I left Savannah on the fifth of September, ready to move into my new apartment in Decatur right after my long Labor Day Weekend. Nope. New apartment in Decatur turned out to have mold problems and a very quaint, still unappealing water damage issue. No living there - I walked into the leasing office with tears in my eyes to request my deposit back. Crying I guess because I couldn't believe I was back at square one after a month of wrangling a place to live, also because I had everything I own piled in my car, obscuring my view of the road from all windows and mirrors... how would I even survive the drive back to my mother's house?
The next few days were a whirlwind of appointments at privately owned properties and apartment complexes in Atlanta. Let me just say that looking for an apartment by yourself, even in a city that you grew up in and know very well, can be one of the most overwhelming tasks. I saw many of the typical disgusting kitchens, stained floors, leaky ceilings, and poorly patched walls that you would expect, but oh so much more. The one Candler Park duplex that will go down in history had cracks in the ceiling so large that I could see the rafters in the roof, cigarette butts strewn across the floor, and two bunny rabits chilling in the living room, chomping on a head of iceberg lettuce (not to mention their little bunny turds - everywhere). It was all I could muster to bid a kind farewell to the bunnies and drive away as fast as I could.
In the midst of this chaos, my laptop decided to revisit an old problem with logic board failure which sent me to the Apple Store in Lenox for some repairs. I had been so consumed with my housing misery that I never imagined the obvious situation I would be faced with: pack up your laptop in a box and let us ship it away for a week. My "genius" waited for me to reply, but all of a sudden a week's worth of forgotten deadlines and stale unreplied emails flooded back to my memory. I spent the next hour and a half at the genius bar, finishing up a few wedding invitation files and backing up my hard drive - trying to accomplish enough to tide me over until my laptop would return to me (hopefully not stripped of all the information I've put on the hard drive for three years, but still a possibility). All kinds of iPhones run over by cars and MacBooks with dead batteries came and went while I stood and tapped my foot and tried like hell to get myself together enough to relinquish my livelihood encased in an aluminum body. Eventually I felt I had accomplished all that could be accomplished and let the little guy in a grey beanie take my computer away. I have yet to get it back, but hopefully that will be a happy reunion.
I went to Antrhopologie after that to buy myself a few knobs. Even if I can't get my china cabinet out of storage, I can dream of setting it out, filling it with multicolored Fiestaware and finishing it off with two aqua bubble knobs. I also bought the color wheel knob for the desk in my hopeful office. I like color wheels - no matter how specific the current color trends get or how ingrained a fad becomes, the color wheel brings me back to the basics. Able to make new, fresh decisions.
The Savannah Sand Gnats lost in their first round of the playoffs, which was very sad for the team, I'm sure - but this event brought Collin back home to Atlanta on Saturday morning. Finally, some help! Unfortuneately Collin rolled in with even more stuff piled into his car than I had even imagined... our toaster oven in its box was peeking about a foot out of the sunroof. The little wrench icon is illuminated on his dashboard, telling him he needs an oil change soon and very soon... but we thought it would be best to unload our cars before taking them to the shop. I don't think any mechanic needs to fight with my down comforter to get into the front seat. Also, our storage unit in Atlanta has its rent paid until the end of September, but the goal has always been to empty and relinquish the unit before October to avoid paying rent and storage in the same city at the same time (this is assuming we will have a rent payment by October... wishful thinking?).
We have found a very promising apartment in Decatur, one that we can rent for the next 18 months, with a variable rent rate based on whether we're using it for living or for storage - since we spend our summers away for baseball season. Isn't it amazing what a horrible housing market can produce in the way of unique rental agreements? It was a complete blessing to us, a perfect situation, even better than we could have imagined finding. The apartment is the perfect size, just what we need. The only problem is that I submitted my application and receieved a phone call from the real estate agency yesterday claiming that my credit report came back... blank. I don't know about you, but I was an art major. I never took a class on renting an apartment or finding out what a credit report really is. I've seen the "free credit score" commercials but their obvious tackiness and late night TV spots have made me wary. I tend to avoid any commercials that follow the ad for discount diabetes supplies sent to your door and precede "college in your pajamas," etc. When the agent called me from the real estate agency with the news that my credit could not be vouched for I felt an anxious pit in my stomach. Why had I been able to have two leases in my name prior to this and never hear about this issue? Was I really off the credit grid?
Here's what I learned about my credit: There are three companies that create credit reports for every individual, and the places where you do business may or may not report your transactions to these companies on a monthly basis. Your credit card, mortgage, car payments, and any loans you're paying off should always be reported. Other places like your apartment complex, utility companies, and even parking ticketers have the right to report delinquincies to the credit agencies - mostly they only take the time to report if something is wrong, not right. In my case, my mother added my name to her credit card while I was engaged and planning the wedding so that I could make payments on my own without having to call and ask for her card number five times a week. Since my mother has excellent credit and has never left a dime unpaid on her card, she did me a great favor by adding me to the account. My second open line of credit was my Direct Student Loan from college, which I have been paying back on time for the past ten months.
I also learned that you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three credit companies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) once a year. The only website authorized to provide this service is annualcreditreport.com. It is suggested that you stagger your reports from these companies to one every four months so that you can have an accurate picture of your credit year-round. I chose to recieve my report from TransUnion and found that I do in fact have multiple open lines of satisfactory credit, with no late payments, and therefore am not a credit void like the agent told me. His mistake. What an empowering personal economics lesson. I probably should have learned about it in high school, but I faintly remember watching The Incredibles in that class more than once...
I've always been an incredibly driven and thorough person. I make an effort to always deliver on my word, to say I'll do something and then do it. I therefore have always been confused when people told me that their palns "fell through." I always thought that was some sort of excuse for, "I was disorganized," or "I was scared," or "I wasn't responsible enough." I know that's an ugly thing to share about myself, but it's been my inmost thought response to that phrase for as long as I can remember. I don't let things fall through. Until now.
I've realized in these past two months that some things are out of your control. No, all things are out of your control. I have strong-armed enough situations into happening the way I planned, and now I've developed a pride inside that feeds the lie - "I made this happen for myself." But it is a lie. A hard one to face. The truth is that I have been inches from moving into four different apartments in the past two months, and no matter how hard I've tried or how responsible I've been, it hasn't happened. Something has fallen through. Does that mean that I don't deserve to find a place to live? Probably not. I have a sneaking suspicion that it means I won't get a place to live until I submit and declare that it has always been and always will be out of my hands. It has always been a gift.