Unfortunately, I wasn't as involved in the apartment search as I would have liked to be. While I've heard many people gripe about the tedium of sorting through listings and making appointments, I actually enjoy house hunting. I've even toured apartments I have no interest in renting simply because the writer in me can't resist imagining all the possible lives that could transpire within their walls . Therefore, I would have liked to accompany Q. on her marathon run of apartment visits, but I wasn't able to make it to New York in time. By the time I arrived, essentially all that was left for me to do was approve the apartment that had emerged as Q.'s favorite.
Luckily, I really liked it. It met my two primary aesthetic requirements: hardwood floors and plenty of natural light (call me impractical, but I couldn't care less about the number of bathrooms). Even better, it's located in an older building (we all know how I feel about new apartment towers) on a pleasantly leafy street and has views that actually include trees.
The apartment has another feature which, like the bathrooms, doesn't rank high on my priority list but constitutes a surprising benefit all the same: a dishwasher. Unless you count my family home in Minneapolis, I haven't lived in a place with a dishwasher since I moved to Ecuador in 2006. During the fourteen months I lived in Quito, I never once saw a dishwasher in a private home. I saw a few in Santiago, including at my host family's house, but the vast majority of people I know in Chile rock the sink after dinner. When I expressed doubts as to whether we really needed such a luxury, I was told that many New York City building owners are installing dishwashers in an attempt to curb rat and cockroach infestations; apparently, not everyone washes the dishes.
When it came time to sign the lease, I tried everyone's patience by reading very carefully through all the articles of the contract and asking a slew of specific questions. The reason for this is pushing 90 and, as far as I know, still terrorizing tenants on Quito's west side. One of these days, I plan to devote an entire entry to the duplicitous landlord who made my life a living infierno until my roommate and I had the good sense to move. Despite the anguish this man put us through, I am grateful to him for teaching me the value of being an assertive renter, requesting clarification and insisting that everything be put in writing.
Up next are furnishing and decorating -- quite the tasks when you consider that neither Q. nor I own any furniture. Oh, well. At least we have somewhere to wash the dishes.