Episode Five – The Deck
The timing could not have been more formidable to move out of our cherished home of 20 years when the Coronavirus pandemic briskly erupted in spring of 2020. But our decrepit 100-year-old home on a tiny island was shivering and waterlogged – with no heat in the rooms, rampant mold in the basement, dry rot eating the walls and termites devouring the floors. I knew we had no choice but to get out of Dodge.
After weekends searching among lavishly described rentals that turned out to be overpriced raggedy matchboxes, we found an ad on Craigslist one cloudy Sunday afternoon. The realtor’s only remark when I inquired about the apartment was that it was spacious. I didn’t expect much, particularly after we arrived at the crusty 1970s building and saw the other shabby apartment units perched haphazardly on the hillside.
Upon entering Unit 21 through a dark hallway, I turned the corner to see light flowing through a series of sliding glass doors. Crossing the oversized living room, I opened a rectangular black aluminum glass portal and stepped onto a long, narrow deck spanning the entire apartment. In my immediate view were dozens of sailboat masts crowded into a tiny harbor adjacent to a lush green island.
West Coast Beauty
To a girl who grew up in Dallas where tacky, garish powerboats noisily galivanted man-made lakes teeming with tiny sawed-off tree trunks, the natural beauty of the West Coast was a feast for my eyes. In that moment I was instantly hooked, and impetuously began visualizing how I would embellish our new deck with the rusty old iron sailing ship we bought at an antiques store in Sonoma.
Convincing Marshall to move to Unit 21 was accomplished by emphasizing that it was only eight minutes away from our Golden Gate project – an appreciable convenience for both of us. Although the process took a while, we gradually outfitted the apartment and deck with all the possessions we couldn’t part with that would complement the space, inside and out. An antique ceramic angel plaque that never had a proper home at Golden Gate now graced a shingled wall on our new deck.
The Presence of Plants
We transferred as many plants and containers as we could from Golden Gate to the apartment and deck. The plants’ vibrant colors and textures helped transform the stark white walls inside and hard man-made surfaces of concrete and steel outside. I find the presence of nature in all spaces comforting, life affirming and essential to my wellbeing.
Weather permitting, we enjoy eating lunch and dinner outside day and night, admiring the colorful geraniums that surprisingly bloom year-round on this deck. And we have our spectacular front row seats for the all-embracing view of the San Francisco Bay that delights us every day from dawn to dusk.
The Ever-Changing Views
The tiny town at the end of the Tiburon Peninsula still sparkles at dawn – Angel Island on the left and Corinthian Island on the right. A glowing orange sky lights ups the sculptural skyline of San Francisco and the Bay Bridge on a sun filled morning in May.
Purple rain clouds mix with luminescent pink skies in March as the sun rises over what I still believe is and will remain the transcendent City by the Bay. It seems to be struggling to find itself as we ooze out of the pandemic, but I have faith our beautiful City will soon emerge into a better version of itself.
One of the things I love most about the Bay Area is the presence of the playful, mystical and musical fog in August, typically accompanied by the soft moans of five fog horns. Here, it slithers in under the Golden Gate Bridge, hiding the City from view while creating a backdrop for a world-weary black freighter and whimsical white sailing ship.
Nighttime on the Bay most evenings of the year are captivating and magical as land mixes with sea and trees, shapes, shadows and shimmering lights create a painting I utterly have no words for.
We are indeed blessed to have found Unit 21. Despite its ugly-duckling features, it fills our lives with beauty every day. And I am also blessed by all of you who have written such wonderful comments on The Apartment Series. I thank you for your suggestions, insights, and stories about your homes as well as the inspiration to keep me writing.
Golden Gate Transformation Series
Stay tuned for updates on Golden Gate as we progress through our daunting renovation process after finally receiving the elusive building permit. The images like this one may shock and awe but there’s no turning back now!
For the love of views, new spaces and old spaces,