We now live in a 130-year-old Italianate-style house. Before you get too excited, understand that this isn’t one of those grand Victorian homes you’ll find featured in Architectural Digest. You know, the kind that’s been meticulously restored to its original glory while stealthily introducing modern amenities. No, this is one of those homes that was haphazardly chopped up into apartments in the 1960s. The kind with walls thrown up to divide large rooms and create new ones, with doorways sealed up and transoms painted shut. I choose to define the place as “quirky” and leave it at that.
One of the few features of the interior that remains original and untouched is the electrical wiring; we need surge protectors for everything, and can’t plug in more than one item per outlet. One room will have perfectly preserved hardwood floors, the next 1970s-vintage linoleum that may or may not contain asbestos, and the next covered in wall-to-wall carpet that likely dates to the 1980s. Katie is terrified of the basement, which is dark and unfinished and (as she puts it) “all Blair Witchy”.
So why did we move to This Quirky Place?
So why did we move here? For a start, the rent is insanely cheap. Katie and I have decided to live in a frugal, minimalist manner and put everything we have into our business ventures. We are extremely lucky have found this place, and grateful to have landed it. The house has a ton of room and plenty of natural light, which makes it a perfect studio space. There’s more than enough square footage for the things we have planned. Tax rates are small-business friendly. This is where Katie will grow her career as an artist, and I can continue to expand Dancing Lights Press. From a strictly practical, entrepreneurial perspective, this is the place.
Arts, culture, Community
The area around us is an old, named neighborhood with a lively arts community. We’re within walking distance of museums, galleries, and parks. A former occupant of the space we’re renting now owns a gallery further down the block. We can hop on a train and be in any of a half-dozen culturally significant cities in under a day. Grocery stores, affordable restaurants, and even a zoo are a casual stroll away.
The people we’ve met so far have been astonishingly friendly, outgoing, and helpful. I have had more conversations with total strangers in the past few days than I have probably had in my entire life. The city does have a reputation for crime, but I have rarely felt safer because of all of the warm, kind people we’ve encountered so far. I understand now what our landlord meant when he said he was screening tenants more for fit than for means.
We live three doors down from a beloved former mayor of this city. The unofficial mayor of the neighborhood lives a block away. We’ve been promised an introduction to both of these esteemed individuals. I honestly want to cry over how strangers have gone out of their way to make us feel welcome. This does not align with any of my previous life experiences. I’m going to set up a carefully curated and tightly locked-down Facebook account just so I can join the neighborhood community group, that’s how much I’m affected by this sense of hospitality.
There’s still a lot to do
There’s still a lot to do before we’re completely settled in. We have practically no furniture, and are waiting for our new local bank account to activate so we can go buy some. Setting up internet was far harder than it needed to be, but we’ve just come from a place where it was included in the rent and you simply needed to plug in a router. We need to get local ID, and a library card, and some other things squared away. There are undoubtedly essential tasks that we somehow haven’t thought of, and things we don’t know about, but we’ll deal with them as they arise.
What’s most important, though, is that we’re here. We’re slowly settling into our new normal and getting back to work. I’m standing roughly where my desk is going to be. Katie’s in her studio elsewhere in the building, writing her own blog post. It’s going to be challenging, but ever onward and ever upward. We wouldn’t have made it this far without you, dear reader, and for that I will be forever grateful.