So I moved.
Marina del Rey was a great place to live in. I lived in a one-bedroom apartment that was right on the water, in a complex that boasted of perks and frills like no other. There was a gym 100 feet from my patio – oh, yes, I had a patio, and a gigantic one at that. A swimming pool with a jacuzzi and a steam room. Open pits outside in the courtyard for barbecue parties.In the summer, there was a $1 water-bus service from the harbor end of the building, and I have gone to get groceries from across the Marina on one, at times. The evenings that I would go out to run or walk around the marina, I would come back home with a shit-eating grin like you can’t imagine. And at night, if I left my patio door open, I would hear the sound of seals and the creaking of boats. And sometimes this neighbor having sex. Umm, really loud sex, and quite long too. My other next-door neighbors were an elderly, jovial English couple who would apologize every now and then about the House music they played, which I never really heard; a sweet old lady who would complain every now and then about the dreadful noise near the swimming pool; a young Jewish couple who invited me to my first Shabbat dinner and would occasionally come over for a drink or catch up when we passed by each other on the harbor. Everybody owned a dog or two; and a lady two doors down even walked dogs for a bunch of people in the building.
My first memory of Marina del Rey was pure relief, with a bit of financial trepidation. Relief because of adventures while house-hunting after my move to California. Case in point, I was visiting an apartment in – I don’t remember, Santa Monica, maybe – and the door was opened by an elderly gentleman wearing a leather jacket. And nothing else. Who then proceeded to show me around the place with a concerned arm on my shoulder, and also mentioned three times that he did not like dirty dishes in the sink, and anything else was acceptable. Before I left, he said he was off to a Playboy party that evening, and that if I moved in, I could join him if I so wished. I could feel Orpheus and Lot’s wife judging me as I walked away. Tough life. Another prospective co-tenant in Santa Monica had olfactory problems, according to her Craigslist ad. That was quite an understatement, because she ended up discussing which brands of laundry detergent and soap I should buy, and what time of the day I should shower, and which spices I am allowed to use – all to avoid triggering her strong sense of smell. I backed away as elegantly as I could.
But a different CL ad led me to share an apartment with ‘Drea the Awesome and her three cats. It was hard wrapping my head around the rent amount when I first heard it, but a glance at what I was getting for that money and I made my mind up. However, some time down the line, being a secondary room-mate got old soon, especially when my books came in from India, and I found out that a bedroom and a bit of the common area did not quite cut it. So I moved out to my own place. I found my slice of heaven two blocks away from Tahiti Way, where I lived earlier, and it took me all of thirty seconds to decide and not a whit of hesitation to say “yes, I do”, when the leasing agent asked me if I liked the apartment.
Three years of living in this apartment. In those three years, I managed to make a honest-to-goodness home out of it, edging it away from the ‘bachelor pad’ connotation that adheres to the single-guy lifestyle. It was the first place that I had set up entirely on my own, using a combination of Reddit interior design posts, aesthetic choices and thrift-store hopping. The results, I should say, were not overly impressive, but it was home. I organized dinner parties among my friends, and by 2015, these events had become happy, complicated affairs, where I could and did entertain 10-17 guests without breaking a sweat. In these three years, there has been two incidents that disturbed the Force – one being a call from security one night when we were having an office after-party at my place – where the guard was apologetic enough because he knew the person that had called to complain and said they did it all the time; the other time, a lady made passive-aggressive racist comments in the garage when friends were present; that was taken care of.
Why move, then? I guess a big part of it was the rent, which increased steadily over the years. It was possible indeed to take a deep breath every October, when the new lease agreement came in, and look around and feel hashtag blessed at the kind of lifestyle I was leading, and just grit my teeth and sign up for 12 more months. But it got to the point where I began wondering of how life would be a little outside this summery bubble. Because, yes, the Marina was a bubble that makes you feel like you are partying all year long, with beautiful people everywhere, on the way to the beach or walking around being all touristy near their water-facing hotel rooms. It was also apparent, especially when I headed back from a concert late in the night, from Hollywood or Downtown LA, that the Marina was out of the way from everything. LA is a big place, and I wanted to move somewhere closer to where the action was.
But the question was – would I find a place that lived up to my expectations?
I did, of course. Once my mind was made up, it took a week to narrow my options down, and one weekend to go around the areas with open houses, and suddenly there it was, the place I would soon call home. It passed the 30-second test (which is this – if within 30 seconds, I cannot think of a compelling reason why the house is not right, it will probably work out). It helped that my future landlady was a no-nonsense woman, all of 93, answering all my questions while seated in that chair in the center of the living room. I was the first to fill in an application, and two days later, it was done, and all that remained was the actual, physical act of moving.
So I moved, and it was all good.