Four years ago we walked into a house and put down a $100 deposit towards the first month of rent. We'd been married for a little over a year and were living in a house that didn't have heating all winter. Moving isn't fun, but Washington DC winters are cold. Even colder when you don't have heat.
The house was in a nice location, but was far from perfect itself. DC row homes are not renowned for their width and this one was especially stingy. Our 50-inch TV would feel like a two-story movie theater screen.
Then 538 came open.
We were settled. Packing. Getting ready to move. But rentals move so quickly that it's never a bad idea to keep looking. You never know what you'll find.
538 was clearly a scam. A three-story, four bedroom, 2.5 bath, DC row home with parking? For that price?? It may as well have been in the missed connections page on Craigslist. There was no way this was legit. But we scheduled a viewing and to our surprise, it was accepted for the next day.
If 538 was a delusion, then it was at least a widely-held delusion. Folie à deux. There were seven other couples looking at 538. On the first day. In the first hour it was open. At least we had the backup house. But laying on the southern charm as thick as I could we worked our way to the top. 538 was ours. I knew we'd be here for a long time.
The running joke in DC is when you buy a house, you're told that George Washington slept there. But when you rent from a Taiwanese association, then of course the selling point is that it's the president of Taiwan that slept there. I'm not sure why the president of Taiwan wouldn't just get a nice hotel, but unlike all those people claiming George Washington slept in their houses, there's a least pictures of the president of Taiwan sitting in my living room.
Today is the day before we close on 411. 411 is a block up and a block over from 538. 411 is closer to the park. It has a garage with the proper wiring to install a charger for our electric car. 411 will likely be the home I live in for all the next chapters of my life. But 538 is where I came back to when my kid was born. 538 is the first house I lived in in DC that had a working heater. 538 was the first house that I truly felt like was truly mine.
Over the next week I'm going to have to remove our Nest thermostats and reinstall the dated-in-2015 Honeywells. Swap the Phillips Hue bulbs for the dumb bulbs that I've been keeping in the closet for this day. I'm going to disassemble what made 538 ours and reassemble it at 411. It's dumb, but that makes me happy. It makes me feel like all these little pieces of 538 are coming with us.
Two weeks after we moved into 538, the landlord of the original house we looked at cashed that $100 deposit. But it was fine. We had 538. 538 may not have been our first house together, but it was our first home