Today is the third installment of our four-part miniseries covering our recent moving experience (so recent, in fact, it's still going on.)
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After a week of resting up and taking in the scenery at Sarah & Anthony's, we were ready to start exploring our new hometown. We packed up the wagon, loaded the cat, dog and baby, and sadly said goodbye to our hosts. "It's only two weeks til the wedding! We'll see each other soon," we said. Then we were off to Kingston.
The drive up was beautiful, if a little foggy and hard to see any distance. Still, the Catskills were impressive and we excitedly pointed out landmarks on the Thruway that we'd be able to use on trips back and forth to New Jersey. "We'll get Starbucks, and then stop at Cinnabon!"
The directions were pretty simple once we were off the Thruway: just drive straight through town and take a right. The neighborhood was simply gorgeous, all beautiful old mansions that were kept up nicely. We were both impressed.
We had seen pictures of both the neighborhood (the rental's best selling-point) and the house before, but seeing both in person really drove home the contrast between the house and its neighborhood. The house was in very bad shape, but even brand-new wouldn't have fit in. It might have made an ok summer cabin, but didn't look like it would survive a winter. But still, we weren't looking to buy: just a place to rent while we got on our feet and figured out where we wanted to buy. The landlord (actually someone subleasing the remainder of her lease) was waiting for us out front.
We parked, got the baby out of the car and all shook hands, then began our walkthrough. It started off at a limp ("The garage door opener doesn't actually work, but we don't have a key to that door anyway - we just leave it locked and park outside") and soon became a fairly eye-popping list of broken appliances ("The washer doesn't actually spin, so I just run a load and wring the clothes out by hand. There's also a great laundrymat nearby that we love, we'd keep using them even if we had a working washing machine") and dismal revelations about the house: exposed wiring, peeling possibly lead-based paint, water damage, mold, sunlight streaming through the window frames, no weather-stripping around the all-wood exterior doors, Saran-Wrap duct-taped over the windows, dry rot on all the window frames - and that's just the hazardous stuff. In addition, there were lots of other minor eccentricities and annoyances.
About ten minutes into the walkthrough our realtor arrived and joined in on the tour. It was her first visit to the house as well, and after we had descended into the "finished" basement with its pegboard "drop-ceiling" I caught her eye. She looked as shocked as I felt. I was barely able to keep Sophie away from the paint peeling off of every windowsill during the walkthrough. In its current state it was obviously something we couldn't spend a night in, much less a winter with soaring oil prices.
After we wrapped up the tour, our realtor asked for a few minutes alone with us. She gave us a brochure disclosing the possibility of lead-based paint on the premises, and apologized for the state of the house. It definitely didn't live up to the description the landlord had given her, or us.
After the landlord had left, we asked our realtor what alternatives we had. We both agreed we couldn't stay there and had made a mistake in trusting the landlord, but we had already signed a sublease and handed over first and last month's rent plus a security deposit. More immediately, we needed a place to spend the night.
The realtor gave us directions to a Holiday Inn back by the Thruway entrance. We called and found out that they were pet-friendly; we would just need to pay a little extra. A short while later we were unpacked and settled into the room. We didn't have litter for Eliot, so we shredded the Daily Freeman and put his box in the bathroom. We set up the Pack'N'Play, moved the coffee table into a corner and moved the office chair out into the hall.
Even after the rearranging we were still all on top of each other. The animals kept moving to opposite corners as Sophie explored the room. Eula of course barked every time she heard anyone outside in the hallway. To avoid getting complaints we would move her out into the car whenever we had to leave the room. We ate dinner at the hotel restaurant, and then spent a sleepless night trying to keep Eula from waking up the baby every time someone slammed a door in the hall.
The next morning we ate breakfast at the hotel again, then went to Target to try and find litter for Eliot. Sadly, after all the negative experiences it was a relief just to be in such a familiar environment. We both stumbled around in a daze for a while, then drove off to meet the realtor and look at other rental possibilities. We took turns reviewing the notebook while the other entertained Sophie. We were both exhausted, and it was 2pm: neither of us had showered or eaten lunch yet. We decided to cut the meeting short without driving to see any houses.
We ate lunch at a nearby pizzeria, then called Anthony and drove to meet him in Newburgh. It was a relief to see him again! We decided to take them up on their offer to return to their house in New Jersey while we sorted things out with the rental. Brandie, Sophie & Eliot would ride back with him, while Eula & I drove back to the hotel to clean up and check out. Even though we left after 6pm, the hotel clerk took pity on us and didn't charge us for the second night's stay.