One of the fun parts of looking for a new place to live, is actually checking out the apartments. It's the same thing I love about being a real estate photographer. It keeps the voyeuristic part of my personality happy. (This reminds me of a guy I went out on a date with once. I explained just that. I like to check out homes and apartments. That's why my job as a real estate photographer is so perfect for that little part of my voyeuristic personality. He took that to mean I liked to watch people having sex and kept bring it up and asking me about watching people...that was the last date I went out with him.) Anyways, I love looking inside houses and apartments! I suspect this is why Colleen and I get along so well. We have spent a number of hours in the car taking the "long" way home. Just so we can look at houses and hope to catch a glimpse inside. Sometimes the "long" way home takes 20 minutes. Other times that "long" way home takes 2 hours. We will get lost just trying to find a new pretty route with pretty houses. We've pulled over for yard sales just to check out a house and we have gone to open houses to look inside. I always love deciding who between the two of us is looking for a new house and what our budget should be at this house..."One million budget for today or just 600,000? I think you and Dave need a five bedroom house for you and your triplets" You gotta have a good line or the agent won't take you seriously people.
So, it's perfect that she would be the one to come with me to look at apartments when Mario can't. I walk around decorating in my head and try to decide where my sewing and craft station will go. I seem to completely forget any and all questions I should be asking and generally walk away with more questions than I started with. She generally plays the bad cop...she is also the more level headed one. It ends up working out though. She is the one, after all, who pointed out that there was a hole in the wall and could see the outdoors from where we were standing in the living room/dining room/bedroom, while we were checking out a nice "guest house" (otherwise know as a shitty pool house).
On Monday, I called to look at a guest house. I spoke with the owner Saul. He was stern on the phone, so I didn't know what to expect from him as a landlord. I honestly had written him off. I felt like it was a little too far away and a little too good to be true...but the voyeur in me thought we should look anyway. A guest house in San Marino....way too good too be true!
Tuesday, Colleen and I headed over to San Marino. We headed towards it, drove through it, and then out the other end to Alhambra. To where I didn't want to live. We still pulled in though and searched for ten minutes trying to find Saul. The front house appeared to be a sorority house inhabited by girls who didn't know how to answer the front door when we knocked. No I am not being snide. She actually told us that she didn't know how to open the door...they used the side door. She did however point us in the direction of Saul.
We walked back to the tiny house, then around the corner to the huge private yard! There sat Saul at a folding table doing a little work. He did look stern. He introduced himself and told us to take a look around. As voyeurs do, we looked and snooped. We checked out every door and nook. It was a confusing little hobbit hole. It was old and dark. Off the kitchen there were four rooms. The living room, a room with a toilet, a room with a sink, and a room with a shower. It was interesting, but nothing grabbed me.
When we walked back out, Saul said "What do you think of your castle?" That's when he had us. Stern Saul ended up being the sweetest man I've ever met. He used the stern to get a feel for people. If he figured you were good people, he opened up and let you in. A nice accent and the warmest smile you'll ever see. Saul was a very proud father, a hard worker, and quite a flirt. He woo'd Colleen by calling her the smartest person on earth for using the bus as transportation. He woo'd me in with talk of lemon and avocado trees. Then when he knew he had us, he turned into the flirty touchy guy. We talked of travel, college and the importance of continued learning. We discussed smart phones and gave our own tips on choosing a new tenant. We must have stood there and talked for half an hour...maybe more!
The longer we stood there though, the more of a problem I was having. I knew this place wasn't for us. I didn't want to live behind a sorority(although I know Dexter would be in heaven). I didn't want to live in that dark little house. It didn't feel right for us. I did love the huge yard (Colleen had already planned one of Mario's BBQs in the yard and had already invited Saul). The only part of this place I loved besides the yard was the lemon tree, the avocado tree, the brand new washer and dryer...and Saul.
As we walked toward the sorority house and towards our car, Saul was all but begging us to move it. He said he knew good people and we were them! He asked when I could bring Mario over...although I think he was hoping that just Colleen and I would move into that back house with him. And even though I knew this place wasn't for us...I told Saul I would bring Mario over on Thursday. I knew I was lying to him and I was even more disappointed that I probably wouldn't get to talk to Saul again.