Every now and again I wonder if we had started some long distance romance or even if we actually moved to Brooklyn together - I wonder if we would've got married. You learn unsavory things about someone when you really get to know them. Couples argue, the shiny, new relationship dissolves into the usual. Suddenly you're sitting on the couch boiling with rage over the way your significant other is breathing. So I'm glad we did it the way we did or our relationship might've fizzled, we would have broken up and we wouldn't be where we are now.
The way we got married is kind of the way we just rented a house some two thousand miles away. Stick with me, this is going somewhere, I swear.
We are moving smack dab in the center of Pennsylvania. The heart of Amish country. The nearest big city is State College. We're looking to move to one of the surrounding towns. The term 'town' is being generous. Really, they're villages. Little clusters of hundred-year-old homes surrounding a church and a market in a valley of rolling green hills, that kind of thing. But renting a house in that scenario is difficult. It's not like Craigslist is booming with ads from folks in these little hamlets. Most of the ads are for houses for rent in State College.
We've been monitoring Craigslist for a while now and the houses that fit our qualifications are few and far between. That's not to say that we have a slew of requirements. These aren't granite countertops and stainless steel appliance requirements, I assure you. These are three bedrooms, a bathroom and a fenced in backyard requirements. And we want to live within thirty minutes of Serge's family.
So, while we aren't expecting to rent a remodeled farmhouse, we don't want to move our children to a shithole either. You've got to be careful of the hillbilly factor, you know? Some backwoods feller lookin' to rent out his ramshackle, termite-ridden home.
The whole thing has been a scary, gut-churning exercise in patience as our end-of-June moving date looms ever closer. So you can imagine our excitement when we saw an ad that seemed to fit our requirements. The house looked okay from the outside, thing is, it was just the one photo:
Not the greatest photo, right? But it's a big, old house, like we want. Has a wraparound porch and is that a porch swing I spy? And there, right there to your left you can see the edge of a big tree. A tree! Yeah, the house looks kind of... tired? (Haunted?!?) But it has potential, we thought. And we'd only be renting it so we have a place to move to. It's not forever. What the hell, couldn't hurt to check it out, right?
So Serge set up an appointment for his mom and brother to go check out the house and take pictures. Turns out there was a lot of interest in this home. The rent is great. Like, $500 less than what we pay right now.
Cut to later that night. We're anxiously awaiting a call or an email filled with photos. The call comes. I'm all hopped up, flapping around Serge while he's on the phone, wondering what they're telling him about the house. He tells his mom to hold on and breaks the news: they didn't get a chance to take photos. The camera battery died. And because of all the interest in the house there were several people with appointments right in a row so they didn't really get a chance to thoroughly check out the house! We quiz them about what they did see and I hear a few things that sound questionable. The carpet in each bedroom is different. There's wallpaper in a lot of rooms. Different carpet? Crap. Wallpaper? Not so bad, it can be removed and the landlord said he's really flexible with anything his tenants do.
We go to bed mulling over the house. Should we aggressively pursue it because it fits all our requirements? It exceeds them, even! It has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, two (TWO!) staircases and a big mud room. There is even a deck in the backyard! But this is all heresay, we have seen nothing.
Fuck it. We decide to pursue it. We email the landlord, tell him we're extremely interested blah blah blah. And then we wait.
The next day the landlord's wife emails and says they've looked at all the applications and think we'll be the best fit, do we want the house?
Holy goat balls, we got the house! Holy goat balls, we've never seen the house!
More mulling. Do we take it? The backyard isn't fenced in. But it backs up to an elementary school where the dogs can run in the early or late hours... Non matching carpet - yuck. But it's just carpet, we're only renting for a year. Being annoyed by non-matching carpet is treading dangerously close to House Hunter assholes requiring granite. Two staircases? Fancy. Oh dear god, WHAT DO WE DO?
We rent it.
Last night the landlord went over to take some photos for us. I received her email while Serge was grabbing take-out. I caught a glimpse of fiery orange kitchen counter tops, slammed my laptop shut and opened a bottle of wine. I dialed Serge and told him to hurry, I didn't want to look at our house without him! I mentioned the fiery orange and Serge said "Yeah, Dave says the kitchen looks like Burger King
"What? He said the kitchen looks like Burger King and YOU DIDN'T TELL ME THAT?"
"Hurry home." I hung up on him and drank wine. Lots of it. And waited.
Serge arrived and we sat on our couch, two bookends clutching laptops. "Let's do this". I said. We gulped wine and logged on to the email containing all the photos. I'm not going to post the photo she sent us because the current tenants are in it but we googled orange countertops and this image popped up. Y'all, these are the exact counters, including the way the countertop is also the backsplash. These are the counters! I took another gulp of wine and we kept clicking. Here's the living room:
I love it. Look how high those ceilings are! Big, old windows. Nice lighting. I'm not going to bore you with all the photos. Every bedroom does have different carpet (but it looks brand new) and there is old wallpaper in every bedroom. Like this:
I dig the quirkiness of the whole thing. There's a photo of the bathroom and y'all, I'm telling you, that bathroom looks as big as my current master bedroom. Still. There is much we haven't seen and likely won't see until we get there. But I'm happy. Happy that this is actually happening. Happy that our landlords seem cool as hell. Happy even, that our counter tops are orange. Because guess who else has the exact same orange countertops? AWESOME TIMES A THOUSAND.