I was used to vacuumed floors, blinds that were intact and a beautiful view of the bridge. This was Unit 1, Deustch Hall, room 313. Little did I know, those were all luxuries I’d come to miss.
Toward the end of last year, my roommates and I were scrambling on Craigslist, hoping to find the perfect two-bedroom apartment — one with a deck, a view and parking. We didn’t.
Instead, we came across an apartment that I can only describe as “quaint.” Rushed by the realtor, we only saw it for about five minutes. After deliberating on the phone with two of our roommates who couldn’t be at the showing, we put down a deposit. We had become tenants in a matter of minutes.
For the two months before our lease started, I convinced myself that it would be okay. It didn’t seem like the walls were moldy, and the roof seemed intact for the five minutes we were there. We’d survive.
In an attempt to calm my nerves and show the two absentee roommates what they were in for, we scheduled a second showing. Though we were aware that such a practice was uncommon after signing the lease, our property manager agreed. Lo and behold, the property manager was an hour late to the appointment — during Tele-BEARS, mind you — and only showed up because we cussed her out on the phone. The current tenants had no idea we were coming.
Regardless of the hurdles, I was still confident. Everyone seemed a bit disgruntled by the problems caused by the property manager but still somewhat hopeful. We still didn’t find mold. That was the new bar we set.
Skip ahead a couple months, and now it’s just me and a “quaint,” defected apartment. There’s no air conditioning, no sink disposal and a shower that feels like a nearly empty water can. Locking the doors is a workout, and sometimes I’m forced to wait in the dark thanks to dysfunctional lights. No one had told me to consider these things at the open house. I was just looking for a roof and plumbing.
Having said all that, I’m still adamant to call this my home — mainly because I’ve memorized the speech I retell my parents every phone call. Yes mother, no one has broken in. I am capable of being an adult now, and I realize that responsibility comes with a lot of scratched paint and broken light bulbs.
My apartment is the ugly stepdaughter of what I imagine a Manhattan penthouse would be. Yes, it’s filled with a lot of unconventional — some might say unbearable — qualities, but as I cooked my first meal in the 5-by-2 space allotted for our kitchen, I could actually see me and my roommates living here. We may have spent the first few weeks complaining about things that don’t work and the octogenarian neighbors who try to hit on us, but it’ll still be home.
I can stomach the questionable looks my brother gives me as he consistently manages to ram furniture into the wall — defending himself with, “It’s okay; this place is shit anyway. They won’t even notice.” I can even stomach the fact that there are questionable stairs outside my kitchen with a giant sign that reads CAUTION. It’s my questionable home, for better or worse.
Friends who have visited me are actually more supportive than my family. Though they admit they wouldn’t be caught dead living in such a place, they can see me making it a home. Regardless of what everyone says, I’ll take my view of the animal hospital over a boring, conventional home any day. Since we go to Berkeley, which is the definition of unique, it’s only fitting that our apartment is too.