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  • Its a lot about real estate these days for me.

    Housing preference one: Three years ago, when I was applying for a position in a financial newspaper, I had to do an editing test. One of the tasks was editing a boring annual national statistics report about household expenses. My "twist" was to sum up the expenses on housing, and give the article the title "a Cross-classes preference: more then a third of the expanses of an average Israeli family goes for housing". I got the position, and ever since the I realise more and more how housing preferences dominate our life. Lately I quit the job and changed my housing preference. For the past two months I am a "couchsurfer" - a middle class homeless that sleeps on friends' couches to save rent money. In terms of my last apartment fees, I saved more than 10,000 shekels so far (about 2,000 euros). It's been 13 couches. 13 different places to see when waking up in the morning.

    Housing preference two: Thanks to the reduction in my expenses, I can allow myself to work less and have more free time. I strive to use these extra hours for promoting myself in my desired second career as political art curator. So last Wednesday, after waking up on couch number 12 in a roof-top in the heart of the Yemen part of Tel Aviv, I spent a day of inspiration with Nomi Aviv, a famous local curator. She's 64 years old, and says she still struggles every month with the rent. When we drove in the rain on the way back from her class in a southern collage, she told me a beautiful love story. It was about 40 years ago, when she ran away to Hawaii from a heart break, and met an American that fell in love with her. "He wanted to build me a house! In Alaska. He had a land there". It sounded so romantic. Who builds houses these days? These days it's taking mortgage, much less romantic term. Their romance didn't last more then a few months, and they lost touch soon after. She found him last May, after all these years, thanks to a letter he wrote to a local newspaper in his hometown, somewhere in Washington state. He told her she is still the love of his life and offered her to come and live with him there, as he lost his land in Alaska. She prefers to stay with her current boyfriend, a philosopher that lives in Paris. Next week the philosopher comes for a periodical visit in Tel Aviv, and first time they will stay together in her apartment. It will be the first time she preferes to live together with a man, even though there was no time in her life without a big love. It's a big thing to be able to declare that.

    Housing preference three: The next morning I woke up on couch number 12, had a breakfast with my hosts on their beautiful balcony overlooking the rooftops of the Yemen "slums", and went on to my job, that I love dearly, more than any job I had before. Thanks to the reduction in my housing expenses, I can allow myself to work as a nanny for only ten hours a week, instead of getting into a full time job routine. I pick up nine year old Romi from school three times a week, and spend a few hours with him. I don't like it when he gets stuck to the screen - computer, tv or ipod, and usually I succeed to keep him of it. That day I let go, and he spent the whole two hours playing a video game on the computer. It's a game of building worlds called "mine craft". I decided to observe and try to discover what he finds in it that attracts him so much. "I will build you a house!" he said enthusiastically. And then he asked me what materials I want him to use (glass), do I want a pool (of course!), how big should be the bed (four single size beds combined) and what pet do I choose (a fox). "Is this the house you always dreamed of having?" he asked when finished. Even though it was underground and didn't have any windows - I replied with a big yes, and thanked him. I can't say I understood what he likes about this game, but it was worth letting him play that day. He built me a house!

    Housing preference four: That evening I moved on to couch number 13, a tinny but cosy place on the market street above the good cheese place. When couchsurfing, it's important to stay on the move, not get used to one place too much. And was I lucky - it wasn't even a couch - I got to sleep on the bed, on a good mattress. My host spent the night at his girlfriend's place. He really wants to build her a house, metaphorically, but agrees to not even mention moving in together, as it scares her away.
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