“This new girl is moving into the vacant room today. German. She seems relaxed.”
My flatmate had this laid-back approach with everything. Everything was always either chill or relaxed. It didn’t seem to mean much. But somehow this time I trusted his word for it.
“Good to know!” I replied. “It’s about time…”
We lived in a student housing complex on a corridor of 18. Four of the rooms were permanently reserved for foreign students. This is of course a good thing. Every student should be able to get a room so they can focus on what they need to focus on. Many foreign students make great flatmates, but another chunk makes for pretty boring shared living. We had had a particularly bad streak of foreign flatmates that were rather timid and shy. Some, no, most of them would generally avoid their flatmates in the corridor rather than come out and spend time together in the shared living spaces.
A German girl that seemed relaxed sounded like a welcome improvement.
I continued my way down towards my room, which was located at the end of the T shaped corridor, overlooking the dark hallway in the direction of the front door, which was located at the base of the T. I liked having the overview room. I’m too curious. I always had an open door policy. People could always walk in, and I could always look out through the open door.
My room was an odd, but interesting place. A kitchenette, a tall fridge, book shelves, a bed, a large desk, and my collection of bird skeletons, ball python and pit viper enclosures lining the walls. All of it somehow stuffed into a space of twelve square meters. There was barely any room to walk. Not that there was much walking going on in there. My room was not a popular hangout. I didn’t often receive guests that stayed very long, let’s put it that way. Female guests were a particularly rare kind. Let’s say I was never very good at these things. Or maybe it was the snakes? Maybe both.
Later that day, as I was working on some study project, I heard the front door open. A German young lady, accompanied by an older lady that was later introduced to me as her mother, walked in, carrying DIY materials. The new girl, clearly ready to put her personal mark on the new room. I think a new floor was in the making, and they were going to paint a bunch.
Her room was also located at the top of the T. There was no avoiding me. Not that she seemed to want to.
“Hi, I’m Heike,” she said with a beautiful smile, as she stood in my door opening. “I moved into the empty room. This is my mother.”
“Uh, hi. Nice to meet you! I’m Robin. We’ll be neighbors then. Good to have you here, we’ve had a bit of a bad streak of boring neighbors in that room, so it was time for some better spirit.”
We had chatted for a bit, talking about what we studied and such, when she asked me about the inhabitants of my snake enclosures. She had been observing my odd space, and what was seen could not be unseen. I have been conditioned to take this as a bad sign. People are not interested in your pets, Robin. Hide them, or they’ll be hiding from you. It was too late to hide. There was no backing out this time. That much was clear. “I have some snakes,” I said, hesitating. “Oh, that’s nice.” She called her mother to come and have a look. Before I knew it I has the first two women ever in my life pay interest in my hobby. What a weird turn of events.
I remember her mother’s reaction very well. Dutch, with a very German accent. “Interesting!” I noticed from her questions and their behavior that it was sincere.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to arrange all of it yet, but I think I knew then and there that one day I would have to marry this young woman. The daughter, that is. The mother would have to settle for a place as mother-in-law, but I think she was okay with that.