Monday, May 15, 2006

All By Myself

I can smell the incense burning in her bedroom. The bedroom that used to be my office. Her boyfriend is in the bathroom brushing his teeth. Not her, the other her. There are two of them, here in my home, watching Bobby Brown sing Every Little Step on The Tyra Banks Show. Actually, as of April 20 it's our home. All three of us, one big happy family.

When I graduated college and moved out of my parents home into my very own apartment I loved it so much that I vowed I would never live with another soul again until I got married. I eventually bought a three bedroom house for me and me alone. I loved the privacy and autonomy of living alone. If there was a mess, it was my mess and I could clean it up or leave it there as I saw fit. Nudity in the living room was more than allowed, it was required. And my business was mine all mine. Even when the house felt too big for just me and I longed for company, it was always of the tall dark man variety, perfect for snuggling on the couch.

Then fate brought the Curly Haired Stick Figure into my life. Fast friends, we spent an exorbitant amount of time together, mostly at my house. Sleepovers were common and before long my couch doubled as her bedroom (the bed in the guest bedroom was broken...and no not from THAT. Get your minds out the gutter). When her lease was up and she moved in with a friend, all of her belongings that wouldn't fit in her new place were stored in my basement. Even with a change of address, she was a permanent fixture on my couch. And I can't complain. I enjoyed having her here. When she would leave for a few days at a time there was a definite void. I missed her presence, the jokes, laughter, food, and friendship.

One day it became more than obvious to both the Stick Figure and I, that for all intents and purposes we were roommates. While technically she still lived with her other friend, 90% of her belongings resided at my house and she slept here darn near every night. The only thing she didn't have was her own personal bedroom, since the guest room didn't have a viable bed. In order for her to feel at home, I knew she needed a place all her own. One where she could shut the door and relax. So to give her that peace, I fixed the guest bed, bought new sheets and turned the guest bedroom into Stick Figure's bedroom.

I liked to think of us as accidental roommates. It wasn't planned, it just happened, but it worked. Together we ravaged the living room, dining room and kitchen, and together we cleaned them up just to do it all over again. When one of us would get sick of the clutter, we cleaned up, making the other feel obligated to help out. I would tell people that the Curly Haired Stick Figure was the only person I could have as a roommate.

But then I spoke too soon. Our mutual friend the Curly Haired Munchkin, a recent college grad, needed a place to live when living with the parental units proved to not be the ideal situation. Technically, I was sitting on an extra bedroom. But I didn't look at it that way, since that bedroom was my office. But after careful consideration, I figured that giving up the room could be mutually beneficial to both of us. Munchkin could get out from under her parents' roof and I could get a bit of extra rent money. Sure, the walls in the "big" house seemed to close in, making the space a million times more cramped the moment I said yes, but I figured that was all in my head. The Munchkin agreed to move my office into the back den for me and also pay for installing all the phone and internet hookups I'd need to reestablish my work area.

I came home from vacation three weeks ago to find my office was no longer and her bedroom had been resurrected in its place. Walking past the dining room, my desk greeted me in the cubby hole that was once a dumping ground for errant furniture, junk mail, exercise equipment, and sundry other crap. I felt cramped, the couch placed too close to my desk, and the exercise balls I rarely use squeezed into a corner.

Today I came home to a clean house. The mail that usually littered the dining room table was now in a pile in my office. The shoes I left under the table were placed on the steps leading up to my bedroom. The message was loud and clear. "Put your shit away!" The kitchen was wiped clean and my beautiful quesadilla maker had a new home on top of the refrigerator, a Brita water filter having taken its place on the countertop. Then, I went to the bathroom. My beautiful duck decor was traded in for pink bath rugs and a matching shower curtain. I thought to myself, "Now wait just a damn minute. First ya'll clear off MY dining room table. Then you clean MY kitchen and move MY quesadilla maker. Now ya'll have the audacity to redecorate MY bathroom! Aww hell NO!!"

Then it hit me, when I agreed to let them move in, I made this our home. That bathroom is just as much theirs as it is mine, no matter who's name is on the property deed. Their Brita water filters have just as much right to counterspace as my quesadilla maker. Just because I bought the TV, doesn't mean I have the right to control what's on 24/7. And my shoes no longer have a home underneath our dining room table. I can't say that the changes have been easy for me to take. After almost three years of living with me, myself, and I, I'd gotten used to answering to no one else. There are definitely times when I get sick of the weary looks from the Stick Figure because I insist on spending hours in front of the computer, either blogging, bullshitting, or trying to write the next sentence in my great American novel. And I definitely can't stand when the Munchkin's morning routine wakes me up before my internal alarm. But despite all of my roommate reservations, I like having them here. The house feels full and warm. Yes, there are still days when I would love to enjoy all the perks of living alone. I haven't walked naked through this house in ages, nor have I brought anyone home because I have a house all to myself (but first I'd need someone to bring home, so that's a moot point). But it's an even trade to get to live with two fabulous women who complement me, always know where I left my keys or my glasses, eat the extra food in the basement, and help me keep the house semi neat. Well at least for the first two days of the week.

25 comments:

Sangindiva said...

This was a great post :)
It gave me a glimps into your writing style-
although I am not a writer in the novel sense of the word, I am an avid reader and can tell I would like your
book from the easy way your post reads.
Thank you for stopping by my page and leaving a comment- it lead me to your fabulous blog which I will be sure to read again!

jailbait said...

