Roommates: The Good, the Bad, the One Who Eats [Raw] Potatoes Like They’re Apples

My niece messaged today that she’s moving, again. She’s in her twenties so moving seems like the normal course of events to me. From the time I graduated college until I turned thirty (about 6 years) I had 8 different addresses; and from thirty to forty it was another six moves. My friend Lynne finally got an address book that was dry-erase so that when my address changed she didn’t have to add another layer of whiteout or erase through to the next page.

In all that time I had a few roommates. For a long time it was my sister Judy. We did pretty well together for the most part; shared chores and kept a nice little home for ourselves. Our Christmas tree one year was filled with ribbon tied on the boughs because we couldn’t afford to buy a bunch of ornaments. It was meant to be economical but we called it “country” decorating. Once Judy and I even shared a winter rental down in Narragansett with a couple of her guy friends she’d worked with–that was a hoot. Boys and girls living together and sharing one bathroom…need I say more? And it’s not what you’d think; it was the men who took all the time (bathing in drakkar noir) in there!

When I was living in Connecticut I spent some time in a boarding house owned by a co-worker’s family. It was a nice bedroom with a private bathroom, a microwave, hot plate and dorm sized fridge, made it a cozy and the right price–but I needed a bit more space. Another woman I worked with had just bought a condo and was looking for someone to take over the lease in her apartment. She had a roommate who would still be there (we will refer to her as “L”). It was a huge place with two bedrooms and a double living room, how bad could it be?

It was the first time I lived with someone I didn’t know at all since my freshman year of college, and we all know how awkward that can get. L and I worked different shifts so didn’t see each other all the time and did very little together otherwise. I remember her being clear that her bedroom was “off-limits”; no problem, I can’t imagine what I’d go into the room for anyway. But one weekend when L was sick she asked if I could bring some soup in to her.

I knocked before I entered. The door didn’t budge at first, I really had to give it a good shove leaning into with my shoulder. At first glance you would think she wasn’t even in there, it looked as if a bomb made entirely of clothes and cups and bowls and paper, had exploded. This was all before Hoarders on TLC, so I didn’t even know what to name the unbelievable sight in front of me! Let’s just say that it’s a good thing there were two doors into the room. As I would come to know in the year we lived together, that was just the tip of the iceberg. Now I know everyone’s got quirks, but I think the thing that kind of grossed me out the most was when she’d sit and eat a raw potato as if it were an apple. She didn’t peel it or anything, just chomped right into it. So when she said she found a new place to live, I was not sad.

When L moved out it was the first time in my life I was actually living alone–all alone. And you know what? I LOVED it! I didn’t have a roommate again until I got married–which technically is not a roommate, I know, but you get the point.

Roommates are a good thing, whether they’re hoarders or neat freaks, gourmet cooks or Ramen noodle fans. They’ve been a part of my life for a reason and I’m grateful to have had them at the right time. Thanks, Roomies!

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