So it’s a beautiful sunny day and we’re seeing this place at it’s best.
Sunlight is trying to stream through the bay windows, impeded by months of neglected housekeeping, dappled dust all but obscuring the view of the maple trees slowly turning to red and gold in the late September coolness. It’s not exactly a ‘spacious’ one bedroom apartment, as advertised. Comparing the photos on the website to the reality, it’s possible to see where the camera was held up to the corner of each room. The actual 3m square kitchen does appear to be large enough to cook in; the actual 3 by 4 metre lounge big enough to lounge in. There is single glazing in all the windows and none of them locks. The fact that the apartment is on the third floor does not instill much confidence – there are custom-cut lengths of bamboo slotted into the inner rail of the lounge and the bedroom windows. It’s only for two nights, he’s thinking. The hallway cupboard reveals discarded trainers and a shoebox full of cigarette lighters, playing cards, disembodied electrical cables and a forlorn-looking remote control, minus batteries. This place has been deserted in a hurry, he’s thinking. Trying out the Lazy-boy armchair, he notices the recent ceiling paint-job, the edges having been amateurishly rushed before the roller applied, giving an unintended border to every wall. He sighs and gets to his feet, wanting to leave but knowing he’s too tired to do so. The bathroom seems clean, at first sight. But opening drawers and cupboards, he finds razors, cotton buds and toothbrushes, not all of them clean. For fuck’s sake. The bed looks comfortable, at least, and an experimental bounce confirms it. Okay, so we’ll stay and leave a shitty review, he’s thinking. Is that honest? Is that decent? Better to leave now, or better to suck it up, stay and leave quietly? He checks the cancellation policy and sees that they can’t leave early. At least not without losing what they’ve paid. It could be worse. it could be way worse, he knows, A little psychological effort and he’s got a calming mantra going in his head, Windows are open, and some organic music is filtering through the fug of abandonment which seems to pervade the apartment. Salt in the corners of the rooms, he’d once read, would absorb bad vibes. Tomorrow would be another day. There was a Canadian Shiraz in the fridge; how bad could that be? Resignedly, he washed the glass he’d found in the cupboard above the sink. Was it really that dirty, or was it the general ambiance which cast it’s gloom on everything he saw? The first glass emptied almost before he’d tasted it and, to be fair, he’d had worse. Well, much worse. This was okay. No, really, this wasn’t too bad at all. He sat back in the fake leather mammoth armchair, depressed the ‘recline’ switch and inhaled the aroma of what was, in fact, pretty good wine. This was okay, he repeated to himself. This was okay. Right here, right now, this breath. The perfection of the moment. There was always a new day, another opportunity to make new choices.