I’ve lived in hostel twice now, both occasions more or less voluntary. For those unfamiliar, a hostel is basically a flophouse which costs more. The major difference between the two is that one has scruffy, half-drunk people who barely speak English wandering around at odd hours, whereas people in flophouses generally don’t own passports.
The first time I lived in a hostel (as opposed to passing through one) was when I first moved to Scotland. Castle Rock Hostel is at the base of Edinburgh Castle, so you can look out the window and see a castle on top of a dead volcano. They had long-term rates for people who stayed more than a month, and even a “posh lounge” wherein you could be drunk and pretentious next to a fireplace. I made a habit of hiding liquor in hip flasks at interesting locations throughout the posh lounge, some of which I have since forgotten the location of, much like a squirrel hiding nuts.
I made several friends at Castle Rock who I stay in touch with today. We had excellent conversations and explored the city together, and clicked very well. However there were other people I confess I did not care for.
One guy who lived in my room for a while tended to get drunk and pass out a few feet from the door, so that I’d have to step over him. I would have stepped directly on him, but he sometimes lost bowel control and leaked puddles of urine around him.
He had one of those smoking and drug-ravaged faces which, if excavated by a talented art restorer, could have revealed any age. He might have been forty, he might have been seventeen. We couldn’t tell. It sounded like he’d spent several years raking a cheese grater across his vocal chords, and for that we called him “Seniór Diablo.”
Presumably Seniór Diablo was at the hostel to throw off Interpol. What was fascinating about Senior Diablo was the entirely blasé attitude he had towards his debauched life. One morning I sat down in the communal room to eat some cereal and read The Telegraph. Seniór Diablo sat down next to me, opened up his laptop, then quietly watched porn over breakfast.
In New York housing is at a greater premium than in Scotland, so the hostels are smaller. For instance, when I first moved into one, the length of my body extended past the edge of the bed frame. The bunk bed itself was made of plywood and cleverly bolted to other planks of shaky plywood, so that if one of the four sleepers sneezed, the frames would mimic an earthquake and everyone would wake up.
Fortunately, my winning personality rescued me from what was basically a closet with mattresses. I got invited into a room inside of the hostel itself, and provided with a bunk bed which actually accommodates my body length and doesn’t wobble like a Jenga tower constantly. The people in the room are nice, and there’s also a kitten and a hermit crab.
The kitten is my favorite being in the hostel because she is cute and doesn’t judge me. So far I’m neutral on the hermit crab.
Sometimes I get to thinking about life decisions and grow anxious. I wonder when adolescent purgatory will finally crash into adulthood and I can swap living with someone’s hermit crab for a 401k.
Then I eat a hot pocket, wake up the kitten, and teach it cool tricks.
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