I went to a few dealerships yesterday in search of a mini SUV. At first I was thinking about the Honda CR-V because that's what I had before I left for Spain, but I wasn't super-impressed with the new models, nor the price and the Honda Dealership I went to was completely trying to screw me right off the bat. For example, when I asked about used CR-Vs I was shown a 98 model and was given the line - I swear - that an older couple only drove the car on Sundays and that it had only arrived that morning. Later I was flipping through the newspaper and saw that exact car in that dealer's weekly advertisement.
So after that I went to a Saturn which admittedly is still a car dealership but with a level of tension so ridiculously low I bought a car. Bottom of the line VUE. Manual everything (transmission, windows, etc.). I put some cash down and with 0% financing (neato!) I was able to get it for around $200 a month including the Saturn maintenance contract which in theory should keep me from having to put anything else but gas into the car for the next few years.
I then drove it into San Francisco and the "mini" part of the SUV went right out the window. My god it's huge! It's got the turning radius of a 69 Buick. I can't believe I was looking at a Honda Element seriously too... (it's ugly, but cheap). And of course, I got some slack from my anti-SUV friends in The City, soooo I'll just defend myself here as well: Look at it as a modern station wagon. It's decent sized family vehicle that I can shove Ana and I and Alex and all of our crap (stroller, bags, etc. etc. ) and take off on weekends to show them around or just go to the zoo or whatnot. It's a 2wd manual and gets 23/28mpg so it could be *a lot* worse. I didn't want a car, I wanted a nice high-riding vehicle with space to lug stuff (immediately furniture, and then afterwards bikes, etc.).
The car definitely sealed the decision to move back into The City - I can't imagine commuting in a manual. And also I've scoped out some neighborhoods near some of my friends Greg and Chris/Anne so that'll be nice as well. I was wandering around Dolores Park yesterday and we drove over the hump to Noe Valley and they both seem pretty nice... though it's always the question about cheaper/nicer neighborhood or view of the Bay. I remember being really, really happy to walk out my front door every day and having a view of the Golden Gate Bridge when I lived in The Marina. There's definitely an effect that has on you. It brightens your day, really. But some of the other neighborhoods are really nice, even without the view. We'll see what I can find. I'm going to try to get an apartment that's similar to my car: What I want but on the inexpensive side.
I need some friends/relatives with kids. I'm getting *sick* of being the only person I know with a small kid. The conversations are always so weird. I'm looking at big cars and getting slack for it, and my main concerns for an apartment/house are proximities to parks and a backyard. Yet my conversations are like "you don't want to live in that area, there's no decent restaurants." Restaurants!?!? Ana and I have been out to a nice restaurant I think ONCE in the past year or so, and maybe 3 movies. We have a KID! That's what it's like, and even worse when we move here because it'll be a while before we're able to find a babysitter for Alex that we trust, (and who he trusts) etc.
The city is still so... fucking... cold. I know life can't be perfect... but still. Why can't San Francisco have weather like Miami? I'd be *so* happy then. :-)