After cleaning out their Uptown apartment, Georgia and her fiancee, Matt, were left with the essentials — an umbrella, a sombrero, an iron dinosaur, and a tub of Crisco.
Two out of two Realtors I’ve met randomly here in Reno have second jobs: one at a rental-car agency, and the other at a nursery.
Coincidence? I haven’t pried, but I doubt it. The city’s famously bruised housing market is still on the mend, however, and even made Realtor.com’s quarterly “top 10 turnaround towns” list in August, thanks to a median list-price that’s spiked 26 percent since the same time last year.
Let’s hope my social life does some spiking here, too, because cross-country moves equal cabin fever, which in turn equals over-eagerness to talk deeply with every cashier who’s ringing up my unmentionables at Walgreens. Or everyone in general, really.
The good news is that the more I scout out our neighborhood on foot, the more it feels like an open-arms, hippie Highland Park — from the gorgeous Tudor and Spanish manses that make our place look like servant quarters to the waving joggers and the Airstream trailer I recently saw parked on our street. The owner, a tanned guy in his late 50s, was packing it full of travel gear.
I wish he’d hang out with us.
“How’m I doin’?” Wyn repeated back to me with a mellow sort of West Coast drawl. “I’m doin’ just fine, seeing as I’m about to go surfin’ for a whole week.”
I told him my fiancé and I would be visiting the Netherlands in a few days, which was true.
“Wull hey,” he quipped, 10 seconds after meeting me. “Pick me up some hash while you’re there.”
“We sure will!” I blathered. False.
Many people around here are our age, actually — early 30s — with dogs and strollers and such, and we’ve wondered how pathetic it’d be to stick fliers in their mailboxes and ask them over for a barbecue/open-house. They’ve been stopping to look at our place from the sidewalk, at least, as it was recently overhauled.
It’s probably just regular-sized by many DFW folks’ standards (2,200 square feet), but this house feels massive compared the one-bedroom apartment we’d packed to the gills back in Uptown. We even have convincing-looking gas fireplaces that light up in a whoosh, as if Austin Powers himself has arrived.
Granted, we also have doors that open on their own, beams that creak for no reason, a paranoid smoke detector, and a bathroom light that once flipped on in the wee hours of the morning.
I’d used it just a few minutes before, but whatever.
“Matt,” I hissed, shaking my fiancé awake, “I swear, this place is haunted or something. Which sucks, because it’s so cute.”
Matt’s got a scientific background. He’s also generally sleep-deprived.
“It’s 3 a.m., Georgia, and this is what, a 90-year-old building? Things creak and settle. Goodnight.”
“WE’RE CALLING THE GHOST CARLOS,” he finally sputtered. “GOODNIGHT.”
That helped, but not much.
Then I recalled a talk I’d had a few years earlier with a well-known Preston Hollow real estate agent [Lydia Player]. I’d been working on a silly Halloween article, and was prompting this kind, professional woman to tell me something — anything — creepy about the business. Occasionally a house just gives you a weird, uneasy feeling, she’d finally told me. And those’re the properties that come back on the market every year or two.
A minute later, with Matt sighing loudly into his pillow, I pulled up our home’s tax history.
“See, this is what being a reporter’ll teach you,” I told him gamely.
“Go to sleep,” he muttered (“then find more work,” he probably added in his head).
My findings: Other than our landlady, who recently bought the house, it’s had just two owners in the last three decades. One passed away in her early 60s, and the other was her daughter, who assumed the property a few years ago. I didn’t tell Matt that I went so far as to pull up the older woman’s obituary.
I gulped. She looked like one of my relatives, and her eloquent bio described a sensitive soul who’d cherished her animals and her neighborhood.
“It’s not haunted,” I declared the next morning, feeling like a superstitious, shut-in loon.
“Of course it’s not,” my housemate replied, eyes a-rolling. “You’re just bored.”
There’s no Carlos here — no one but us, the cat, and the turquoise guestroom my Texan friend Anna will inhabit tonight on her way back from Burning Man.
A desert party sounds wild and everything, but I’d still rather have a roof — this one, character and all — over my head.
(This is the second dispatch from Georgia Fisher — a lifelong Texan who has followed her fiancee to Reno, Nev., only to feel like a fish out of water in the desert. Find out more about Georgia in her first post here.)