Isn’t this a beautifully serene shot of the San Antonio River Walk?
Well, my friend, let me tell you what was not beautiful and serene. Our move to San Antonio, that’s what!! I can’t begin to tell you the nightmare this most recent- and final- military move was. Alas, as a writer, it’s my job to, so I’ll do my best.
I’ll just briefly mention the packers we had. Now, while a couple of the crew were efficient and professional, one was just downright inept. I’m not trying to be mean, but when your 13-year-olds mention how they feel sorry for how ignorant a person is, you kinda sorta take note. Let’s just say spelling wasn’t this guy’s strong suit. For that matter, neither was packing. Now, the spelling I could overlook. But, my guy! You’re a PACK-er!! You should at least be good at that, no? My “cloths” boxes- once we got to the other side- not only contained household items…like my KNIVES…but, this dude also threw clothes into the bottom of the boxes.
Bro! Hangers were plentiful in my home. All you had to do was ask.
As a military family, we are more than used to dealing with hard to deal with packers. It really is par for the course, sadly enough. But, what we aren’t so accustomed to is renting “luxury townhomes” that look worse than what I lived in in the hood. The place we were planning to move into on Thursday was going to exceed our expectations.
Okay, so, our plan is to downsize like a mo’fo’ and build our forever home. Our forever “home” will, essentially, be a kitchen surrounded by rooms, and rightfully so. For more than 20 years, I’ve postponed my work as a chef to support my husband’s career. Twenty years means I’m no longer that spring chicken who could pull 14 hour shifts behind the line in someone’s stiflingly hot kitchen. I’m past my prime, Friend! The travesty!! [catch me as I swoon]
At any rate, we decided to downsize from our nearly 3,000 sq ft home to a muuuuuuccccccchhhhhhhh smaller townhome. On multiple trips down to San Antonio for interviews at my husband’s potential job (which he landed- hooty-hoo!!!) we checked out said townhomes. We landed at this “luxury” apartment complex that had 2 and 3 bedroom townhomes in addition to “luxury” apartments.
Don’t worry, Friend, you’ll soon find out why “luxury” is surrounded by quotations like I was almost surrounded by squad cars when I rolled up to that joint.
“Luxury” Townhomes…or so we thought…
…doesn’t that look nice?
It does. It also looked very nice when we toured the joint a month and a half ago. These “luxury townhomes” were supposed to give us city living with enough space for me to have an office. An office was necessary because I need to pay for that kitchen I’m fittin’ to ball-tha-hell out on.
And look at those garages! Garages are important in San Antonio. Hailstorms here are no joke, so one of my requirements was to have a garage for both cars. Requirement met.
Well, I mean, requirements almost met. The rent was stoopid high. Higher than the mortgage on our 5 bed/3bath/3 car garage home. But, it was less than 6 minutes away from the Soldier’s new job; it was also near tons of shopping. And, it was still in a city that affords me tons of opportunities as a freelance food writer. I could deal.
The Golden Rule
The Golden Rule states: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Right?
Well, we are firm believers in that rule. Soooo…we packed up our home before I cleaned it like a madwoman.
If you’re a fan of older movies, check out Brighton Beach Memoirs. This prequel to Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound is not only is it my favorite movie, it reflects my thoughts about moving out of a home. There’s a line where the mom (who’s a Russian-Jewish immigrant) reflects on her family’s earlier escape from the pogroms in Russia:
“…Mama cleaned the place from top to bottom. She said, ‘No matter what the Cossacks did to us when they broke into her house, they would have respect for the Jews.'”
Now, I’m not fleeing from tall, black-hatted mercenaries; nor was I fleeing for my life, but I’ll be damned if the buyers of our home were going to think we were filthy. I cleaned that house like you wouldn’t believe. Vacuum lines and everything!
Sadly, what we were greeted with on the other end was not the same.
What we were faced with
Instead of a sparkling clean “luxury” townhome, we waltzed up to this:
Those were the steps leading up to our San Antonio “luxury” digs. Above us (not pictured) were 6 hornet’s nests. They’re not pictured because I was too scared to stay out there any longer. The leasing agent attempted to have us all go in through the garage, but the New Yorker in me said, “Yeah, no.” So- full of suspicion- I went in through the front door and saw all this mess. I truly think the filth in front of the townhouse alerted me to pay close attention to the place going forward.
I mean, not that it was difficult to find all that we did. But, it did make it less traumatic because I was expecting things to be jacked up from here on out.
Let me give you a tour!
Let’s start in the kitchen and dining room. I mean, we’ll be spending most of our time there- won’t we? I’d say it’s a tad-bit important, no?
Need a light and airy room? Well, you won’t be getting it here. Nor will you have the ability to raise the blinds without getting bonked on the head. Héctor found this out the hard way. But, that’s a quick-fix that maintenance can remedy, no?
Yes, they can. But they may not be able to quickly fix the window shielded by the blinds and it’s inability to open. That may pose a fire hazard, but don’t quote me on it.
Further outside, you would’ve noticed 5 more families of wasps in their natural habitats. According to the maintenance supervisor- whom we later returned with- this was, “normal for Texas.” Unfortunately, he had to retract his (inaccurate) statement when we told him we’d lived in Texas for a total of 10 years. No, it was not normal to have a total of 11 wasps nests around your home. Nice try, Homie.
…the rest of the kitchen and dining room can’t be that bad, though, Marta.
