As I sit writing this from our new apartment in Montreal, I’m surrounded by chairs draped with the couch’s drying upholstery. The couch itself , as well as our bed, is covered with a layer of scented baking soda. The whole apartment is scattered with bowls of baking soda and open tins of coffee grinds. This morning, our first morning in Montreal, we scrubbed from 8.30am until 2pm. We are paying the penalty for not asking the most basic of subletting questions: Are you a smoker?
For the last month, our main concern about this sublet was whether it actually existed. The girl renting it came to New York and collected a wad of $1300 of my hard earned cash but was due to return to her native Greece four days before we would even arrive in Montreal. So, just after she left, we called the apartment and asked the doorman if any keys had been left for us. After a nervous few moments of “attendez sil vous plait” and rummaging he told us that there were indeed two keys in our name. Victory!!
Stacker suggested I email her and ask whether there would be clean sheets for us when we arrived. I admit it, I thought this was kind of a dumb question. Who doesn’t leave clean sheets for visitors? It turns out that was the least of our worries. The first thing to hit us as we opened the door was the musty, unmistakable smell of stale smoke. Oh s**t.
“Is that a balcony?” Stack asked and we had to open the window to confirm it. I was briefly distracted by the balcony and thoughts of evening G and Ts but was pulled out of my reverie by the sounds of Stack complaining about the state of the shower. Being older and wiser, he’s generally more picky when it comes to cleanliness so I went to see how much he was overreacting by this time. Oh geez, even as a student I don’t think I would have showered in there – you couldn’t even see into the shower through the grimy walls.
Despite being close to exhaustion after 14 hours of travelling we dragged ourselves to the thankfully very nearby grocery store for cleaning supplies. It turns out there were sheets on the bed but we weren’t taking any chances there, they went straight into the washing machine.
When the sun came up and we woke up congested and headachy from the smoky smell, the true state of things became apparent. As well as either being a prolific smoker or running a smoke-appreciation club from her apartment, it didn’t appear as if she’d made even a token effort to clean her place. A fine layer of dust covered every surface and little tumbleweeds of hair and dirt danced across the floor.
After spending the day turning the place into something we can actually live in I’m wondering whether I should deduct my daily rate from next month’s rent?
On the plus side the place is real, although I almost wish it hadn’t been! The huge balcony was a pleasant surprise (perhaps, through the tarred-up windows, she didn’t know it was there either?!) as was the massive walk in closet. It’s also thankfully bare of all Fumia Nicorini’s personal clutter, apart from a few ashtrays and a lighter, which came in handy for igniting deoderizing strips of papier d’Armenie. The best part part is the bathroom scale, which is clearly rigged and registering no weight gain after our New York excesses!
We certainly can’t complain about the beautiful view and, now that the floor-to-ceiling windows are clean, the whole apartment was sunbathed all afternoon. The same sun is now setting behind the Mont Royal park and not only is it Canada Day, there is also a Jazz Festival in full swing. It’s time to go explore our new town!