It’s been a long time since I’ve had to troll websites advertising rooms for rent. I forget that I can become obsessed with it, checking a website every five minutes to see if something new and absolutely amazing has popped up. As in the roommate who will become my ultimate best friend, who will cook me meals and bring me chocolate when I’ve had a bad day. The roommate who doesn’t speak English so my Spanish progress will skyrocket. The roommate who is funny, tidy and never leaves dirty dishes in the sink. Do I have high expectations? Perhaps. In reality, I just want to live with people who want to foster their relationship with their roommates by sharing meals once in a while or watching a movie together rather than living with people who just exchange pleasantries in passing.
Talking on the phone in Spanish is my least favorite oral Spanish activity to do. It’s very difficult without the aid of hand gestures but it’s a must if you want to rent a room with Spanish speakers. I called a few places and arranged some dates for apartment viewings. Going to see a prospective room to rent and meet your prospective future roommates is always a tricky endeavor. Akin to blind dates or finding a therapist, you usually have to dedicate yourself to shifting through the silt for a period of time in order to find that one piece that gold.
Usually, within five minutes of stepping over the threshold into an abode, I know whether or not I want to be considered for the available room. The girl on the fifth floor with a view of the sea, albeit a tiny view, but a view nonetheless, who was all smiles with an immaculately clean apartment and tons of sunshine streaming through the doors of the verandah? Yes! The friendly yet incredibly awkward couple who stood in the hall assuming I would show myself around the apartment while they stood nervously eyeing me? No. The various apartments where you literally couldn’t fit more than one human in the kitchen at a time? No. So how do you get yourself out of the situation if you are not interested? I feel it’s rude to walk in, look to your left and your right and then say, “Nope, not interested!” Are you insulting the people already living there by doing that? I went to see a few places that were like dungeons, holed up with other taller apartment buildings surrounding them so there was no sunlight filtering in through the windows. Depressing. I felt my soul would be sucked out of my body and I would wither away into a pale decimated shell of nothingness. Quiet death by lack of vitamin D. I need sunlight in my apartment, I need house plants and fresh air! This actually seems to be a lot to ask for when finding a place in this city.
Because I lack the balls to tell perfect strangers right off the bat that I don’t want to live with them, I used the excuse that I was seeing a few more apartments later that day so I would text them and let them know if I wanted to be considered. I deemed it appropriate to wait about 24 hours, thus given the idea that I saw some other rooms, even if I didn’t, and then would text and say I had decided on a different room. Most people didn’t seem to care, the best response was an emoji of a cartoon face sobbing, followed by the ubiquitous “haha.” I appreciated the sarcasm and laughed to myself as I received the text but that apartment was disorderly and lacking character.
But then you find the apartment that you really want to rent, and the warm and gracious Italian roommate who doesn’t really speak English so you will speak only in Spanish, and there’s an adorable little tortoiseshell cat, named Aita, who immediately jumps into your lap as you sit at the kitchen table getting to know your future (hopefully, fingers crossed) roommate and you know this one is it! I trusted my gut that said yes as soon as I walked into the apartment. And the sunlight! Glorious rays penetrate various windows all day as the apartment is situated in the corner of a building. And a kitchen that you can fit more than one person in with ample counter space and a gas stove. Tall ceilings, tiled floors (which actually I could use an area rug in my bedroom as in the winter those tiles do not lend themselves kindly to feet as the cold penetrates all the way up to my ankle) and heaps of houseplants. Splashes of color and rooms lit with cozy lights, I am so happy to be here in this apartment.
It feels good to have a place called home here in Barcelona. It is one item to remove from the ever seemingly long list of things to do here. It has been a challenge adjusting to living in a large city, something I’ve never done before and will never do in the states. This much I know. At the very least, I now have a place to lay my head with two nice roommates and an adorable cat to boot.