Sunday, June 22, 2008

The best Craigslist roommate is no Craigslist roommate

This past weekend, I journeyed to Beantown to explore apartment options and attend a housing workshop sponsored by Emerson, where I will be starting grad school in the fall. The purpose of the workshop was to learn about the various neighborhoods in Boston and also meet potential roommates, i.e. other students new to the area who might be less suspect than weirdos on Craigslist.

I arrived at the workshop promptly at 10:00 am, when it was scheduled to begin. I was showered, casually but cutely attired, and looking as friendly-but-laid-back as possible. Upon arrival, I was handed a packet containing information about all the other Emerson students seeking housing. Turns out, most were actually undergrads and transfer students and too young for me to consider living with. Don't get me wrong, at 27 I'm still very much in my salad days and green in judgment, but I have no intention of rooming with a 19-year-old from Ohio who *hearts* Goldfrapp.

No matter, I thought, I can still maybe learn something here about what parts of Boston might be worth investigating. But alas, even that portion of the workshop was clearly designed to benefit 19-year-olds who listen to Goldfrapp and their anxious parents. There was, for example, a brief tutorial on how to ride a subway. Since I have lived in New York for the past five years, I long ago mastered not only how to ride the subway, but also how to ignore the guy on the 7 train platform in Times Square taking a dump into a pizza box. I left the workshop at 10:30 so as to avoid the icebreaker games scheduled before lunch.

Perusing ads on Craigslist later that day, I started noticing a trend: everyone describes themselves in EXACTLY THE SAME WAY and as a result, sounds totally nondescript. Just browse the roommates/shares section, and you'll see that coincidentally everyone is clean, but not a "neat freak," likes to go out with friends sometimes and also enjoys staying in, and is into really unusual things like music and film. OMG, me too!

Despairingly, I began to flip through my Emerson packet. Maybe I was being ageist. Maybe I could live with one of these youngsters, and be like that cool older sister that buys them beer. I considered contacting Doug, a rising senior from Boston, who thought it was important to note on his form that he could "beat 10 ninjas in a fight." My heart went out to Jessica, age 20, who described herself as "awesome," wrote that she "likes pina coladas" and then (adorably) crossed it out. And then there was the form filled out by someone I will call "The Fun Police," which read in part:

I'm 22 years old and despite my age I do not go out on a regular basis. I'm looking for a roommate who is over the bar/club phase because I certainly am.

I mean, props for being honest, but come on! College is all about making poor choices. Ultimately, the person that appealed to me the most was Ross from upstate NY, who seemed to be finding the whole roommate-finding business as ridiculous as I was. He wrote, in jest presumably:

I shower on a regular basis, and condition. I am trustworthy, and loveable [sic].
I don't walk around naked, ever. I do my laundry and don't pee on the toilet seat. I prefer Equal to Splenda. I like to meet new people, even head cases, as long as they have good hygiene. I love cats. Diet Coke beats Diet Pepsi. I don't play any sports. I'm nice.

I fully plan to look this dude up once I'm on campus, if only so we can talk about our shared preferences with artificial sweeteners.

After a lot of soul-searching, I decided that I'm just too damn old to live with strangers and waste time doing other people's dishes. I put down a deposit on a little studio in Allston and got on the next bus back to NYC.

**Special thanks to Daniel at Exit Realty for proving me wrong re: the existence of no-fee brokers, which I had previously believed to be as real as unicorns.

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