Moving back to Melbourne, Avery didn’t know how hard it would be to find a home …
The first house is on the edge of Thornbury and Northcote. The driveway pulls out onto a busy road. I know where the house is, when I first move in, because there’s a graffitied mattress across the street. My room is a sublet, mine for two and a half months until a friend of a friend gets back from South America.
I don’t click with a single house interview. I don’t have enough money to message most Fairy Floss posts. It’s a joke I bring up at parties, that I’ll be homeless come February, but I send more and more unanswered messages, lost in the wash of Melbourne home seekers. I think I’ve found a room. They pick a friend. I think I have another, but I turn out to be their second choice.
The second house is a terrace next to Edi Gardens where my ex’s old housemate’s girlfriend lives. There are lorikeets in the trees outside you can see them from the living room window which covers the entire back wall. I’ll never have enough money to own this house, but I can rent out a view of Fitzroy North trees. It’s a lonely time – no one’s ever home. It’s a leaky time, heavy Melbourne storms dripping from my light fixture. We tell the real estate agents. They do nothing. Two weeks later, I’m sitting on my bed when part of my ceiling gives. I spend the night in my housemate’s room. That’s the last night I sleep there – another housemate overdoses on drugs in the morning. His body is gone before I get home from work.
I realize it is something to talk about with a therapist, but I don’t have the money. At the very least, I was already thinking about moving out.
The third house is my ex’s. I move in that night, to the couch.
It took two and a half months to find house two. I need one, now, by yesterday at the latest.
The fourth house is a friend’s boyfriend’s. Their housemate is a DJ, on tour for two and a half months. In the bathroom, there is carpet that’s been there for years, but we can’t rip it up – the owners love it. Out the back, one housemate has two rabbits and an occasional dog, but the latter is from a recent breakup and spends most of her time with the ex – the closest my friends have come to shared custody of a child.
The jokes about being homeless aren’t funny anymore, not that they ever were. I’m offered a couple of houses, but I’m looking for a home.
The fifth, I find through Fairy Floss. I get along with the girl who lives there, and it’s been so long since I moved back to Melbourne that I ignore the mess. Come to find out, my room’s already lived in by mold. The fridge hasn’t ever been cleaned. The shower never stops dripping, is held together by wire and duct tape. You have to walk through the entire house and outside and back again to reach the toilet with its linoleum floor that’s peeling.
I tell everyone I need a room. I have an interview with friends of a friend, but there are many of those in Melbourne and they pick another.
House five and a half is my ex’s – I never take a shower or cook in the last one. I bath where I can, sometimes at uni. After I move, everyone gets kicked out.
I am anxious all the time.
House six is through another friend of a friend, working in Sydney for a month that turns into a week but I still get to stay. This is two blocks over from house one, on the Northcote side of the border. I live with her brother, his partner, and her sister. The living room is cozy, but I never use it. I feel like I’m intruding. The kitchen is my favorite space – the double door lets in garden breeze on sunny days. The yard’s filled with milk crates.
I have a new friend who mentions she’ll need to sublet when she goes to South America, if I still need a room then.
House seven is a two-week sublet in Preston. There are chickens and a small farm out back. The people share all their food and dumpster dive. They have a ladder so they can pop down into their neighbor’s yard like a sitcom. I like them all, and I never see a single one again.
I never get my bond back from house five. I still haven’t. I’d recently lost my job, and when I move, I get caught without a Myki but I’m crying, sitting with as much of my stuff as I can carry on one trip. They give me pass.
House eight is a month sublet in Fitzroy North. It has matching furniture. The housemates receive notice they’re getting kicked out while I live there.
I just need to make it to November.
House nine is in Fairfield where I live with friends who have decided to move, but they need someone for a month – their Fairy Floss couple was too horrible to put up with, even for a few weeks, so for four, I live in a home that is slowly dismantled and emptied.
Watching them move, it’s nice to own almost nothing.
House ten is my friend’s. I move in permanently almost two years after I moved back to Melbourne, and spend the summer weeding the garden and drinking on the roof. The walls are sagging and full of termites, and the lease is now month to month, but we all love its stained carpets and bric-a-brac left over from old housemates and the cat who we don’t own but who still spends all his time on his chair in the living room.
Avery is a writer busy looking at dogs on social media and taking naps.