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Squeeze play

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You know how people always tell you "Oh, it will all work out?" It usually doesn't matter what the problem is; they're only half listening anyway, and "It will all work out" is a safe catch all response. But sometimes it doesn't all work out; sometimes your best laid plans get all shot to heck and you are left in a tiny cramped apartment in downtown Durham with a frustrated husband, two teenagers, a dog and $1300 monthly rent.

After 20-plus years cohabitating in and around North Carolina, my husband and I have experience in the home and house hunting process, but whoever said it's a buyer's market wasn't referring to Trinity Park. After months of searching, waiting and walking through, we finally found the one. The indigenous red clay of the triassic basin in which we reside was the deal breaker. Foundation, foundation, foundation! A couple of weeks later we found ourselves walking into a sweet deal on Markham, but by the time we called back a mere two hours later, it was already sold. The buyer paid the asking price in cash.

Thanksgiving weekend we had to move out of our North Durham home. No amount of stalling, bluffing and refusing to paint the trim would scare off the buyers. With most of our belongings stuffed into a storage pod and shipped off to a local warehouse (hopefully to be seen again), we recruited my co-workers, loaded up the remaining furnishings and headed to downtown Durham.

West Village has the coolest apartments in the Triangle. Tobacco warehouses built in 1900 and renovated in 2000, the loft-style living spaces are unique. The red brick walls, ancient, forest yellow pine columns, hardwood floors and other features make this an urban but quaint habitat. But 18-foot ceilings with 12-foot interior walls do not allow for much privacy. My husband and I cannot even have quiet bedtime conversation without the kids chiming in. Forget about any other private bedtime activities. We have always been strict about our teenagers spending the night over at their friend's house. Now, it is encouraged; it is even possible on school nights.

One good thing about apartment living is that I do know where the business envelopes are. They are in the left top drawer of the china cabinet. The scissors are there, too. The china isn't; it's in storage, but the cabinet is the only place we have to put everyday necessities. Ask me where it is and I'll tell you. There are only so many places things could be in a three-room apartment. My dresser would not fit in the bedroom so now my sock drawer is a small plastic basket I got in the kitchen section at the local mart. Some things we had to send out. My spring clothes are in my mother-in-law's closet in Virginia, and the Christmas decorations are hidden under my work station at the office.

Another convenience is the proximity of our kids' school, Durham School of the Arts. It is literally 30 paces outside the door. Waiting for a break in the traffic to cross Duke Street takes longer than the actual walking. The kids like to tell their friends of our lifestyle change. They are hesitant to tell their teachers, especially their first-period teacher. The school bus was late picking me up excuse will not work anymore.

So now we are waiting, hoping that someone in one of those lovely homes in coveted Trinity Park moves back to New York. Our real estate agent is still optimistic but knows some day real soon she'll have to break the news to us--it's time to expand our search. Downtown living is fine, but sometimes an almost perfect house in an OK neighborhood is better than a less-than-perfect living situation in a cool but cramped apartment. I'm sure it will all work out.

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