Thursday, November 8, 2012

Radios Playing to the Air, the Stillness, the Kitchen Counter, the Coffee Table, the Patio Door

What does an employee in the front office of an apartment complex do when they arrive in the morning? Maybe they get coffee, shuffle a few papers on their desk to see what has to be done first and what can be pushed to later, call maintenance to find out if there were any repairs done during the night, if there is 24-hour maintenance.

I wonder about that only as I remember what I saw yesterday on a family tour of two apartment complexes in Henderson. Mom wanted to move only once, from Santa Clarita to Las Vegas, but our mobile home park is inconvenient in many, seemingly unsolvable ways. For one, there are a few stairs leading to the front door, and to the back door. Mom doesn't use the front door often, but we all use the back door because the PT Cruiser is right there in the carport. Being disabled, she has to walk down those steps to the car, and if we've been out for hours, into the evening, and she's tired from all of it, she still has to climb the stairs to get into the house.

Maintenance doesn't come as often as it used to when we first moved here, and we were told that whatever we request has to be on the work order. If it's not on the work order, they don't take care of it. And to get it on the work order, we have to wait, and wait, and wait. The screen attached to Mom's window in her and Dad's bedroom fell off the other day, and I just put it in the shed. We're not ready yet to request that it be re-attached because how long will we have to wait? A week? Two weeks? There are also other things in our house that have to be repaired, that fortunately aren't hindering our daily life, so we'll request attention on those, and hope that they end up on the work order.

I kind of like the area that we're in. It is a little barren, as would be expected in the desert, but it's not a far walk to the convenience store at the Rebel gas station on the left corner, nor the McDonald's and Terrible's gas station together on the right corner, after you make a right at the end of our block and walk down that long sidewalk to get there. It takes 40 minutes by foot to get to Sam's Town, and I like having a neighborhood casino, though I'm ticked at it at the moment because neither Flight nor Skyfall is playing at the Cinemark Century 18 movie theater there. Skyfall is more critical since the James Bond series is my Star Wars, but what good is Century 18 as my neighborhood movie theater if it can't provide me with what I want? I guess, having it at Boulder Station, which is generally nearby, but requires a car to get there (I've no trouble with that, but I like walking to Sam's Town), they didn't want to put it in two places so close to each other. Still, I lose out on this, and I would think that Century 18 would like to get in on that because they would make massive money at the concession stand that first weekend, being that Skyfall is basically printing money in the U.K. right now. The slight consolation in all this is that since Century 18 is showing Wreck-It Ralph in 2D and 3D right now, I can count on Monsters, Inc. 3D to be there in December. Plus, they are showing Lincoln next week, and I've got to see that too.

Our section of the mobile home park is not really a neighborhood. People really keep to themselves, and we had that a lot already in the apartment in Valencia nine years ago and then the house in Saugus for the following eight years. I have met some nice people, but haven't seen them since. It's not the kind of place where you simply knock on doors. You wait for the opportunity if the person happens to be outside.

I know people are busy, and I know that our city has a lot of transients, people who are here for a while and then leave for another state. I understand that. I accept it. But I lived too long with people just drifting and floating by me to endure that again. I'm ok with not seeing certain people for a time, because we're not in the same circles. The higher-up in recruitment in the Clark County School District who's helping me through the application process, I appreciate what she's doing for me, and I'm always glad to see her (not only for that, but she's also a genuinely nice soul), but I don't see her often because we don't live in the same area, nor would I be working in the district office once I get hired. I'd be working at a middle school. That's fine.

Same with the people we gave Meridith's princess bed to for their little niece. I don't recall their names, I do remember that they perform in a band in various casinos (the woman we met is the lead singer), but I don't remember what their band is called or where they've played. I haven't seen them since the day they came to pick up all the parts of the bed, but I liked them, and was glad to meet them. Simply put, I'm not fond of living in a neighborhood that seems to be populated by air. That's not to say that there's no personality in the mobile home park. Each home has its own paint job and decorations, undoubtedly decided by whoever lives in each of them. It's obvious that people live here, just not sociable people, I suppose. I like bumping into people, saying hi, and having a conversation for a bit, or going on with my day. There's not much of a chance to do that here.

