Apartment hunting is a stressful business. And aprtment hunting in a time crunch (say, within 24 hours), in an unfamiliar city? Even worse.
And so my parents, boyfriend, and I approached last weekend's apartment search in Pittsburgh with anti-anxiety meds, inhalers, and Kevlar in tow. And so it was our first appointment was at The Most Depressing Apartment Building of All Time.
Judging from the pictures and the price, I thought the M-- building housed luxury units for graduate students and young professionals. But when we got inside the shabby lobby and took the elevator to the 7th floor, which smelled like an old folks' home, I knew my assumption had been dead wrong.
As building manager R-- led us to the first apartment, I tried not to wrinkle my nose at the smell and the 70s-era red patterned carpet. We entered the first studio, which still looked to be inhabited. Pictures lined the walls, and several surfaces held doilies, plants, and more photographs. A single bed, shoved against the wall, was covered by an afghan. A cupboard door had been clearly labeled with a sticker that said "PILLS." It was clear we were in an old person's apartment. And it became even clearer, viewing the three 40-something people packing up boxes, that we were in an old, dead person's apartment.
Upon piecing these facts together, I was horrified. I nodded mutely as R-- pointed out the features of the space. I wanted out of there--fast.
Before entering the second apartment, R-- expressed resentment over how dirty the current tenant was. She assured me the studio would be thoroughly cleaned before move-in. She knocked on the door and received no response. Before entering, R-- covered her nose with her hand.
The place reeked of cat piss and general griminess. The sound of water could be heard from somewhere off to the right. "She's in the shower," R-- explained, and once again I felt horribly intrusive; combined with the smell, I was ready to leave as soon as we had arrived. We quickly toured the place under the glare of an angry-looking black cat and, mercifully, left before the tenant exited the shower.
The third and final apartment was a 1-bedroom, pricier than the rest. While it housed a living tenant, and did not have any malicious odor, it could still have been considered the most depressing.
"This tenant," R-- explained, "sleeps in the living room."
Upon entering, the only sign of life within view was a pile of shoes next to the door. In the living room, there was indeed a bed, or rather, a boxspring and mattress, messily made up. A computer sat in front of it, humming away atop some packing crates. Cords were strewn everywhere, and there was no other decoration in sight. I wanted to suggest to R-- that instead of renting the apartment, she should preserve it as a contemporary art piece and charge admission. Perhaps call it "21st Century Loneliness."
I said goodbye to R--, lease application in hand, knowing I would throw it away as soon as she was out of sight. Even if she had been giving the apartments away, I could never bring myself to move into that domicile of depression.