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Some Notes on Fate

July 11, 2010

I know it’s Sunday but this isn’t a parody post. Is an apology required? No, let’s skip that.

Long long ago, on a warm September evening at Gas Works Park in Seattle, one of the characters from my nonfiction manuscript made fun of me for being a fatalist. I vehemently denied the charges, to no avail. In hindsight, he was right. I have been a fatalist since 1998 when I took my first Greek mythology course. And by the way, I don’t care how illogical it is.

For a while I’ve been looking for an apartment, preferably a bachelor (in my case, spinster) suite, but I warned myself that I might have to settle for a one-bedroom, even though it would cost more. A few weeks ago I went scouting the apartments in the West End with a friend. Lots of vacancies, great area. I took down a bunch of numbers but instead of calling any of them I thought things over and decided to get a place for August 1 instead of July 1, since I was busy with a bunch of writing projects and would be away for a week in July.

This past Thursday, after literary contest entry season came to an end, I decided to really get on top of the apartment hunt. Went back to the West End, took down numbers and this time called them. No answer, no answer, no pets, no pets, no answer, no pets, no pets. Then, finally, a landlord who allowed cats answered his phone and offered to show me the vacant suite. I pretty much ran back to the building. The guy seemed very nice and so did the apartment: clean, a good size, up on the 7th floor in a quiet building. It was a one-bedroom, and the rent was more than I wanted to pay, but other than that, it should have been perfect. I asked for an application form. Told the landlord I’d fax it to him the next day. Caught a bus home. During the bus ride I decided not to apply for the place. Couldn’t explain to myself why. There were some rational reasons, but what really decided it was just a feeling that that wasn’t where I was supposed to end up.

That night I came across an ad on Craigslist for a basement suite in East Vancouver with much more reasonable rent. Arranged a Sunday viewing with the homeowners.

Yesterday, Saturday, I walked around Kitsilano to see if there were any vacancies there. Found a sign advertising a one-bedroom, called the landlord and set up an appointment to see it later in the afternoon. The guy was an hour late for the appointment, but he got there eventually. The apartment was fine–nothing wrong with it. Same price as the one I’d turned down. I wasn’t entirely comfortable there but I decided I had to quit being so sensitive, accept the fact that rent is high in Vancouver, and pick somewhere to live before the university kids start sharking up the waters in August. Told the guy I thought I’d take it. He told me that there was no credit or reference check but that they did require the deposit in cash. That weirded me right out, but I convinced myself that maybe it was a good system for him considering how many students with no money or credit rent in that area. We started walking over to the building where his office was, and I told him I’d just pop into the bank and meet him down there.

About three steps later I realized there was no way in hell I was going to be able to withdraw that kind of money from a machine. But I’d sort of semi-committed to taking the place, and I knew it would be gone by the end of the day, so I thought I had to at least try. I was able to get a surprisingly high amount of cash, then tried again for a bunch more. Denied. Tried for a smaller amount. The transaction cancelled itself and my card exited the machine. Then I tried to get a cash advance with my Visa, which was also spat out quicker than a bite of one of my paternal grandmother’s funeral-meat sandwiches. My whole account had apparently been shut down by the fraud squad. Awesome. So with about half of the cash in hand, I headed toward the guy’s office, thinking maybe I could convince him to take half then and the rest on Monday when banks were open. On the way, I started feeling strangely anxious about the whole situation. There were many reasons for my discomfort, not the least of which was the ridiculous wad of cash in my purse. Everything felt more and more wrong the closer I got to his office. But I got there and buzzed him. He said he’d come down. I waited a minute or so, then just suddenly left. Like, just turned around and walked away. Felt overwhelmingly like I had to get out of that neighbourhood, away from that situation. Took a bus home, ignored a call from the probably very confused landlord, flailed around for a while in the anxiety tide that had hit me as I waited for the guy to come downstairs…

After I calmed down I found a promising-seeming place on Craigslist. Cheaper than the last two, on West Broadway, a pretty cool street. Made an appointment this morning to see it later in the day. After talking to the landlord I went to the place just to get a look at the building and see how it felt. I walked past and felt total indifference. Knew I wasn’t going to be living there. Knew it. Took a bus downtown, thinking I could grab some lunch and then go check out the West End again for an hour or so before catching the bus to see the basement suite–which I was now also hesitant about, having Googled the address and seen how far it was from all the places I need to get to during the week.

Was walking up Seymour Street and instead of turning at Davie, which was the plan, turned at Nelson for no logical reason and about a block later found myself standing in front of two cute buildings, both of which were advertising bachelor suites. I wrote down the numbers, then thought, Hell, just call them now, you’re here anyway… The first didn’t allow cats, but the second did. The price was amazing (for Vancouver…), and the landlord just happened to be in the area right then so he offered to show it to me. I waited outside trying not to get too excited or acknowledge to myself how comfortable I felt about the building and the neighbourhood. The landlord showed up twenty minutes later and took me up to the suite. Instantly I felt right at home. There was nothing special about the place–paint-wise, layout-wise, view-wise, hardwood-floor-wise, it was pretty average, like the others I’d seen–but it felt totally right. The apartment and I enjoyed an instant connection. (It’s the same with relationships. When you get down to it, we’re all about equally regular-looking, with a few trolls and Brangelinas occupying the extreme ends of the spectrum, and we all walk past hundreds of people a day without feeling a thing for any of them, but then once in a while we run into someone we find irresistibly beautiful or compelling or both right off the bat, and that person whose company we would die for three more minutes of has been walked past by bazillions of people who never even registered his/her existence, and what’s that about? Right?)

I applied for the suite right away. Dude was fine with my being a student, told me he was just going to run a credit check and would let me know tomorrow. One does not count one’s chickens before they’ve hatched, but I have to say it looks pretty g.d. promising. And anyway, that saying isn’t as negative as it appears. The reason you don’t pre-count them is because there might be more of them than you think, not fewer… Maybe the landlord forgot to mention that there’s a storage room where I can put my bike, or that laundry is only fifty cents a load. Maybe my future spouse lives on the third floor.

I’m sorry, rational boys and girls, but if I get this apartment, I will have no choice but to chalk the whole situation up to fate, or the Hand of Zeus, whatever the eff you want to call it.

Because look. I was going to take the very first place, the West End place. Filled out the application form and everything, so why didn’t I send it? And if I’d viewed the Kits place on a weekday, or for that matter even an hour earlier yesterday, I would have been able to get the cash in person from a teller, and my account wouldn’t have frozen, and I’d have put down the deposit ten minutes later. And if I hadn’t found the ad for the place on the east side, or the ad for the place on Broadway, I wouldn’t have ended up downtown killing time this afternoon at all, let alone at the exact time that the landlord was available to show me the place.

It’s a 15-minute walk from there to school, 25 minutes to where I volunteer, 20 minutes to the beach…

If for whatever crazy reason I don’t get the apartment tomorrow, it will be proof that Zeus exists AND is a heartless manipulative asshole.

Fingers collectively crossed, please. I’m going to assign this post to the “Happy Endings” category, ’cause I’m just that ballsy…

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