The apartments here (in Vancouver) are unlike anything I've ever seen before, anywhere on earth.
For the same amount of rent that might get me a studio apartment (with a square footage on par with what a taxi cab's trunk would have) on a terrible block in a terrible neighborhood/terrible borough in New York City, you can have something that would make a nouveau rap star blush.
Outdoor decks. Fireplaces. Views of snow-topped mountains and the ocean. Laundry machines in your own apartment. These are things that people expect from their living experiences here. Here, people fill their closets with clothing, instead of trying to pass them off as second bedrooms.
You don't have to be Derek Jeter, or a venture capitalist, or one of the Sex and the City ladies to enjoy a semi-decent quality of life here.
I've been thinking about space and apartments a lot lately because I've been considering a move. Make no mistake, where I currently live is fine. I've got a couple of bathrooms to choose from. A fancy shower. An outdoor deck and fireplace that, in a year's time, I have yet to use. (I think I enjoy the idea of using my deck, the promise of the deck, more than I actually enjoy using it. Yes, I'm strange.)
But I'm feeling a little restless these days. So my real estate agent, a nice woman named Shelly, has been showing me places for the last couple of weeks.
The places that I've seen so far? The stuff of dreams, people.
Duplexes. Multiple bathrooms. Closets. Laundry machines as far as the eye can see. (I don't even think they have laundromats here. Is there a more terrible urban invention than the laundromat?)
But the criteria that is absolutely number one on my list of must-haves: Is this place good for gaming?
Gaming requires privacy. And darkness. If not darkness, then at the very least shadow. My colleague Victor Lucas has a gaming room in the basement of his house that is, no joke, so damn dark you can practically feel the mushrooms growing on you down there.
A good gaming space--or gaming cave--requires several important qualities:
1. It needs to be a separate space from the rest of the house/apartment.
2. It needs to be as far away as possible from where your significant other sleeps at night.
3. It needs to receive an extremely limited amount of sunlight.
4. The designated space must have a conveniently located electrical outlet that is capable of handling at least eight to 10 inputs simultaneously.
The result should be a private room that is so dramatically gloomy that even Gollum would have trouble finding his Precious in there.
I've seen some places with potential so far. I saw a place yesterday in a converted warehouse with huge wooden support beams and exposed brick and a kitchen that featured a Viking range. I got a terrific feeling from being in the place. I heard that the actress Kristin Kreuk lives there. I thought about it non-stop all night. Maybe Kristin Kreuk would bump into one another in the elevator one day. We'd become friends, and no doubt exchange keys, so that we could check on each other's apartment while we were traveling. And then, one day, as we were staying up late talking one night, the 1978 Superman movie would suddenly come on TV. She would remark on my slight monkey-like resemblance to the Man of Steel. And then we would make out for several bliss-filled hours...
But in the sober, head-clearing light of morning, I faced facts: There was no part of the apartment that would permit me to have the private gaming space I need to do my work. Or "work."
So, for now, the search continues.