Saying goodbye: Breaking up the Norton Gang

The only photo of the entire Norton Gang. (L-R: Coco, Megan, Aaron, Ari, Amy, and Tristan. Bottom row: Chips and Maybelle.)

Since my last blog was about the possibility of moving, I thought I’d talk about a couple that actually made it out of the Norton building and moved on to bigger and better things. My best friend since I was two-years-old, Amy, and her husband Ari took off last week to move to THEIR NEW HOME in South Carolina! Yup, those two crazy kids bought themselves a home. If anything makes you hate Los Angeles real estate, it’s seeing what your friends and family can buy in any other state for a home price that DOESN’T EVEN EXIST here.

Anywhoo. The thing is, Amy and I have never lived more than an hour (or two in traffic) away from each other in our lives. Now she’s on the other side of the country. My heart is broken. Every day I have to walk by the empty apartment that used to be mine and then theirs, and I feel like crying. The painters came the other day to re-paint it and now it doesn’t even smell like them anymore. I feel sad and lonely and… well… jealous.

Family dog pile: Ari, Amy, Maybelle, and Chips.

Family dog pile: Ari, Amy, Maybelle, and Chips.

I have dreams of grabbing my husband and our pets, packing up all our shit and driving off together into the future (and out of LA), just as Amy and Ari did. But that doesn’t keep me from being happy for them! I do miss my childhood-to-adulthood friend and her awesome husband. But, as my friend Lisa put it, “You know they are just making the country a smaller place by going.” And that made both Amy and me feel a bit better about the preveiously-unexperienced miles between us.

And now here are some photos just make this blog post a little more sappy and sad… Read More

Attempting to escape our gilded cage

Our family (minus the cat) as drawn by Aaron.

Our family (minus the cat) as drawn by Aaron.

We have an amazing apartment. ANYONE would feel lucky to live in a rent-controlled, large two bedroom, two bathroom, upper unit with a balcony, and some pretty sweet views. And we do! The problem is… my parents own the building. So as much as this feels like “our place” it still feels like I’m living at my parents house. And they’re giving us a sweet deal on rent — seriously, they could be getting SO MUCH MORE for this space — so not only does it feels like we’re living at their house, but also on their dime.

When I moved into the building 10 years ago, I thought “this is temporary.” I refused to become one of the “lifers” that live in this building until they die in this building — held hostage in their gilded cage of rent control in a lovely neighborhood. But, despite my best intentions, that’s exactly where Aaron and I have ended up. We know that there’s NO WAY IN HELL that we’ll ever have a place as nice as this. If we could pick up this exact apartment and plop it down on a piece of our very own property, it would be our dream home.

Since it’s such an amazing space and a great deal, I thought that we would have no problem holding out for a a few more years until I saved up enough money for a down payment. But as the years go by, I become more and more restless and eager to move on to something that’s very much all ours and more enjoyable for our pets, while I watch the savings sloooowly increase to numbers that aren’t anywhere to close to what we’d need for our own place.

So, we’ve made the tough call to give up our home ownership dreams (at least for the near future) and pursue the dream of home rentalship. I dove in with high hopes — surely I could find a detached home with a yard and a garage with at least one bedroom that accepts all pets regardless of size and breed. See, I was giving up an entire room and bathroom, CLEARLY I’d find something for, oh let’s say DOUBLE our rent now, at the worst.

My dreams were instantly dashed. I discovered THAT dream costs $2000-$3000 a month. Our budget is more $1600 at the absolute tip-top give-up-everything-you-love-MOST. It’s now clear that we’ll be looking at smaller apartments that MIGHT have a private patio, if we’re lucky, but we’ll have to hope they don’t recognize that Jackson is part pitbull.

So therein lies the dilemma. We know we need to break out of our gilded cage or risk becoming mooching lifers, as our dogs age and eventually have to be carried up and down both sets of stairs. But to leave means downgrading on size, location, and amenities all while paying more to a complete stranger to do so.

What say you internets: Do you think we’re crazy to think about leaving? Do you think we’re crazy to stay in our parents’ building? Do you… happen to have a home to rent to a nice, animal-loving couple?