Ever since I’ve moved out from my parents’ house to go to college at the ripe age of sixteen, I’ve lived with roommates.
As an introvert who needs space from people, a mini-OCD freak who likes to live in an orderly fashion, a wannabe chef who cleans as she goes and never leaves dirty dishes in the sink, and early bird who goes to bed early, I’ve always made sure that I lived with people to learn to adapt, work on compromising and generally not turn into a nutcase who talks to herself because she’s alone all the time.
I won’t say that living with just over twenty different roommates in the last baker’s dozen of years has been easy. I’ve struggled with being sensitive to the needs of others, drawing lines, communicating my needs, avoiding being passive-aggressive, or just plain passive, and ultimately with my attitude.
I saw firsthand how being a roommate with someone can transform your friendship into something more like family. There’s something very special about living with your true friends in college – in my case I was lucky because these five women became my best friends, confidants and lifelong sisters. I’ve been in all of their weddings (well, I know I’ll be in my twinnie’s wedding when she gets married abroad, but only after she meets Mr. Right).
Living with friends certainly tests your friendship. If you are both very similar, particularly in your cleanliness habits and hours of being awake, things can work very well indeed. If you have the same taste in trashy tv shows (Bachelorette anyone?) and well made foreign films that make you think… well that’s your built-in date for Friday night, isn’t it?
Living with friends has also come very close to destroying strong friendships. The friends who are just like you sometimes annoy the living daylights out of you because YOU are the bossy one – YOU want to decide which poster of the Marilyn Monroe should grace your living room. And when both of you have strong opinions about everything, well there’s certainly room for friction.
Sometimes the main reason that your friendship works is because you are so different. And those differences may work in the real world when you have time away from each other, but when you live together, and one of you considers 10pm to be late, and the other’s night doesn’t begin until 1am!
Same thing with the amazingly laid-back best friend who keeps you from having a rod up your behind for too long, but who has the nasty habit of leaving half-full glasses of milk under a pile of unwashed laundry for a week … or two, until you go on a scavenger hunt to find out whether there is indeed a dead squirrel in your room.
I’ve also lived with wonderful friends who may not have made the best roommates, with incredibly inconsiderate people, thieves, murderers and scurvy (just kidding!!!!).
I’m not kidding when I say that I’ve seen it all! I’ve had to survive sharing a space with a cat with fleas, live in a cockroach-infested neighborhood (which was made worse by a roommate who left crumbs EVERYWHERE!), find out that my roommate hung up all of her clothes in my closet because her closet “wasn’t very big.”
Who hasn’t dealt with roommates who eat your food, use your things without cleaning them, lose things they “borrow” without asking? Who hasn’t had to stalk a roommate to make sure they paid their rent, or Fabreeze your apartment after a roommate’s boyfriend wreaking of pot sat in your favorite chair for three hours? Who hasn’t walked into their roommate and her boyfriend naked on the couch, or watching porn?
Who hasn’t had to wake up to the distinct sound of someone throwing up violently, and then have to smell it every time you get up to pee? Who hasn’t found a pair of sneakers in their freezer – well this one happened to a dear friend, but I got to see the sneaky bastards next to the gelato first hand.
Who hasn’t snuck out at 2am to change the temperature on the thermostat to avoid freezing in the winter, or dying of cold from the AC in the summer? Who hasn’t considered just breaking the thermostat to beat the other roommate to it? (Hold on, I actually need to adjust the ‘stat while my roommate is showering right now… ok! Got it!)
Obviously, all of these things have happened to me, and I’ve often wondered what I’ve learned from all of this.
Well…. you’ll have to wait until Wednesday for the lessons I’ve learned!! Particularly on what to do when your roommate puts sneakers next to your gelato, or even worse, finishes the last of your gelato on Shark Week.
Can you relate with any of these roommate stories? Tell us about what’s happened to you!
Please comment, share your thoughts and let me know what you think. Please help me keep this a positive forum, though. I am so excited for some debate, but let’s respect each other please. I reserve the right to monitor and delete inappropriate posts. Thanks in advance!