Where Not To Move 1


A whole half a year ago, I decided to move.

Okay, okay. Let me back up a bit. We decided to move. For our health. My girlfriend and I were living in a pretty small basement apartment at the time, and it was making her sick. Literally.

For the most part, the place was great. It was close to my work, but after she switched jobs, it didn’t work so well for her. And while it was a straight shot to school for me, it was still a bit of a distance. I don’t need to repeat what I think of the price of gas.

As far as heating and air conditioning went, the A/C was a simple wall unit, but it held the cool pretty well. Walking outside was a burden in the middle of summer (but in Cleveland it was kind of the only time I actually wanted to go outside).

In winter, we didn’t have to pay an extra cent for heating. It was all run off a boiler which ran into the baseboard heating units. In fact, at times, if we didn’t crack a window we’d be down to our underwear when it was ten degrees outside.

The pricing was fair, the location was nice and quiet, next to a trail and a pond where we could walk the dogs, and a five minute walk from the nearest running path.

But considering the heating situation and the basement location, I think the place developed a mildew issue. We couldn’t actually see it, but my girlfriend would wake up sick and crying. When we worked together, it was a simple fix. I’d go and work for her. But when she changed jobs, it got a little more complicated (but at least she no longer had any 4AM shifts).

So she began to search for houses. She was 23 and had apparently decided that was the age when you get a house, no matter how cheap, so long as it’s a house.

You may already see the issue coming up.

Incidentally, I was 27 and had never had a house of my own. I rented a townhouse at one point, but that was rent-controlled and I didn’t have to mow the lawn.

So she searched for houses and sent me a bajillion links and I pretended to look at half of them. I went with her to some of them because she said I had a better eye for what we were looking for. I didn’t like this because it put the burden of curation on me. So if this place ended up sucking, it would be on me.

Well, the place we moved into… sucked.

In my defense, I would like to say a couple things. First, I knew this place was crappy and a lot of other words that I decided I would no longer use on this blog to make it more accessible. Second, she was miserable and I knew it. Third, while crappy, the place worked for its purpose.

Then we moved, and the cracks revealed themselves more clearly—literally, in some cases. First, the place is a one-story slab house. The guy who flipped it had his work cut out for him, because even with the tile he put down (which is pretty convincing imitation wood, I might say) there was little he could do about the fact that the outer edges of the floor lift upward.

If you’re having trouble picturing what I’m saying, my bookshelf has three poker chips under each of its front legs just to keep it level.

The knobs and faucet in the bathtub aren’t secured, so they move around freely, which means there’s water getting into the wall constantly.

Speaking of the tub, what idiot uses wall paint on a tub? We’ve been scraping it off for months as it’s come off on its own.

During the winter we noticed a very cold breeze from the front door. The rental company told us they’d replace the outer door, and when they finally did, the issue got worse, not better. They replaced our mostly solid metal and plexiglass door with a metal-wire lattice door with a deadbolt. That means that if we leave the inner door open when it’s raining, we’re getting soaked. It also means that if the inner door already has a draft, we might as well not even have an outer door.

This defeats the purpose of having a storm door, by the way. We ended up sealing the cracks ourselves.

But I haven’t talked about the neighborhood yet. Oh boy. Where are we on word count?

The first night we stayed at the house was the first red flag. Someone pulled into the neighbor’s driveway (at a house we later realized was being flipped and was vacant at the time) and started blasting music. My girlfriend’s father stayed the night that night, and I think we all just hoped that was a rare occurrence.

Well, it wasn’t.

Nor were the empty liquor bottles on our front lawn.

Then we began to notice a particular van that kept stopping in front of our house and staying there for hours. We have it on video. Six hours straight at one point. Someone would pull up to it, stay for a couple minutes, then drive off.

HMMMM… I wonder what was happening in there…

And no, the police have been useless. In fact, if you look up this area, the crime stats are incredibly low. I wonder why? Maybe because they never looked into our totally legitimate concerns?

Granted, Cleveland police are incredibly understaffed and over-worked, so I get it. But, still…

There’s more to this story. Some cars would stop three across (which fills the whole street) playing loud music and, somehow, talking. They constantly had to shift around for traffic coming through, and they also have to move out of the way when we back out of our driveway.

It goes on and on. I got offered “toothpaste” at one point. It might have been a dig on my hygiene—I think I worked early that day and didn’t bother to wash up—but I’m pretty sure it was slang for a certain illicit substance.

So now things have happened. My girlfriend has been given the opportunity to go to Colorado, and she’s taking it. We will be out of this house by the Friday after this post goes live. We’re temporarily moving in with my Dad (which is helping us downsize and throw away a lot of the crap we’ve accumulated) and I will be staying another year. I need to finish my English degree at the very least, because I can go anywhere for my teaching license. Besides, what’s the point staying in Cleveland for my teaching license when I’m going to move several states away? I might as well look for something out there, right?

I hope you enjoyed this random post. I wasn’t originally going to post this version, but with moving and work I’m a bit strapped for time at the moment. I’m not ignoring anyone, I’ve just been focused on moving. If you could see my RSS Feed, you would be able to tell how inattentive I’ve been by the fact that I haven’t even cleared the notifications from my own blog.


Photo by Brandon Jacoby on Unsplash


About David Shank

David T. Shank is a writer, runner, and musician, in that order. His blog is hopefully an oasis among the vast ocean of negativity that is the Internet. He lives in Cleveland studying how to write good.


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