Oh, my sweet, innocent, trusting, naïve friend. I love you, but you are so very, very wrong. It can be- and is– that bad.
You see, the cleaning team at our new “luxury” apartment was kind enough to decorate our place with cobwebs. Copious amounts of cobwebs. What an honor!
And they left us their DNA in the form of long, stringy hair- neither of which describes my (or my family’s) hair. So kind.
What a great place to store my heavy, expensive pots and pans! I feel so secure with this bowing shelf.
And the pièce de résistance:
Yes, Friend! Hold up, let me help you take it all in…
…check out that “luxury craftsmanship”!
Let’s move on! There’s more San Antonio “luxury” where that came from
Check out the sturdiness of this cabinet door in the half-bath! I’d pat the top, but it may fall to crap.
Now, clearly, all of the vents in “luxurious” San Antonio townhomes look like this, because- in our house- they were all this way.
The biggest shock to my system?
Up to this point, nothing really shocked me. I mean, I’ve lived in plenty of sketchy apartments in my time. But, when I rounded the master bath’s corner and was face-to-face with this crap, I damn near lost it.
Like, at what point do you- as a leasing agent, maintenance worker, housekeeper, or apartment manager- look at this BLACK, moldy caulk and say, “Yep! Move them on in!” I mean, really?!?!
At this point, the leasing agent said, “Oh, we’ll just re-caulk it, let’s head to the office so you can sign the lease.” That was when I lost my ‘ish.
“The hell we will. You’re going to fix this, give us a new LUXURIOUS place by this time tomorrow, or there’s going to be a problem.”
So, what happened?
Well, we officially became homeless. That’s no exaggeration, either.
We already rented out the home we owned to the buyers, so going back wasn’t an option. Our stuff was being delivered the next day, so staying with friends wasn’t an option, either.
We literally had nowhere to go.
Thankfully, I had Hilton Honors points saved up and we were able to rent a hotel room for free. But, that also meant we had to leave all the household goods we could carry in our car and van parked in the hotel parking lot. No bueno in downtown San Antonio.
The Soldier rented a storage unit, which on the drive over, introduced us to a psychotic guy who was driving like he had a death-wish. When he rolled down his window and stuck his head out to yell obscenities at me and my daughter, I almost fulfilled that wish.
We dumped all of our belongings into this storage facility in God-knows-where San Antonio and made our way back to the hotel to decompress.
But, we still had nowhere to live.
Sure, we told the manager at the “luxury” place to fix up a townhome for us, but, in reality, that was a week’s worth of work- at the very least. There was no way that- with an asthmatic husband and daughter- I could live in a place that had visible mold everywhere. No way.
I went into military spouse mode
I wasn’t about to sit back and let life tell me what I was going to suffer through. As a military spouse for the past 20 years, I learned how to be resilient and resourceful and I had to draw on both of those skills at that moment. While the rest of my family slept, I scoured the internet for apartments and townhomes for rent.
In the morning, we hit up- what felt like- every leasing office in North San Antonio and was told, time after time, that there was no immediate availability. Those that were available, were in the same poor condition as the first one we saw.
We were referred to one last place and as the clouds parted and a chorus of angels sang out- we were able to lease a two bedroom apartment that was available that very afternoon. All of the paperwork was signed and we were approved (something that would’ve never happened 20 years ago, but that’s a whole other post). We rearranged the utilities and household goods to be delivered at our new place. And we exhaled. No longer were our children without a home. We were good-ish parents once again.
Our old home was 2974 sq ft, exactly. We furnished it with 2500 sq ft of stuff. You know? So we had room to grow.
We’re now in a 1159 sq ft two bedroom apartment. A-PART-ment. But, we’re not “apart”, so there’s that.
All four of us, from my “tiny” 5’9″ self, to my husband’s 6’4″ are living in this space. We’ve carved out sleeping space for the twins, but it’s close quarters. Rent is much less than it was at the other place- less than our mortgage, too; but so is the living space.
Then, this happened:
The following day, all of our worldly possessions were stuck on truck driven by a man who was a punk. What I mean by that is: he was too scared to drive the truck and the day laborers he hired were forced to shuttle our stuff to our apartment in their Ford F150. Then they still had to climb two flights of stairs to bring it in.
They worked. He hung out in his truck smoking and chatting up his girlfriend on the phone.
They were tipped very well. He was given a head nod.
This is my life, folks.
The bright side?
Is there one?
Yes, and I’m determined to find it, too.
We’re within walking distance of tons of shops and entertainment, and Héctor is only 6 miles from work. That’s pretty bright, right?
There’s also this, which is really awesome!
And you know your girl is already hunting down San Antonio food spots. La Panadería will be seeing us a lot. Tequila-almond croissants. Need I say more? I needn’t. I know.
So, what’s the plan for San Antonio?
Well, my goal is to keep bringing you unique recipes that- while they are restaurant-quality- are easy for you to follow and prepare.
I also want to start branching out to restaurant reviews- here and elsewhere. That’s still in the planning stages, but I will be documenting my culinary adventures in, and around, San Antonio.
And, we’re searching for the perfect lot to build our forever home on. Or course, I’ve been pinning like crazy, but I’m hoping to include a food photography and prop studio to open up to other local food bloggers. I’ll keep you posted on that, as well.
So, there you have it, my friend. The drama that was the past week of my life. I’m praying we go nowhere else but up while living here in San Antonio.
Please, keep us in your thoughts and prayers!