THE TRAV­ELLER

Find­ing a bed for the night is like on­line dat­ing, says Dar­rel Bris­tow-Bovey

Getaway (South Africa) - - Contents -

This is why I don’t use Airbnb any more: be­cause Airbnb is like Tin­der. It’s a dat­ing app filled with fickle peo­ple, and those fickle peo­ple in­clude me. Last week I was look­ing for a place to stay in Am­s­ter­dam over their two weeks of sum­mer, so ho­tels were all pretty ex­pen­sive. I don’t re­ally like Airbnb – there’s some­thing too creep­ily in­ti­mate sleep­ing in some stranger’s bed on their linen, liv­ing the life they can’t re­ally af­ford oth­er­wise why would they be Airbn­bing it? But when you’re des­per­ate you look out­side your com­fort zone. Af­ter a de­press­ing half hour of mis­matched dates with un­suit­able flats, I found Oron’s apart­ment. It was well lo­cated and had a view over a canal. It did have a brown sofa and even browner car­pet combo that made me feel as sad as a Sun­day evening, but it was clean and Oron him­self seemed trust­wor­thy, de­spite his weird name. I sent a mes­sage and he replied straight away, warm and friendly. I was pleased to have found Oron. He didn’t set my heart rac­ing but we suited each other. I thought that I could learn to be happy with his place. Then, just as I was leav­ing, I idly clicked one more time. Bart-Jan’s apart­ment was more ex­pen­sive than Oron’s, with­out a canal view, but oh, the light stream­ing through the win­dows, and oh, the high ceil­ings and blond-wood floor­boards and that bed – that bed! – so wide and hand­some and crisply made with good new linen un­touched by any hand but mine. I saw my­self sprawled on that bed like a golden naked god. Each time I flicked be­tween Oron and Bart-Jan’s apart­ments, Oron’s seemed smaller, dowdier, sad­der. I had com­mit­ted to him, but look at Bart-Jan! Just look at him! He’s all high­lighted and sun-kissed and studly. His fix­tures set my heart aflut­ter. Bart-Jan is a catch! I won­der if he’s avail­able? My head said to stay true but my fickle heart was do­ing the danc­ing. I paid Bart-Jan and se­cured his flat. Ner­vously, ashamed, I wrote to Oron and told him that it wasn’t him, it was me, his place was great but it just wasn’t the place for me. I told him I was sure he’d find some­one who would love his flat for what it was, who wouldn’t al­ways be rest­less and look­ing at the door, won­der­ing who was in Bart-Jan’s bed right now. My friends warned me about Bart-Jan. They told me his flat was too good-look­ing and why was it avail­able any­way? Bart-Jan plays in a big­ger league, they said. You don’t know what you’re get­ting into. I didn’t lis­ten. We never lis­ten when the heart is in­volved. Oron replied to my Dear Oron let­ter. He was gra­cious and gen­tle. He told me he un­der­stood. He wished me well in my other apart­ment. He hoped I’d en­joy my stay in his city. ‘Maybe another time,’ he said, ‘when the cir­cum­stances are right.’ Jeez, Oron, stop grov­el­ling. Have some dig­nity. Try be more of a win­ner, like Bart-Jan and me. And then this morn­ing I woke and there was an email, sent at 3am. Af­ter ev­ery­thing, that’s how Bart-Jan chose to break up with me: a no­ti­fi­ca­tion that my book­ing had been can­celled and that if I wanted to re­quest another book­ing, the price had gone up. Bart-Jan, why?! I’m booked in a ho­tel now, which is where I should have been all along. I hurt a good man, and a bad man hurt me, and that is the ter­ri­ble cy­cle of abuse that will con­tinue un­til we all come to our senses and re­alise that the only good ac­com­mo­da­tion so­lu­tion is a thor­oughly im­per­sonal one.

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