I have lived in a lot of different houses throughout my life: one stories, two stories, bi-levels. Ones with two bedrooms, some with four. One or two bathrooms, sometimes a basement sometimes not. Even a trailer and apartment a time or two.
Maybe that is why when I graduated from college, I wanted to get my own place. And I wanted it to be a place I planned to stay in for a while anyway. A place I could finally call home.
I majored in art history at NYU with a focus area in photography. I wanted a place to relax after spending ten hours hunched over photographic paper and chemical baths. Digital is for people with no sense of history or technique. Film may be a lot like gambling, but you see the moment the paper changes in the chemical bath and it takes your breath away.
Since I am twenty-three, I wanted to live in or close to San Diego to have a slice of city life. I also wouldn’t mind living close to the beach even though I knew the houses out there would be pricey. Even though I love New York, I had moved out to California for the sunny weather and the ocean.
My dream house would be something with an open floor plan. I would like to have at least two or three bedrooms. One of which I could use as a darkroom. Right now I was developing my film in the bathroom. I would like to have more than one bathroom, but it was not the most important thing. I would also like to have a nice view worthy of my camera lens and being a photographer natural light was also important.
My real estate agent started out by showing me some very bad places that were cheap. Being my first place, I really wasn’t looking for a fixer upper. Then she took me to a little community in San Diego. The house had three bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and even a screened in, cement patio pool. That added a nice little outdoor living space for entertaining. There was a full bath with a separate shower and oversized whirlpool tub. All of it was tasteful and perfectly arranged. It looked so cute. However, this was only a model. The real estate agent said they could build one just like it on another lot.
The next place was a penthouse apartment right in the middle of downtown. The condo complex wasn’t more than three or four years old and designed in a country French style. The foyer was small, tiled with country peach shaded squares and whimsical accent tiles. The living room was octagonal, giving it complexity with lots of windows and a gas fireplace. The living room flowed into the kitchen. It had tiled floors and granite countertops with a backsplash of black and white glass squares. The white cabinets were a little bit outdated. The view from the sliding glass door showed the courtyard and pool that belonged to the complex. There were two bedrooms. It had one and half baths. It would be an exceptional place to live.
Even though I knew a beachfront house would be high in price, I wanted to look at one anyway. For kicks if nothing else. The front of the beach house was all glass and jutted forward like the prow of an ancient ship. The cabin, which was stone and wood on the outside, was warm and cozy with overstuffed furniture that was a mixture of pine and other woods. A stone fireplace that went from floor to ceiling separated the living room and kitchen. In the one bedroom, crisp white curtains hung at the windows letting in some natural light. Yellow plank, pine walls glowed beneath a wrought iron chandelier. A second fireplace was in the corner.
I had a lot to think about. I really liked the first house because of the three bedrooms. It also had some extra items like the pool. That would just be an added bonus. It was considered to be in San Diego with out having to be right smack dab in the middle of it. But it was just a model and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to wait that long.
The penthouse apartment was higher in price and only had two bedrooms. Everyone in the complex shared the outdoor living space. Being right in the middle of downtown there was an issue with the traffic and noise.
And finally the beach house was nice, but it felt more like a place that could be used for a vacation home or weekend getaway. The furniture wasn’t exactly my taste and the living area was separate from the kitchen. I couldn’t socialize with guests and cook at the same time. Being so close to the beach, I wouldn’t have any privacy especially during the summer. So which one did I pick?
The model house. It was everything I wanted and more. Even though I wasn’t near the beach, I did have my own private pool/ outdoor living area. It only had one bathroom, but I was willing to trade it in for the extra space.
The house was finished in April. Three months later, I was sitting in lounge chair by the pool, sipping a frozen strawberry daiquiri and going through my portfolio. I had taken a couple snapshots of the scenery. I have always been partial to black and white film, but the colors were so vivid out here it would be a crime not to capture them. The trees were painted in bold tones of gold, red and orange. They swept over a hard blue sky and flamed under the strong slant of sunlight. The fields held onto deep green of high summer.