Last week, I found myself deeply procrastinating on my writing by scrolling through my cell phone. I decided to text my new friend Daniela to see what she was up to. Alas, she was in the harrowing throes of the dreaded apartment hunt.
She was doomed. She was looking for an apartment in New York City, which, if I'm being polite, I will describe using two delicate words: f*cking. brutal.
Poor Daniela was rapidly growing weary and tiresome in her search.
First we discussed how no apartment seemed to look as good in real life as it did in the online pictures.
She then proceeded to text me a picture of a gorgeous, pre-war looking apartment with terrific light. It was a fantastic deal. It was in an awesome neighborhood. Yet Ms. Daniela wasn't feeling it.
"So, what's the problem?" I asked her, "It looks stunning!" I was impressed with the sophistication and beauty radiating through the screenshot.
"It's just not really what I envisioned, you know? I prefer a modern aesthetic."
Suddenly, it hit me like a fist. We could have just easily been talking about dating.
There is only one thing as back-breaking and brutal as looking for an apartment in your 20s, and that's f*cking dating.
The process of going on dates and the process of hunting for apartments are practically one in the same. After all, don't we search for our dates AND our apartments through the fine art of smartphone apps and websites?
Aren't we fervently overwhelmed by the dramatic surplus of options we are recklessly bombarded with on the Internet -- yet we still can't seem to find an apartment or a partner we're compatible with?
Tinder, and Bumble and Hinge are to dating as Craigslist, and RentHop and StreetEasy are to moving. We swipe away what physically repels us and stalk the sh*t out of the profiles that please our keen eyes.
So allow me to explain how trying to find an apartment is the perfect reflection of dating in your 20s.
Nothing looks as good as it does in the pictures.
One of the most universally understood things about online dating is this bitter truth: Rarely do people look as hot in person as they do in their profile pictures.
In this day and age, it's pretty safe to assume nothing you see digitally is real. There are a plethora of softening filters, slimming apps -- there are even tools that will brighten the whites of your eyes and add gleam to dry hair.
Apartments are exactly the same. You scroll through Craigslist. You stop dead in your tracks as you find a picture of the cleanest, most spacious, well-lit apartment you've ever laid your eager eyes upon.
You're immediately turned on. You can make a make a glorious life for yourself in this space!
You start to envision the rest of your life sleeping peacefully within the safe confines of this beautiful apartment.
Only to see it in person, and it looks NOTHING like it does in the pictures. It's nothing short of a dire dump that the broker Photoshopped into perfection.
The hunt quickly goes from exciting to tiresome.
Okay! So you, YOU my darling dearest dear, are a newly single entity. You're finally free from the repressive tethers of a bad relationship and can recklessly dive into the wild and wonderful world of DATING.
You're young. You're gorgeous. The world is your f*cking oyster. The city is teeming, packed to the brim with beautiful entities willing and eager to date the likes of lovely little you.
Your first few dates might have been nothing short of a disaster, but hey, we won't let that diffuse our spark, will we kittens? After all, there are plenty of fish in the f*cking sea.
Cut to a month later. Your rose-colored glasses have been aggressively removed from the bridge of your cute button nose, and you're starting to look at your newfound dating life through a bitter, cold lens (you might even be tempted to relapse with an ex).
Five failed dates later, and you're left wondering if you will ever find the one?
It's just like that bright, sunny studio in the West Village you were so excited about. The pictures looked so pretty online, and it was a piece of sh*t in person -- but that didn't stop your enthusiasm!
Your no-fee broker has seven more listings he can show you in the next 24 hours. Surely one will stick.
Cut to two weeks later -- every apartment is either a windowless prison, out of your price range or comes with a complimentary house rat.
All of a sudden, moving back in with your parents (just like going back to an ex) is starting to seem pretty f*cking tempting.
If it seems too good to be true... it is.
It's a three-minute walk to the subway. It's got an elevator. An ELEVATOR. It boasts large bay windows and sky-high ceilings.
It has a sick rooftop on which you can host all the salacious parties your generous heart desires. It's only $1200 per month. It all just feels too good to be true -- because it f*cking is.
Right as you're signing that 12-month lease -- the landlord decides it's the right time to inform you the building is infested with bedbugs.
OR you hear rumors that the last three tenants terminated their lease early due to being taunted by a slew of medieval ghosts.
OR you all of a sudden start to smell a very pungent, suspicious scent wafting from the kitchen that you can't quite identify, but it's getting hard to breathe.
It's just like the time you met that really cool chick on Tinder. She was smart, EMPLOYED, stunningly beautiful and super into you.
Right before you ask her to be your girlfriend, she slyly informs you she's still technically married and has two sets of twins under the age of eight.
Sometimes you can find potential in something that is largely imperfect.
Okay. So he's not exactly stylish, or cool, and may or may not be kind of socially inept. But there's just something there.
You can't quite put your finger on it, but you're sure if you took him shopping and invested enough time into him -- he just might be the one. It's energy you feel and can't ignore.
Okay. So it's not exactly a trendy, vibrant neighborhood. The master bedroom might not have windows. But for whatever reason, you can see yourself living there.
Repaint the walls? Get rid of the hideous wallpaper in the bathroom? It's got potential. And you've got a sneaking suspicion that the neighborhood will soon be deemed “up-and-coming.”
You grow increasingly jealous of how easily it worked out for your friends.
You start to get sorely irritated by your friends. "How did you meet your boyfriend/girlfriend?" you will ask them, hoping they will tell you horror tales of having to kiss multiple frogs until the right one came along.
And then they have the nerve to reply with "Oh, I wasn't really looking, but we randomly met at a party, and it just clicked, you know?"
It's almost as annoying as finding out your friend's two-bedroom apartment in the heart of the city is actually her FAMILY apartment that she pays zero rent for.
I have two words: F*ck. You.
You find the perfect one -- only to find out it's already taken.
You find the apartment of your f*cking dreams. Exposed brick. Sweet little fire escape from your bedroom. The type of place you always dreamed of having all to yourself. The broker is there. He's got the papers ready.
But just to be sure, you decided to think about it overnight, you cautious little bugger.
You wake up first thing in the morning and decide this gorgeous apartment is precisely what you want -- only to find out it's already been taken.
You can't leave anything great on the market for too long before it gets swooped up by something else, can you?
It's like that beautiful girl you took on a date last month. While you were scoping out the rest of your options, someone else swooped in and snagged her.
Sometimes it looks incredible, but it just doesn't feel right.
Sometimes you enter the palace of your dreams. It's absolute perfection. But something doesn't feel right. You can't quite figure out what that is, but it's a feeling. An instinct. It's confusing.
Sometimes you meet a boy who fits your description of the perfect person. He's everything you always told your mother you WANTED. But something is missing. He doesn't give you the butterflies. While he's fantastic, something just…feels…off.
You start to question if you will ever find the one.
You're becoming hopeless. After a slew of failed apartments and disastrous dates, you begin to fear you will never find the right fit for you. And just when you were about to abandon all hope…
When it clicks, it clicks.
The moment you were about to move back in with your parents because you're so broken by the process -- the moment you ALMOST relapsed with your dreaded ex -- TA-F*CKING-DA.
You decide to go on that one blind date. You decide to view that one last listing.
Suddenly, everything falls beautifully into place. It feels like, well, home.