The Tragedies of (Literally) Living in a Closet

Mar 28 at 6am

By Jules Suzdaltsev

It’s about time I come out of the closet.

Sorry, maybe I should’ve phrased that better; I’m not gay, it’s just that, ironically, living near the Castro has forced me into a 35-square-foot closet. The landlord who rented the six of us a squalid one bedroom single-family apartment four blocks north of Dolores Park described the two extra windowless rooms as “additional bedrooms.” I’ve now come to understand them as “places to vertically store additional beds,” and not as I originally thought as “humane living conditions fit for a person, or even, say, a monkey.” The utility closet-cum-bedroom is a common misunderstanding in the San Francisco housing game, I’m sure.

Said loft bed had promised to double my space with no mention of crippling my posture, ending my sex life, and instilling a nightly fear of death in a bed collapse. 

Don’t get me wrong, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. Like most San Franciscans crammed into spaces smaller than a maximum security prison cell, I had to make a choice: Do I want to own furniture, display my Beanie Baby collection, engage in sexy tickle fights, and maintain a will to live, or do I want to pay under $800 a month for housing in the city’s second dirtiest neighborhood? While my tech counterparts are busy hemorrhaging cash in exchange for their 3,000-square-foot studios at the peak of the Transamerica tower, I’m nursing a series of cuts, bumps, and bruises from the low ceiling of my space-saving loft bed. Said loft bed had promised to double my space with no mention of crippling my posture, ending my sex life, and instilling a nightly fear of death in a bed collapse. On the other hand, my triceps are beefy as ever from lifting myself in and out of bed.

Instead of continuing to play the guitar, piano, bass, and drums, I’ve switched to mastering the world’s tiniest violin.

After living in conditions that would count as animal abuse if I were a pet rat, I’ve had to learn to adapt. I don’t eat foods that contribute to morning diarrhea anymore, as the old adage goes: If you’re climbing up a ladder and you feel something splatter… stop living in a loft bed past puberty and eating street tacos. Instead of continuing to play the guitar, piano, bass, and drums, I’ve switched to mastering the world’s tiniest violin, although I do have to lend it out whenever a sad but overblown story is being told. I mean, there’s only one world’s tiniest violin. Finally, instead of dance hall favorites like raising the roof, fist pumping, and throwing my hands in the air and waving them like I just don’t care, I’ve instead been listening to Brahms, Schubert, and Dane Cook to curb my involuntary dance moves.

I think the last straw was when I discovered that my monthly rent per square foot in the piss-smelling Mission District is 36 times that of my parents’ monthly mortgage for a gated McMansion in the Los Angeles suburbs. They don’t even have neighbors bumping Pitbull so loud you can feel it in your teeth. And while I decide whether I’m moving to Oakland, New York, Los Angeles, Portland, or Miami (Pitbull really does make it sound nice), I wonder if I’d be able to bring back some sort of medication for my friends. Someone’s gotta find the antidote for all the people who can’t stop telling me “It’s really not that bad, I mean, you’re paying for the neighborhood!” when I could be paying this money to lease two Priuses to halve my carbon footprint. Either way, I gotta get out of this closet.

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