Eternal Sunshine of the Housing Boom

Tonight I went over to Nate and Maria’s and watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It came out in 2004, but with my track record of seeing about 1.6 movies per year in theaters, it shouldn’t really surprise anyone that I’m just now getting around to it. It’s a romantic comedy starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, and some other less famous people. Basically Carrey and Winslet’s characters, Joel and Clementine, fall in love, then out of love, and then they both decide to have the memories of each other erased. 95% of the movie happens during the erasing of Joel’s mind, when he discovers things really weren’t so bad, and he tries desperately to awake during the procedure and stop it before all his memories are gone. I can’t say a whole lot more than that without giving away the twists in the plot, because I want those of you who haven’t seen it to see it. (Be warned it’s rated R because some writer lacked enough vocabulary to avoid multiple F-words.)

I can tell you that I enjoyed two particular things about this movie. For one, it was weird but not in a bad way. It’s one of those flicks that leaves you in a weird mood when you’re done; you can’t help but just sit there and think about it for a few minutes. Even now I’m still considering all the depth and meaning that was in it, or at least trying to decide if there really was depth and meaning in it. To me, a movie that evokes such strong emotion is pure art. You can criticize and dislike it all you want, but the most brilliant cinematography in the world, if devoid of that emotion, is just another movie. Why do we like poetry, painting, and music? Because it evokes emotions. It brings up something unexpected. There is some intangible which smacks us in the heart, and helps us discover a little bit of humanity which we’ve lost in the hustle and hurry of modern life. There is no doubt in my mind God gave us art for these reasons, and I’m thankful for it. (That is not to say that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is divinely inspired. I’m just saying I liked it.)

Second, I enjoyed the movie because, for once in my life, I figured out the ending of the movie really early on and got to watch almost the whole thing with that knowledge. I’m always jealous of people, and I think it’s mostly women, who get ten minutes into something and already know what the ending is going to be. Props here to my mother, who is most definitely one of those people. But tonight, I had that “OH!” moment early on, and enjoyed every second of the remaining 90 minutes as I watched with delight. And it’s a good twist, I liked it.

In the completely unrelated happening of the week, the futility of my housing search seems to have no end. Today I looked at what originally was a very promising prospect. A basement room in a townhouse, with private bathroom, for $590/month including all utilities. It even had a personal washer/dryer in the closet, and was only about 15 minutes from the church. It sounded like it could be a winner–until I got there. I was met by a pile of building materials in the foyer, and an improvised bedroom to my immediate left. Ahead was the room in question: about 10′ x 10′, and laid out in a way that no furniture would ever comfortably fit in it. I would have about enough room for my bed and one of my bedroom dressers, but not both. My existence in that room would be cramped, and helplessly messy all the time because I’d have all my crap there with no room to put it. A peak through the outside window revealed 12″ tall grass with junk strewn throughout the tiny yard. I thought I was trying to move OUT of West Virginia.
Upstairs fared little better, as I was greeted by primer-painted walls and filthy carpeting. The living floor, which has kitchen and living room, screamed bachelor pad with every ounce of its existence. The most visible features of the whole floor was the huge car stereo in the living room, and the washer/dryer crammed into the kitchen. I ventured upstairs only briefly, before I had seen quite enough to make my decision. On the way out, I noticed the amount of beer bottles in the trash, and was pretty convinced I’d decided correctly. This room may be listed on the church message board, but I have the strange feeling that none of the other tenants actually found it through that avenue.

Earlier I had traded a couple emails with a guy who was in a similar situation, needing an affordable room and wanting to live with Christian housemates. I thought at first there was potential that connection might amount to something, but as quickly as it came, he vanished into internet oblivion. I came to find out he had found what he was looking for. Good for him.

So now I move on again. My latest search of the church message board has produced two new possibilities, and both of them sound somewhat promising as well. One is for a basement apartment being advertised as a huge amount of space. Bedroom, full bath, kitchenette, private entrance, and lots of storage space. It’s near George Mason U, and would be probably 20 minutes from the church. Lots of space probably equals lots of money, but I’ll nonetheless check it out. The second listing interests me. It’s a large townhouse being shared by 5 Christian guys who are looking for a 6th. A decent sized bedroom, but a shared bathroom. The guy made it clear they were looking for a good Christian to fill the room, but also want someone easygoing who knows how to have fun. It’s $595 plus 1/6 utilities, but it’s also in Arlington which means close access to the city and driving against rush hour traffic. They’re having an open house of sorts Saturday, so I’ll be checking it out before work in the afternoon. It definitely sounds interesting.

Some of you may be wondering how I can talk about renting a bedroom for $600/month and thinking it’s a good deal, but trust me, it is. Remember the words “housing boom” in the title? In the last ten years or so, housing has appreciated to double its value. Many of the people who have lived here for 15 years or longer are living in a $300,000 house that they paid $150,000 for. Single bedroom apartments generally start in the $750/month area and go up from there. In a perfect world, I’d be trying desperately to find a house I can afford to start buying. But in the world that is Metro DC, it’s just no possible. Maybe in 8 or 9 months, if I have some friends willing to do it, I’ll buy a place and become a landlord myself.

It’s a crazy life here. I’m not honestly sure I’m entirely up for it. Suddenly the slow, small city, Indiana feel isn’t as bad as it was 6 months ago. But I am determined not to dwell on the past, so I’ll move on. I’ll learn to enjoy living in the city, averaging 12 mph in traffic, and being forced to share a house when I’d rather be buying one. Things are going very well at my job, I’m learning a lot, and I know I’m in the right place.

And I think knowing that makes up for everything else.