The day after my last post, the estate agent I had been stalking throughout the weekend left me the saddest voice mail ever: the owners had decided to go with another tenant. I tried to cheer myself with the news that we'd gotten the lovely four-bedroom house we'd applied for, and for at least a year, space wouldn't be an issue. Each cat could have their own bedroom if we liked.
Now, given our luck with real estate, wouldn't you guess that the real estate agent from the first place called saying the owner had "re-considered our application" just as soon as we'd paid the first month's rent on the house online? However, we hadn't yet signed a lease, so I figured it would really just be bad manners to back out, and I was willing to be the Ugly American. The estate agent for the house was really cruisy about the whole thing and agreed to transfer the first month's rent back into our account.
Until, as you may have guessed, we hit a speed bump. We were the only people at the showing for the house, and I don't know how long it had been on the market, but the owners decided to interpret email exchanges and the deposit of the first month's tent as a legally binding sign of intent. Why then, I asked the estate agent, were we suppposed to come into sign a lease in a few days, if email exchanges were considered legally binding?
Anyway, a day of intense stress followed, with me afraid of losing my dream apartment and being forced to live in this house against my will. All's well that ends well, though, and we settled with the owner of the house by letting them keep one week's rent to make up for the time lost between the showing we attended and the one they could schedule for the following Saturday. It was a crazy 36 hours.
Eric flew to Sydney for the weekend, and in the 109 degree heat (remember, no one here has AC!) we boxed up our entire apartment. After staying out til 3am Saturday evening/Sunday morning, we loaded the Turquey, the camper van, with our most valuable items (cats for me, TV for Eric) in a very hungover state on Sunday. On Monday, the temperature had dropped to about 90 and we set out on the 11-hour dive through the hills of New South Wales and Victoria.
Now, Turquey isn't a spry young van - she's more of a vintage model - and she had one scary hiccup going up a long hill. She jerked a couple of times, and then Eric was slowed to about 15 mph despite having the gas pedal on the floor. We rode in the shoulder for a bit, afraid to stop since she might never go again. In a few minutes, she pepped up and was willing to give it another go. Needless to say, every time she shuddered for the rest of the afternoon, we held our breath. On a positive note, these injections of adrenalin, along with signs constantly warning me to be on the lookout for koalas (I was!), kept us from falling asleep!
On a tangential note, on a break from packing on Saturday, Eric and I went out for a quick swim to bring our blood below the boiling point. We both looked at this bird bobbing about 10 feet away and turned to each other at the same time to ask, "Is that a freaking penguin?" I am not sh*tting you, we swam with a penguin. Not a March-of-the-Penguins-syle Emperor penguin, but the little fairy ones we have all around the southern part of Australia. There's a penguin reserve about a half mile from our new house in Melbourne. Just a reminder that our nearest neighbour to the south is Antarctica!
When we arrived in Melbourne, I was delighted to find that our apartment was every bit as wonderful, better even, than I remembered from the viewing. I feel kind of like a guest at a really nice b&b. Eric and I are upgrading some of our furniture to be worthy of the place. It's one quarter of an old house on a lovely tree-lined street a block from the St Kilda Botanic Gardens. While it has all of the charm of an old place (stained glass in several rooms, fireplaces, carved ceilings), it's been completely modernised. I have a dishwasher for the first time in years!
Similar to my last visit, it was tough to come home today. My life is now divided between Sydney and Melbourne. I arrived back in Cronulla tonight just minutes before the Australia Day fireworks were shot off from the beach right in front of my house. From my third floor balcony, I had the perfect view with a glass of wine. But I'm alone here now, and I don't even have furry little faces to greet me. I'm homesick for a place I haven't left yet, but I'm anxious just to GET ON WITH IT. Time to move to Melbourne.