We moved here because it was the only development that would hold a unit for us while Dad tried to get into the district and finally succeeded. That was most important because we couldn't fathom coming here and having to temporarily move into Hawthorn Suites, or some other extended-stay property, while the dogs stayed in a kennel. We are grateful for that, but we need more. We need an actual neighborhood, somewhere that truly feels like home, that we could see ourselves there for years and years. We thought it might be this mobile home park, but once we settled in, we found out it was not so, not what we hoped.

As it turns out, Mom's first choice was Pacific Islands, an apartment complex in Henderson that she really liked, but we could never get in to see any of the units because they were always closed when we'd finally get there. On the way back to the 15, to California, from the Galleria at Sunset mall, we stopped by there, and unfortunately it was 6 p.m. and they were already closed. Mom and Dad have seen it many times before Meridith and I did on Tuesday, and I see what she likes about it. It's an actual property, with actual thought in the design. There are trees all around, and grass, and such a peaceful atmosphere that includes a well-maintained swimming pool with a large rock formation from which a waterfall flows. It's about as much as we're paying now for rent, but most important to me, I saw people walking around! It wasn't a fluke! And then the biggest surprise of all was when we went to where the sand volleyball court is, and a heavyset guy in an upstairs apartment named Justin told us how nice it is to live there, that he's lived there for seven years, and loves the atmosphere, loves how well the management maintains the property, and when you need something fixed, they're there. There's no "It has to be on the work order," or anything like that. You need it, they'll do it. You need a dryer replaced in the outside closet where the washer and dryer are, you only have to make sure that that closet is clean enough so that maintenance can pull out the faulty dryer and replace it. That deeply impressed us.

This is not entirely about Pacific Islands, although it may become more prominent in the future. One more thing I want to mention is that part of the property faces train tracks, and three times a day, cargo trains roll by, which excited our dog Tigger when we told him about it after we got home. He loves trains. I love it too because it'll help me in my writing, in being a constant source of inspiration. When we got to that area and parked the car to look around, I went to a shorter section of wall, and looked out at those train tracks. It's first a deep wash, and then the tracks, and looking at those tracks, I felt the pull of travel. One day, I want to travel throughout New Mexico, visit all the presidential libraries in the nation, and perhaps even visit my old haunts in Florida. Those tracks remind me of that, but they also make me want to write, to conjure up the stories I want to tell, to figure out how I want to tell them. Those tracks are especially beautiful at sunset, which was happening as we were walking to the car to leave. I went right back to that wall and looked at those tracks, dreaming and imagining.

So yesterday, we went to two other apartment complexes. Each had model units available to look at, decorated to show the potential renter where a couch might go, what a working kitchen might look like, what the master bedroom will feel like. I could live without all the attempted interior decoration, though I know that they wouldn't want these units to reflect reality. They want it to be nicely laid out enough to impress potential renters into becoming renters.

Here's where my opening thoughts come into play. When our guide unlocked the door to the unit we looked at at both complexes, there was music playing from somewhere, some radio station that I only listen to at length because it's on all day in this house, and it may not even be that one, but it sounded similar to ours. Where was that music coming from? Was there a sound system somewhere in the living room? No. There was a small radio on the floor in each of the living rooms of these model units, plugged into the wall. Is there any employee who walks to the units at the end of each workday to shut off those radios? And in the morning, do they do the same to turn them on? Or do they just leave them to play all night and all day, even when there's no one who comes to see the units on a given day? It's interesting to me because the singers featured on that particular station have their worst audiences ever in these two units alone. They're basically singing to the nearby refrigerator. When we walked into the model unit at the second apartment complex, Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" was playing. I forgot what was playing in the first unit when we walked in, but after we left, and after our guide closed and locked the door, I wondered what was playing at that moment, and who would be up next to sing to the coffee table.

While we're still going to look at other apartment complexes in Henderson to see if there's anything we want more in any of those, Pacific Islands seems to be the top choice for all of us. It's quaint in many sections, peaceful in all, and there's people all around! A trickle throughout the day. I like that. I like that it won't feel like it does here during a Saturday or a Sunday. People come, people go, but no one really seems to exist. I hope Pacific Islands is what's to come because despite the troubles currently facing the Henderson Libraries, such as the upcoming closures of two branches (including the most unique one inside a small space at the Galleria at Sunset mall) that may somewhat reduce the book choices I will have, I can live with that for all that I will gain at Pacific Islands, creative sparks all around, all the time. That's good enough for me.

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