My first thought when opening the door to my new flat was: this is shit.
I imagined my flat and the building to be like what I saw in my sister’s flat: a beautiful Haussmann style façade with a big heavy door at the entrance, old floors and superb ceiling mouldings, along with a modern decoration with taste.
My building seemed to come out right from the 70’s, the elevator and flat doors had scratches all over them, the paint partly coming off and some not even closing anymore. The flat entrance door’s key was thinner than the one of my bedroom, the floors changed from one room to another in discordant styles, from which some could have been previously used in a hospital. On top of that, my bedroom smelled like my grandma’s home with a touch of cold smoke; I collapsed on the bed to realise that the mattress was as thin as my door key.
I called my parents, angry and desperate, to warn them that there was a high probability I moved flat, describing it – without exaggerating – that I couldn’t stay in such an ugly flat, the building and area seemed unsafe, and that maybe I’d get murdered and they’d never see me again!
But little did I know during that call that I would soon forget to see all these ugly details, realise it was completely safe and start to love with all my heart what will soon become my new “home sweat home”.
As I opened the curtains of my bedroom, I jumped in surprise, and so did the person on the other side of the window. My balcony – not so private balcony – also had a door to the living room. The girl was sitting on one of the two chairs, a computer on her lap, headphones in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
I closed back the curtains and turned to my sister, wondering if I was meant to come out and say hi. Deciding I could do it later (hm-hm too shy to make the first step), I starting unpacking. A few minutes later, I heard the girl in the kitchen (in front of my bedroom, which the door was open, making it awkward if I didn’t say Hi at that point), I willingly decided to meet her.
Justine, 19 years old (she looked older), Swiss (from the French part) and doing a 6 months internship at the Arts Hotel until January 2018 (so 5 months to go) – and this is how we ended our first (short) conversation, soon to become hundreds.
Later that day, after I finished having my first dinner (pizza), the third person that would complete the trio came home – completely stoned, but I didn’t see that at the time.
He removed his headphones and shook my hand. Kyle, 28 years old (damn, that’s old), Swiss (again?! – but from the German part), and studying Business (like me!) at Hiddenname Business School (like me!) in third year (like my sister!).
After 2 minutes chatting, he excused himself “I’m gonna say hi to Justine” and excitingly opened the balcony door to go sit and talk with her. And that’s when I felt it. I was going to like that place, and the time I’d spend with them.
Nevertheless, it took some time before we became what I call our trio.
I had spent that first weekend glued to my sister, either in my flat or in hers. One night, I started a conversation with Justine in the kitchen, which went on for about 3 hours, until I realised I only had 4 more hours to sleep. As I went in my bedroom, Kyle came home completely drunk, and very loud. Although I had told Justine I didn’t mind the noise – not when I have to wake up in the morning; I told them to be more quiet and went to sleep (she later told me that at that point she thought I was going to be the annoying flatmate to hate noise and to live with her sister forever).
However after that, all we small talked about was the stupid French TV show we both watched and loved (Les Marseillais). Until about three weeks later, when we sat down at the dinning table gossiping about our new Italian flatmate who didn’t talk to anyone, and laughing at her lousy attempts to roll a cigarette.
With Kyle, it took a bit more time because we first secretly hated each. We fought over the air conditioning without even knowing it: I thought he was crazy to set it so cold as I was waking up freezing and could hear Justine coughing all the time; and it drove him nuts to wake up completely wet of sweat because I had turned the air conditioning off in the middle of the night.
It seemed like a battle of who spoke the less: “Hello, please, thanks, bye” were the only words we exchanged, if any. And on top of that, he was ignoring me at school: looking away, turning around when I passed him, as a brother seeing his annoying little sister.
Everything changed the night we organised a “flatmate dinner”, the four of us. Kyle cooked, Justine, the Italian girl and I put the table. For the first time, we all talked to each other; we even played a card game that became a tradition to play in our trio. We then all went out, got drunk, and weirdly – or not – that’s when the three of us started bounding.
After that night, we spent all our time together, or the most we could. Kyle and Justine got stoned together, we drunk together, partied together, we met friends together watched movies and played cards almost every nights. The ugly flat became the place had most fun at, was excited to return at and felt face; without seeing it coming, it had became my new home.
PS: Names were changed and pictures are not mine (F.R.I.E.N.D.S tv show)