Getting or Not Getting the House

Why do I feel so guilty about nostalgically wanting a bigger Japanese house built in the 70s? As if to receive guests from abroad, or not wanting to be boxed into a tiny room is a crime. It comes from the real estate agents’ comments, but also, a New Yorker’s first comments on seeing the photos (well, photos can be deceiving): “wow, it’s so big!”. We all expect Japanese houses to be small, smaller than NYC apartments. I have also been hesitating because it is not close to where the artists live, and it is not optimal for a wet lab.

I recruited one of the few people I know from around here, and walked over there after dark. The road close by was wide and well-traveled, with streams of people leaving a nearby large building.

We walked around the neighborhood, and enjoyed the small streets, kids playing in the alleys who said hello to us, even if my friend was not Japanese. There was a lot of nostalgia for sure, for the old house was built around the years I was born. Beautiful. Japanese. Balcony, inner mini-yard, and luminous bathroom with windows that open. Now I felt safe walking home in the evening there. The local bar we stopped by afterwards, the regulars were merry (a fish market worker, a regional queen of karaoke), the food good, and they talked with you!

So it was a disappointment when the head of HR informed me that my agent was being aggressive (which I did feel), and was pushing to make a deal on a living situation that was probably not able to withstand an earthquake. He suspected that there was a somewhat non-positive reason the price went down over the weekend, and the house now advertised all over the web.

This made my heart bubble over, and hopes burst.

I am already tired from commuting 3-4 hours a day. The house is perfectly situated for the 3 locations I have to reach for work, 2 of which I could commute by bicycle.


It was a semi-relief when I went to my appointment on Saturday, and the young agent was sitting with another woman, a young, well-groomed woman, who looked a bit embarrassed and taken aback that someone else showed up at the same time for her appointment. There was a misunderstanding. I had not sent in anything, as I’d thought I would see the agent in person on Saturday afternoon. The agent from his side was waiting for me to send my application by email.

But no, I’ve lived in America. I’m not going to sign some random piece of paper without some explanation as to what will happen and how, and the chance to ask some questions. Neither was I just applying for one place – I’m used to applying to a bunch of places, and being rejected on most. I am not used to applying one by one and paying a reservation fee for each place.

Evidently, we didn’t understand each other. On the other hand, this meant that I did not have to make an immediate decision. I left the agent with the new client, and enjoyed the beautifully sunny Saturday afternoon.

I love the house, even though I am feeling pushed. I sent the unsigned but filled in document, with my father as a guarantor. How old do I have to be, and how much do I have to earn to not need my father? I cannot imagine if one did not have anyone to fulfillthis role at the time of the application. What if one is not from here, or no family members are available?

The freight ship arrives with my possessions at the port next week. The reality is, that I still have not completed the application for a place to live. Do I want to live here, or am I just tired?


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