The day our young landlady’s wild-haired and insane parents told me and my ex-boyfriend that we could not have our dog or any plants whatsoever on the half acre deck was the day we suspected we were doomed to leave our newly rented apartment in the tony Marina neighborhood. They were ‘concerned about the weight’ of my ficus and, apparently, window boxes. I lived resentfully with the barren expanse for three months before I left both the apartment and the boyfriend. When I drove by a year later, after the crazies had reclaimed the apartment for themselves, I saw that they had installed a large stone fountain on the deck. I’m sure it didn’t weigh nearly as much as my ficus.

Since then, things have been looking up. My next place was owned by the wonderful Jose and Bob. Bob is an all-American George Clooney type with a superhero profile and Jose is a gentle, smiling and boyish Asian. The two of them handed over their beautifully renovated Victorian flat to me and two friends and cheerfully made improvements at the slightest suggestion over the next three years. They didn’t even blanch when they saw the state of their pristine palace under the reign of my roommates.

The current living situation is even better. The studio is too small for two people but R and I stay for the deck and the landlady. The building is owned and managed by a woman who a.) knows how to build and fix things, and b.) does. Since R moved in and I joined him a year later, she’s put in a dishwasher, a new garden downstairs complete with goldfish, and built our deck, which is now a redwood expanse home to flourishing roses, lavender, iris, herbs and the happy ficus tree. Her boyfriend is an electrician, which is very handy. He blows leaves, washes our cars and has installed prison-grade floodlights that discourage the scary vagrants who used to sleep in the doorways.

Also, a big plus, she only rents to interesting people, like the photographer in the studio downstairs who specializes in pregnancy portraits. The other live-work space is rented to another photographer and his slim, Rollerderbying writer girlfriend. In the storefront, there’s a quiet and accommodating guy who repairs guitars and racing bicycles. The apartment across from us has seen more turnover. Amanda and her beautiful photographs used to live there in splendid organization. When she left – we were very sad – we got a recent divorcee who lasted three months before retreating back to the suburbs. Now, we have a hip and private technology girl who has a cool job at a travel site that takes her off to Belize and other places extraordinary.

It’s all very trendy and integrated into the community. Which is to say, I guess, Californian. Right?

Categories: San Francisco (here)


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One Comment on “Landlords”

  1. Maria Ludkin
    August 18, 2006 at 4:07 pm #

    Keep writing like that Missy, and we’ll all start thinking you are starting to like it out there.

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