Every morning, I drag myself reluctantly out of bed to walk the dog. My hair looks like a brillo pad. My eyeballs don't quite connect with their sockets. My legs are way stiff from going to the gym, or not going to the gym. Coffee sounds good but it's almost too much of an effort. And then, I look up and take in the view, and suddenly, I'm awake. It's the best damn view in Berkeley, if not the entire Bay Area. The view that beckoned, in fuzzy black and white, from a Craig's list printout I've had since before the move from D.C. Live and in person, in living color, it's a bigger buzz than a triple expresso.
The view is panoramic and unobstructed, elegantly framed on either side by massive cypress trees. The Golden Gate bridge is dead center. On a clear day, it gleams orange. To the right of the bridge are the mountains that overlook Sausalito and Mill Valley. The tallest one is Mount Tamalpais, which, according to the Native Americans, resembles a reclining woman. Immediately to the left of the Golden Gate Bridge is the San Francisco skyline with its signature monstrosity, the Transamerica building. Along the shoreline, you may see a massive cruiseship. Further left, beyond South Francisco, a steady stream of planes converges on the airport. Spot the Bay Bridge and follow it over to the port of Oakland, where giant cranes unload countless crates of cargo that Homeland Security can't be bothered to inspect. Glance back across the water, and suddenly there's fog spilling over the Golden Gate like steam on a witch's brew.
In just three short weeks, my husband and I have become completely addicted to the view. We check in on it regularly, like a baby. We watch it change day to day, like a child. We find its presence restorative and inspirational, like a wise old friend. And we scheme and fantasize about purchasing and renovating the rental house it belongs to. This is unfortunate because the house is a dump. It has termites, lousy insulation and a master bath that hasn't been updated since 1960. The cabinets smell of rotting wood and not a single window has a screen. The garage door fell off and got miraculously stuck just two inches above our car. The house needs rewiring, remodeling, and all new floors, windows and doors. When we moved in, the heat didn't work, so the landlord replaced the furnace with the cheapest, loudest model he could find. It roars us awake in the middle of the night, and the heat dissipates almost immediately.
Did I mention the cosmetic aspect? The house is Japanese. According to our landlord, the original owner had it copied from a house in Kyoto. Most of the living room floor is a giant built-in tatami mat which we have covered with a drop cloth so our yorkie won't destroy it. In keeping with Asian tradition, the living room features a floor-to-ceiling carved pole to provide an escape route for evil spirits. Half the rooms in the house are covered with hideous, yellowed wood panelling on which no art can be hung. Where there's no wood paneling, there's dingy, dirty grass cloth. Everything about the house screams money pit.
And then there's that million dollar view.