“If you asked me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” ~ Anonymous
June 10, 2011, I moved out of my apartment where I lived alone for close to two years.
I haven’t had good roommate experiences – at all. I’ve lived with so many people over the years and my best were ex-boyfriends and a guy friend of mine. For whatever reason, I haven’t been able to live with other women.
I am a clean freak, I like things to be left in their place and I respect other people’s property – things previous roommates didn’t comply with. Also, out of fairness, I’m difficult because I am definitely the Queen Bee of my home.
So after two difficult roommates in Chapel Hill and plenty of bad experiences behind me, I chose to find a place by myself.
It was amazing to come home to my mess, not to worry about someone touching my private things, taking my stuff, not paying rent or any of the other horrible roommate possibilities – and believe me, I’ve had most of them. Pyscho roommate is about the only one I haven’t had….well, never mind.
I’d decided to move to New York City and attend CUNY Graduate School of Journalism after I graduate this coming December, and I knew my lifestyle had to change. I needed to save. I searched through ads for months, emailing random people, having coffee with strangers, and finally I found one.
Her ad seemed too good to be true, and in some ways it was. A three bedroom house where rent would be $275 if we had three roommates, but I was determined to talk her into two. She seemed open to it.
If you know anything about Chapel Hill – you know it is NOT a cheap place to live. We spent several weeks emailing back and forth, and then finally we met.
I was blown away. She has several piercings on her face, a mohawk and smokes. She isn’t the type of girl I would normally hang out with, not because I think anything negative about it, just because it’s not the circle I am around. I went through similar times, but I was younger.
But Z (I’m going to call her) and I ordered our coffee and a few hours later realized we’d been lost in conversation about everything but the house. She is amazing and brilliant. She’s a double major at UNC with a minor, and she wants to be a Rabbi. She’s heavily involved in activists groups on campus for the LGBT, and holds two jobs. Again, she blew me away.
This was my first step outside my comfort zone. Originally, I felt what mattered most was that I live with other students who are focused and don’t party much. Other than that, I really didn’t have a preference.
This is what I told myself. And sure that sounds good of me, but I don’t know how true it was.
But I loved talking to Z, and felt comfortable in her presence. I knew we were different in our style of dress and outerwear, but our minds had no problem speaking.
Hesitant, but wanting to be open, I told myself it would be fine. Over the next few weeks I received news from Z that another girl would be moving in. Actually she asked me if it was okay. As I read the message my heart was pounding, “Two, TWOO roommates!!!” I wanted to say, “NO!” But I thought about saving money, and I thought about living with two girls….ehhhh, allllright?
So I agreed, and began preparing myself mentally. To make an extending story short, a few other surprises came my way. I didn’t go to see the house I was moving to until the day before. I’d seen a picture and Z told me it had been remodeled recently.
When I drove to my new house I had no idea what to expect, but I didn’t expect anything I saw. Older homes, broken windows, high grass, trash, old automobiles….and then our house. The picture had been the house by itself, but in fact there is a row of them – brick squares all down the block, and the “house” is not a house, it’s a duplex.
I don’t know if it was hormones or just fright, but I was immediately hit with the comparison of where I was living to where I would be living. My now old neighborhood is beautiful, gorgeous lawns, nice homes, and it’s very safe. I ran at night without fear and knew the cops that circulated the area if a problem were to arise.
I drove home frantically and called the police department to find out the crime statistics of the neighborhood (yes, I do that), and there are assaults, domestic violence and missing persons reports on file for just this year. WIth my mind racing I sat down and texted Z, but no matter what I said she was calm. Calm Z.
In a reassuring tone she told me she was used to this type of neighborhood and it would be fine. She also said she completely understood if I decided I didn’t want to move in – there would be no hard feelings.
I was flipping out, and she was calm. Calm Z. Hahaa…
Her calm and confidence helped me to calm down and think about it from a more realistic view. Worst case scenario I could move out if I didn’t feel safe, but how could I miss out on living in such a cheap place with such seemingly cool people?
The prospect of doing something I hadn’t done was kind of exciting. And “come onnn” I said to myself, “I am moving to NYC – who knows where I will end up living”….so I did.
I’ve only been living in my new “Hippy House” (as I call it) for about three weeks, but I am changing. I am dealing with sharing a small amount of space with two people, who aren’t as tidy as I am, a cat who seems obsessed with taking down my gorgeous plants, and a single bathroom for all of us.
We are figuring out how to share space, realizing who’s the cleanest (ME!) and who’s not, and have already successfully made it through our first big problem.
I love the way it’s slowly healing me.
My past roommate issues left me scarred and feeling like I was the inadequate one. It didn’t matter what they did, I felt it was my fault for making a bad choice. I thought I wasn’t any good at communicating my feelings when I got upset or wasn’t good at waiting a second to breathe before getting angry. And I didn’t think I could be so open-minded and accepting of what’s going on around me.
I am a self-proclaimed control freak. I admit it. But most of the time I can keep it to a minimum, because I always see the havoc it wreaks in my life when it takes over.
I love that I see my neighbors on their porches or in the street. There is a house of Mexican men down the road, and while the lawn is covered in trash, they regularly cover the porch with their instruments and singing. I love waving to the older women who sit outside as I go by – they look so happy regardless of the way their lawn looks.
I rarely saw my neighbors in my last neighborhood.
Our house has much easier access to campus, so I bought a bike and am riding it to class. I arrive hot and sweaty, but it feels good. It feels freeing. I feel like a kid.
I love coming home to a houseful of people hanging out on the porch – even though they are smoking. I love that Z loves to bake and fills the kitchen with pumpkin and chocolate. And I love being forced to smile and say hello in the morning – before my coffee.
I love that I am healing in this crazy process of change. If you’d asked me a year ago about living with two girls I would’ve laughed at you. But being open to life, being open to change is amazing and I am reaping some incredible benefits.
I’m so thankful for what I have been given…