Housing is the worst.
My mom asked me today how my DC housing search was going, and I said I couldn’t handle talking about it. She could read my blog instead.
It fell to an all-time low a few days ago when I was biking through a pretty dodgy neighborhood, going out of my way to see a room. The cold wind in my hair, the chaos of rush hour traffic, the creep on the corner trying to make conversation, life was just great. I realized I’d seen a house in the area before, which was strange since it was the middle of nowhere. I turned onto a small street that I recognized. Double strange, that other house was on the exact same… oh my god. As soon as I saw a too-familiar dog and his owner coming down the front steps a block away, I wheeled my bike around and zoomed off the other way. I’d already seen the place two weeks ago.
This is what it’s come to.
Finding a room in DC is ridiculously difficult. My epic search began in early August and, being that it is now October, has taken me to over 20 different places. I can’t add up the amount of hours I’ve spent traveling around the city, shmoozing people at open houses by putting my best face forward, only to get rejected over and over again.
A few weeks ago, I spent three hours at an “open house party” because the roommates said they would only remember the people who stayed until the end. I stayed out of defiance and got called back, only to spend another two hours in a forced hang-out session. Five hours total and did I get the room? Nope.
At another place, I endured an hour-long group interrogation with 20 other potentials, before we were even shown the room. The current housemates asked us questions like, “Why would you be a good roommate?” and “What would you bring to the house?”, with notes taken of our responses. It was brutal. I cried when I left. And I found out later from one of the roommates that came into my coffeeshop that their original roommate decided to stay. THERE WASN’T EVEN A ROOM.
I have been offered a few places, but they’ve been in less-than-ideal situations. At one house, I was greeted by a 41-year-old balding man who was my potential new roomie. No thanks. Another house was so deeply under construction that the kitchen didn’t have running water, a sink or countertops installed (ironically this is the house that I went to twice). Other rooms were literal closets, or had no door but instead an open space with a piece of fabric tacked up, or was a bedroom shared with someone else. The girl in the shared room even chose another girl over me. No joke.
All of this has me asking myself- is this worth it? Is it worth the endless hits to my self-esteem by people who don’t even know me? Or the time, energy and effort taken away from other parts of my life? Or the $700+ a month I’ll have to spend once I do find a place that’s liveable?
As Thoreau says in Walden:
“And when the farmer has got his house, he may not be the richer but the poorer for it, and it be the house that has got him… for our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them; and the bad neighborhood to be avoided is our own scurvy selves.”
Mom, if you’re reading this, send me a tent.