We drove from Antwerp to Paris with giddy anticipation. We're going to find an apartment! we thought. A stringent search through the PAP website had yielded a "loft-like" studio close to 50 square meters, and it might work as a home and a place for D. to paint. The owner answered our email promptly, a first in our Paris Craigslist experience (have the French caught on to the wonder that is CL? In NYC I used the site to get my apartment, my bike, my language lessons, and pretty much the rest of my life).
We parked easily near the prospective score. A reggae shop near our destination was a good omen. The guy had given us the codes to the first and second locked doors, indicating we should go to building X. Is that like cellblock X? I'd worried, picturing a compound of large, identical high-rise monstrosities. I'd pushed those thoughts aside. We needed to check out every possible option. The front of the building was fine in an ordinary way, and we entered the interior walkway. Rows of windows faced each other, albeit not too closely. The hallway and stairs of bulding X looked old and ill-kept, but the 3rd floor apartment boasted double exposure and lots of light. Too bad the gauzy curtains would have to be kept closed to peering neighbors across the way. No oven. A raised bed. I silenced all my objections and answered, "Yes, I like it," to my husband's hopeful, questioning expression. I could see that he was thinking, "I can paint here!" and he'd already put the stamp of approval on it. So we left an extensive dossier with the owner, hoping that he didn't aspire to identity theft. Does he shred those papers afterward? I wondered desultorily. I decided it was best not to think about those things, either. Much less common here. I hoped.
Afterwards we drifted to a nearby comfy cafe, where the bartender waved us breezily to any open table. Clearly he failed to convey that to the waiter, who was perturbed by our meager order of two cafe cremes. He pressed his lips together and stopped shy of a full roll of the eyes. We didn't care. We were protected by twin cloaks of apathy; we'd have plenty of time to win him over with our new apartment down the street and all. We'd be there all the time. We'd be regulars. He'd welcome us with open arms. All we had to do was wait to hear from Mr. XXX, the owner. He'd winked at me as we left, a message I understood as, "It's all yours."
On Monday evening, D. got the email: "I've rented the apartment. Sorry."
Maybe that wink simply meant, "I'M all yours."