeld fans will understand what I mean when I say that the whole thing was a festivus miracle!
Speaking of Seinfeld, it’s now time for today’s top ten list. In honor of my favorite television show of all time, here are my top ten episodes, in no particular order:
- The Soup Nazi: “Adios, muchacho!”
- The Cadillac: Jerry’s father is “impeached.”
- The Serenity Now: Loyd Braun works with George and Frank.
- The Muffin Tops: Peterman reality tour
- The Package: Jerry refuses a package with no return address.
- The Pool Guy: “Why don’t you just tell me the movie you want to see?”
- The Kiss Hello: Kramer wants everyone in the apartment to say hi.
- The Gymnast: George eats an éclair out of the trash.
- The Fire: So much for women and children first.
- The Contest: “Master of your domain.”
There you have it; my version of a magical Christmas tale. For pure miracle factor, I would put it right up there with the best of them. Already, we are planning for our move. So much to look forward to in the new year. You Seinfeld addicts can post your own favorite episodes in the comments section if you like. As always, thanks for reading. I now leave you with this traditional Christmas wish: “I’ve got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re gonna hear about it!” May the airing of greivances begin.