I Know Better

When you’re little, there are basic rules of life that your parents bore into your brain. They tell you over and over again, to the point that you roll your eyes when you can feel it coming.

Basic rules of life.

1. Do not get into a stranger’s car.

2. Do not wander around neighborhoods you are not familiar with.

3. Do not go into apartments or houses that belong to people you do not know.

As a child – even through your early teenage years – these rules are very easy to follow.

Then you start apartment hunting.

You meet a “broker” aka the sleaziest human being you’ve ever encountered, you get in his/her car and they drive you [dangerously, occasionally on sidewalks, sometimes even hitting parked cars] to someplace you’ve never been before. A new borough, a new neighborhood, a new building.  You enter a stranger’s apartment. Or an empty apartment.

At one point today I found myself and my roommate, alone in a fairly sketchy broker’s office with a very tall, very strong-looking man.

Obviously, it was fine, and he was just doing his job, and he was actually one of the sweetest people we’ve talked to so far.

It just clicked today that this was, by far, the sketchiest process ever.  I can’t even tell you how many random men and women’s cars I’ve climbed into the back of in the past month. I’m so glad my roommate was with me the entire time, otherwise I may have ended up living in a cardboard box on the corner of 51st and Broadway……..Or chopped up and stuffed into a dumpster in the back of a parking garage…

This process is everything we’ve ever been warned against. My roommate and I are the perfect balance of trust/distrust, approval/hesitance. I think wherever we end up will be fine. But as we see different places and meet with different people, I’m fully aware of how messed up it all seems.

I miss college. In college, you could choose where you wanted to live. Ultimately, though, they TOLD you were to live. You had your spot, you had no choice. However, ‘homelessness’ was never an option.

It will all work out, it always does.

But it doesn’t keep this process from being downright sleezy.

And against every Stranger Danger rule I’ve ever learned.

A friend at work recently said that she thinks the process of moving is a lot like childbirth. It sucks so much while you’re going through it, but as soon as it’s over, you sort of forget how awful it really was, so that you can do it again someday.

I think that’s the most accurate thing I’ve ever heard about apartment hunting. At least in New York City.


~ by Valerie Anne on 08/18/2011.

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