We are bursting at the seams. Cliché, yes. My reality, absolutely yes. A developed world/privileged life problem? Couldn’t be truer.
When Aaron and I first started living together, we rented a 2 bdr/2bath with a glorious view of Chicago’s brilliant Lake Michigan. We watched fireworks from our balcony and living room from Memorial Day until Labor Day, twice, and sometimes thrice a week to the point where we didn’t even care to enthrall in it on some days. Even though the combining of our individual dwellings into one apartment meant we had to rent a small storage space for the overflow stuff, we managed great. We were unmarried and without kids.
Sq. ft – 1250
We bought our first home a few blocks from this rental place. Our first home. This is the home where Aaron proposed to me. This is the home, on the penthouse rooftop of which, we got married surrounded by our families and close friends. This is the home where we brought our first child home from the hospital. Our stuff grew but our condo was bigger and came with its own designated storage space.
Sq.ft – $1350 – A 2/2 with a den converted into a nursery
We moved to San Jose and rented a three-story townhouse but still a 2/2 (sq. ft. 1230) -somewhat of an upgrade because we had an attached garage with tandem parking for two cars and things would have been fine, except, we now brought our second child home from the hospital here and we needed space. A lot more space.
With boxes of differently sized hand-me-down clothes for both Baby E and TJ, books that were previously housed in my office where I worked when I lived in Chicago, winter clothes (which we brought with but have never needed in SJ), and a whole lot of kitchen stuff we had to put away, downsizing from our big old kitchen to this smaller new one in our rental, our garage is stuffed. It is with some level of creativity alone that we are able to park two cars in there.
Aaron and I haven’t had our own space in our room since the day Baby E came home, . We have barely even slept in our room, separated by kids and bedrooms, each sleeping in a different room for various reasons, and not because we had a fight. I fantasize about the day we get our bedroom back, the little pleasures of watching TV in bed after the kids go to sleep, or reading on our iPads before going to bed, or showering without worrying about the kids’ sleep schedules or about waking them up…
SO…when a recent series of events made me reach a point where I wanted to kick both kids out of our room and just sleep undisturbed for a few hours….I knew it was time to look for a house to rent, one where each kid could have his and her own room and us, our own space. We were still bound by lease on our current townhouse so considering this was a big deal. It would also mean carrying two leases and potentially making two payments for a little while until our current landlady who was kind enough to allow us out of our lease should we find a new renter, found a new renter.
We found a place, we saw it, liked it, we applied, our application was approved, we were to go in yesterday to sign the lease and hand in the check for the deposit. The financial risk of the decision was really weighing in on me. So, at the visit yesterday, we requested our potential new landlord and his wife to please give us one more day and promised to meet them here again today (the next day) with our deposit. We just needed a day. We wanted to talk everything over with Aaron’s parents too just to hear what they had to say and if they saw any loopholes in our reasoning to move out and to which we were somehow blind.
After a productive chat with them, we were confident of our decision and were supremely excited to walk in today with our check and sign the lease. TJ was especially excited. Aaron met us at the “new home” driving in from work and I drove there with the kids. We soon found out that I had an email from the landlord and that the rental place was “not available”…just like that!
If Aaron and I were disappointed, it was TJ who, in crying, expressed our sentiments for us. He was really excited about the “new home” and getting his room. After returning home, going through the motions of lunch and putting both kids to nap, I wrote the following email response.
I know how Aaron and I are partially to be blamed for what happened. We just didn’t have the confidence to immediately sign the lease in this cut-throat rental market due to the huge financial risk we’d be taking on. It is partially our fault, mine mostly, because I was the one dragging my feet. Still, what I wrote, holds true. I can completely understand William’s perspective but you know how you try to make sense of things by saying, “if I were in his shoes, I’d probably have done the same thing”…only, I know I would not have done the same thing.
Even if I was disappointed that my potential new renters did not sign the lease and there was a chance they could come back the next day and say they didn’t want to rent my place after all, if I knew about them as much as these people knew about us from our application, I would definitely have given them that day. Maybe not a minute more than 12:30 – if they hadn’t shown up at 12:30 p.m. sharp, I would have made the call to the other renters who would have wanted my place, but I would have given them until 12:30 p.m. Why?
Because even the best of business transactions have an element of humanity to them, or at least they should. Because, if Anne Frank, going through everything she did, can still manage to say that she continued to believe people are inherently good, then who am I to argue with that logic? Because, sometimes, it makes more sense to do business with people who are nice and whom you like over who may pay you a little bit more but turn out to be jerks or cunning. Clearly, we were not very likable to William.
On the other hand, as much as it hurts to admit it, it was never personal and it was always, always, just business and if that was what it was, I am glad as glad can be that we did not end up renting this place.