We’re going on a house hunt.
We’re going to catch a big one.
What a beautiful day!
We’re not scared.
Or was I?
House hunting in Spain during a lockdown is agonizing.
Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy! went the first few weeks. Not too bad. I mostly strolled around the town (this was between the two lockdowns), trying to find my way around and which area would be my preferred place to live.
I looked at online ads and then I started making phone calls. The online ads were rarely current; real offers were snatched up within hours. I realized I might need to adjust some of my ideals. But I had time. It was only January. Splash splosh! Splash splosh! Splash splosh!
I found one that I wanted and seized the opportunity. But when the realtor contacted the owner again, she had already rented it out to someone else. Squelch squerch! Squelch squerch! Squelch squerch! And that was only the beginning.
The more realtors I contacted, the fewer the options seemed to be. Thus began a series of realtors who pretended to be helpful and passive-aggressively stopped responding to my messages or phone calls.
Prices soared. The demand was so much greater than the supply. Meanwhile, everyone knew that there were empty apartments all around the city, but no one wanted to open their doors to renters, especially of the immigrant variety. I learned to ask in a roundabout way if the place was legal. I learned to carry papers with me that showed I was indeed earning money and indeed a legal resident. I even learned a few self-defense tips along the way. Stumble trip! Stumble trip! Stumble trip!
At this point, I decided that I didn’t care what the place looked like. I am creative and could deal with that later. Just please. Something.
In the middle of all of the realtors who took great pleasure in ignoring me, there were a few who promised to call me with options and then did. I teared up the first time that happened. The place was on the opposite side of the city from teammates, but I didn’t rule it out right away. Instead, I begged the realtor to let me work with her in the future (I didn’t tell her she was the practically the only one who was willing to work with me). Hoooo woooo! Hoooo woooo! Hoooo woooo!
Time wore on. I lost hope. Or very close to it. My emotional pendulum clattered unpredictably between “God, You’ve got this under control” and “The sky is falling!”
Even as towns shut down again due to covid, I continued contacting the faithful few until I became a dripping faucet.
“Are there any new apartments for rent?”
“Have you found anything new?”
“Could you please tell me if you find a new apartment?”
Then it happened.
A realtor contacted me and said his friend wanted to rent out her place to a single female. NO MEN ALLOWED. Within a week, I was in contact with the home-owner. And we met, despite the travel restrictions. (Don’t ask too many questions; as far as I know, it wasn’t transgressing the law, but I’m not asking questions either.) I saw the place and realized it was better than the grainy pictures she had sent me.
She was hesitant because of the nature of my work, afraid that suddenly she would find the floors lined with makeshift beds full of the city’s homeless, namely MEN. And since men weren’t allowed to move in, she told me she would have to think about it.
I was stuck in the middle, wondering whether or not I should keep looking. I didn’t. Not because I had great faith that I would get the place, but because I was too tired to keep on. I offered the home-owner a few references and she took me up on them. “I like you as a renter, but I don’t want your friends.”
Tiptoe! Tiptoe! Tiptoe!
And then one morning, she told me she was in Immigrantville and could she stop by? Was this a sneaky way of seeing inside of our current apartment? I swept our not-very-dirty floor just in case. She clarified a few things and smiled all over. “I will tell you tomorrow morning, but I think it will be you. The other girl is from town and she will have a boyfriend move in with her, I know.”
So, my friends, it seems that abstinence has won the day.
And I have won an apartment in downtown Mytown. As I settle in this week, I keep finding quirks that may one day drive me crazy, but still, it’s a beautiful day!
Note: Italicized words from the children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Micheal Rosen and Helen Oxenbury