Now’s the time to look for living accommodations for next year—and, boy, is it stressful! Not every apartment will be right for you. Some will lack natural light, others will exclusively have windowless rooms, like a dungeon of sorts. Not ideal. That’s why I am pleased to announce that I have finally signed a lease (which was by no means an easy journey). It was so difficult that it made combatting hypothermia at Igloofest look like a walk in the park. But it’s how I met him.
His name was Vito and he was giving us a tour of an apartment he was leasing. Yes, Vito is my landlord. I was with some of my best friends. He was with his closest confidante and arguably Montreal’s most eligible bachelor: Frank, the contractor handling the renovations in the unit below us. Sure, we bantered casually, but I could have never predicted the spark that would be ignited between us.
After the tour, my soon-to-be roommates and I headed outside and debated whether we could look past the minor rat infestation that drove out the previous tenants. That’s when my friend Suhani proposed the bet that would change my life completely. She told me, “if you can make Vito fall in love with you in 10 days and get him to lower the rent, we’ll all sign the lease.”
Little did I know that back inside the apartment, Vito was having a similar conversation with Frank. Later I would find out that Frank had wagered Vito the following: “If you can make the especially short, crazy-eyed one fall in love with you in 10 days, you can upcharge her on her lease.” The gears had been set in motion.
In the beginning, we were always trying to trick one another. What did we know? We didn’t get each other yet. Vito took me to IKEA on our first date. As we strolled through a row of sensible desks, I mentioned how lovely it would be to get the apartment fully furnished at no additional cost. He tucked a loose strand of hair behind my ear and whispered, “the place is no longer utilities-included.”
That day at IKEA, I felt our relationship shift. It was becoming real. He bought me IKEA meatballs and held my hair back when I immediately threw them up. I learned he was the most caring man I’d ever meet, and he learned that I have an aversion to ground beef.
Before too long, Vito and I would regularly spend hours together scrolling through Facebook Marketplace. We wrote ads for his four-bedroom in the Plateau. Hand-in-hand, we would dream up how we could lie about the distance from campus and get away with it. We watched Property Brothers and joked about how they would never be as in love as we were. We were falling for each other. And fast.
Suddenly, I couldn’t bear to look into his sparkling, muddy eyes anymore. I needed to tell him the truth—that I’d been trying to get him to lower our rent this whole time but fell in love in the process.
When I finally confessed, Vito admitted his own plot, too. Both upset, we agreed that if our love was meant to be, we would meet at the top of Mount Royal at midnight to sign the lease. If not, we would unfriend each other on Letterboxd and end this fever dream forever.
Time stood still as I waited for Vito at the top of the mountain—kind of like how it feels when it’s the other person’s turn in Scrabble. I was prepared to leave when I finally saw him with a bouquet of roses and an envelope of lease papers in his beautiful hands. Forgiveness. We embraced each other and signed, gently weeping on each others’ shoulders and taking pictures of our respective IDs for security purposes.
Without this unpredictable house-hunting experience, Vito and I would have just been two strangers at opposite ends of Milton-Parc, almost meeting, but never really seeing each other.
So basically, the place is a four-bedroom, one-bath. No extra cost for laundry and hydro, but we have to figure out WiFi.