This article originally appeared on VICE Romania.
Two years ago, I moved into a two-bedroom apartment in Bucharest with two girls from school. The place was in a rough state: I had to use Coca-Cola to get the grime off the walls and piping. There was something that looked like blood in the fridge's vegetable drawer and on the mattress. The former owners had also left some of their stuff in a cupboard, but we weren't allowed to throw anything out because the bank had foreclosed on the apartment, and we were renting it in the meantime. So instead of throwing it out, I decided to take pictures of it. All the pictures below—unless stated otherwise—are of things I found in that cupboard.
Since I was sure I wasn't the only one who'd ever come across dildos and x-rays left behind by former owners or renters, I asked some of my friends in Bucharest what they've dealt with in the new places they'd moved in to.
"My boyfriend and I moved into a studio flat in the Dristor area of Bucharest in April 2014. The owner was a retired cabbie, who was weirdly interested in us—he even asked me what schools my parents had gone to. I have this habit of flipping my mattress twice a year, and because I didn't expect the owner to have done that, my boyfriend and I decided to flip the mattress before we did anything else. That's how we came across a used condom under the mattress near the top of the bed.
We guessed it probably wasn't the owner's. I figured it had belonged to this girl in one of my economics classes, who I knew used to live there before me. I can see her having one last fuck with her boyfriend before moving, out but marking her territory with it. It had to have been done on purpose—I don't see how you'd spontaneously lift your mattress and leave a used condom there, forgetting about it afterward. I faked a spine condition to the owner and convinced him to buy me a new mattress."
"I was studying at University College London when I moved to a studio in Shepherd's Bush in 2011. A woman in her fifties or sixties we called Angie took care of the floor I lived on. When I had a first peek under the bed, I found a collection of English vintage porn rags. About ten or fifteen of them—all from 1952, '53, or '55. The babes in the magazines were all pretty well-clad. One lady with blond curly hair and enormous tits stuck with me especially—she wore a black one-piece bathing suit and lay stretched out on the beach in the English seaside. I took the mags to Angie, who only had one thing to say: 'Oh my!' There had been a philosophy major living before me, so it kind of figures."
"About five years ago, I moved out of my mum's place and into a three bedroom flat some of my friends were renting. The flat belonged to a girl who had moved abroad—it was actually her parents' place, who had died. When we started refurbishing, we found a small closet in the living room that none of my flatmates had opened yet. In it, was a photo album with very old black-and-white photos. There were a lot of kids in the pictures, and I'm guessing they were of a traditional Christian Orthodox christening. Most pages had two or three photo's on them, one had a lock of brown hair scotch taped on it. We threw it away—the girl didn't mind at all."
"In 2014, I moved out of the dorms I had been living in for four and a half years and into an old villa in Bucharest. Some friends of mine had lived there before some other friends, and I moved in. In the attic, we found a box full of foam peanuts, there to protect an enormous glass bong. It was unclear which generation of renters before us it had belonged to, but we carried on its tradition and kept it around the house.
Earlier this year, I moved to a beautiful house in another district. It belonged to a lady in her fifties, who teaches physics in Germany. In her bedroom, we found a teddy bear—stuffed with the exact stuff your worst nightmares are made of. It's still where we found it, sitting on a cupboard in her bedroom, staring into the darkest corners of your soul. I don't usually go into her room, but I know it's there. It'll probably be there for many, many years to come."
"I moved to a new flat in 2014, because I wanted to be closer to school. The place belonged to a woman in her forties, who had left the country a while before. In her bedroom closet, I came across some whips that seemed to have been used extensively—their ends were worn out. I threw them out and never brought it up.
When I moved to a different flat last spring, I found something from a completely different order in an apartment that belonged to an elderly couple. When I tried to rearrange the furniture in the bedroom, I found a pile of vomit behind the bed. It was completely dried up—must've been left there about two days before. I just gave the place a thorough cleaning—I didn't really know what else to do."
"In 2014, I decided it was time to move in with my boyfriend of three months. He had lived there with his ex before—a fact I was confronted with when I was hanging my clothes in his closet and came across a girly bathrobe, some tops, and socks. Elsewhere in the apartment, I found some photos of a girl in sunglasses in the back of a drawer full of Kinder egg toys.
The photos and the toys all belonged to his ex—who he had been done with for six months. My boyfriend said he never noticed that stuff was there, and I believe him. I threw everything of hers out, and I made a mental note that if I ever moved out like she did, I'd keep everything I left at his flat in one place, so the next girl wouldn't have to go through all that hassle. But my boyfriend and I have been quite inseparable."
"Two years ago, I went back to university in London after my summer holiday. I moved to a new place in Forest Gate, owned by a very short, very arrogant guy. The flat was new and perfect but one day I had to go to the basement to fix a power outage. When I came down, I saw a used mattress, a pram, and six huge plastic bags filled with kids' toys. There was also a painting on the wall with writing in Arabic on it. When I came back some time later, there were more cobwebs there, but it seemed like there were also more bags of stuff."
"This year, I've been looking to buy a property, and I found a place I wanted to check out in Bucharest. A real estate agent gave me a quick tour of the house, but I explored on my own while she was on the phone. I knew a lady had died in this flat, but I didn't expect to find all her things in the bathroom. There was an old, striped orange shirt with a pattern straight from the Communist era on it hanging on the door—but old as it was, it looked spotless. The whole bathroom looked like she could come back at any moment. It was creepy and beautiful, and I don't think the agent saw it. I didn't end up buying the place—I might have, if not for that shirt."