Welcome to part 2 of my post on finding an apartment in Jerusalem! As I mentioned earlier, I finally found a place to live, on my own, in the center of town in Jerusalem. It was at the upper end of my budget, but I was determined to make it work. The only issue that had me concerned was the fact that it was a loft space, with only a rickety ladder connecting the main area to the loft/sleeping area. My Persian landlords (pertinent information for the story) assured me they would build me a small staircase to connect the two. They even put “new staircase” in our contract along with “small fridge” (aka mini fridge, as it turned out) and some other goodies to sweeten the deal. As I had never signed my own lease contract (in a foreign language) before, I gave the lease to some very well-meaning, very non- lawyer Israelis I knew. They seemed super concerned about the contents of the contract but I soon found out it was all standard. As in, “I signed my life away” standard. No matter! I had an apartment to move into and my stairs were going to be built and life was sababa!
The first snag came whenever I would ask the landlords when the stairs were being built. The answer was always either “next week” or “tomorrow” when in actuality they were not being built next week or tomorrow! A month before I had to move out, I was chilled about the situation, but as my eviction- from- ulpan date neared, I started to get a little panicked. The stairs were taking too long, the landlords said they were getting too pricey, there wasn’t enough room for them, and on and on the complaints mounted. All I wanted was to head up to bed at night without taking my life in my hands- was that too much to ask?! Add to this my whole “furnishing an empty box” situation- I had my closet and bed being delivered to a loft with only a rickety ladder! Finally one day, I came into the landlords’ store, two doors away from my apartment building and Mr. H had a big smile on his face. He told me to “go check upstairs” and I was absolutely gobsmacked! After weeks of waiting, my stairs were built with no fanfare and not even a word to me- a special surprise! I ran up the stairs and peered at the area where they should be but saw no stairs. Weird. Then I noticed something on the exact opposite side of the apartment. My stairs had been built, big and strong, on the wrong side!
I was a ball of emotions; confused, excited and ultimately horrified. Because, you see, the stairs had been built completely blocking the indentation in the wall meant to house my closet! Which would be delivered in 30 minutes!
I ran back down to the landlords and in a rush of Hebrew, English and tears, demanded to know how and why this happened. After no less than ten conversations dedicated to “the stairs situation”, why was the concept of putting the stairs on the other side of the room never mentioned? Why were they put up with no consultation with the person who would be using them? The landlords were shocked. They thought I would be happy! In a mixture of Hebrew, Farsi and tongue clicks, they assured me this was the best option. And in the midst of this chaos, my closet arrived! Except now it had no home, so it sat in the center of the apartment, one gigantic testament to the silliness of the stairs current location. The landlords tried valiantly to show me where my closet should now sit, but in such a small space, there is a place for everything and everything had it’s place. And the stairs had to be moved. My landlords, being the very sweet and well-meaning people they are, agreed to have the stairs moved, while still warning the construction crew to “never marry an American girl.” Touche.