Those must be some strong women, b/c after a WEEKEND with you I'm ready to choke ya. But seriously, yeah, you can really work someones nerves. I'm glad that you found some good company though.

I'm in a 3 bedroom house also, but I cannot imagine living with anyone else. I love doing EVERYTHING naked, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. I cook, iron, watch TV, do my hair, talk on the phone, etc...in the nude, and its great! It gets lonely sometimes, like once a week, but I'll just pick up a phone and run my mouth for a little while...that usually helps.

FLS said...

HOUSE GUESTS

A certain 5'10, female of African heritgae came to my shabby chic Harlem apt, for a couple of (5) days with a blow out Afro and a pair of adult footies.

For the uneducated...Footies were the rave when we were CHILDREN. It was a woollen one-piece get-up equipped with zipper and plastic feet. (some models had a butt flap)

If you had linoleum floors growing up. Footies were the shit.

Now imagine adult footies...imagine seeing them all day and all night...for five days straight.

Diane Mandy said...

My best gal invited me to move in with her after I divorced. I thought that living in another person's home would feel awkward, but she made me feel right at home. Turned out to be a great experience for both of us as our already close friendship grew even closer. In fact, we both cried the day I bought my own place. Thanks for sharing. I am enjoying your blog and your writing!

The said...

Enjoy the moment. One day, when you're picking up your husband's dirty draws and chasing screamin' kids that just broke a piece of your prized crystal, you will look back with longing on these days.

Anonymous said...

g...chasing those kids with a belt!

Jodi said...

I don't even know how you OWN a home let alone share it with anyone! I've come to realize I can only live alone or with a lover, and that's it. So if you can live through roommates, you can live through anything! ~Jodi

NegroPino™ said...

LUV the blog. Easy reading. Ill be back..come visit....

Lynn said...

This is so natural--glad it worked out. Things like this are meant to be. Thanks for your comments--I am a terrible commenter but am always reading.

K said...

Wonderful post. The roomies are creeping in, and with that comes good and bad.

I'm amazed that you bought a house by the way--really, amazed.

I have three roommates and not an inch to myself around the apartment, but I'm okay with it for the most part because we all have an equal stake. It's got to be rough to have a place of your own that becomes "ours"--especially when it's not a signifigant other, but friends.

Kind of nice that they clean though. Bring back the ducks!!

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

I've had my share of roommates in my life. I know how it is.

But I have to say one thing... redecorating the bathroom without telling you is not cool. Things like that have to be at least discussed with everyone before they are done. Especially when the person is the original owner of the place.

But if you're cool with it, no harm done. I'm a man, and I probably wouldn't care about the bathroom decor.

aquababie said...

i think i would have to say something about the bathroom. you just don't redecorate with asking first :)

chris said...

nice post.
I miss having room mates:(
Now it's just me and my cocker spaniel.

Anonymous said...

Glad they can deal with you..because i'd kill you! :) You know we have a 4 day limit before the maddness begins..hahahah. love ya

DM said...

I'm buying a house. And what you described is a bridge I have yet to even think about crossing.

You are a great writer with an awesome "name". I'll be back!

clew said...

Hey there Cheetarah! Thanks for your visit the other day on my blog. I've pooped back over a few times but havent left a comment yet. At least I dont think so ... ;)

I'll be back again - hope to see you at my place too - you're always welcome!

(Co-living *is* a challenge - But good for you, for the attitude you have towards sharing your environment)

Dirk the Feeble said...

Incense and toothpaste is a great fragrance . . .

kat said...

You are a better person than I am. I can't give up my walking around the house butt ass naked, so I live alone.

Well, alone with an 85 lbs dog. I'm freaking out about the 2nd 85 lbs dog that will be arriving June 1 and the "redecorating" that comes along with him!

Mocha_Grl said...

Nice post.

The roommate thing has it's share of good and bad. I live with two other women myself and while most days I love having people to come home to, love being able to give the rundown minutes after a date, and love sharing responsibilities (not to mention rent). There are times where you just need your space!

Thanks for stopping by my page!

naive-no-more said...

Your blog reads so smoothly. I like that.

Cece said...

2 things
1.Where do you buy adult footies?? Why would anyone even make them? What are they made of? How much do they cost? As everyone can see I'm really amazed by the footies.
2. My only expreience living with other girls was nice. We weren't friends so much as roomates so it was kinda weird... but I could never imagine living alone. I mean I get scared of my own shadow at night. Nobody else gets freaked out?? I guess thats one of those times where you find out what youre made of...

Chesty aka Rebelioness said...

I'm with jailbait, I'd be ready to strangle you after a day or two. Why, you ask? Because you don't know how to put shit back where you found it, or where they BELONG! I've never known someone to literally walk out of their pants and leave them there for DAYS. Nor someone that wears your beloved Via Spigas and carelessly kicks them off at the front door! Never have I turned around so quickly after I've cleaned up (after you and myself) just to find clothes over the ironing board, accessories littered everywhere, and just MESS MESS MESS! You're a clutter box. And as for the computer/internet obsession, it's quite annoying! The only reason I didn't bitch this weekend is b/c I was too tired! That and my sister seems to think I'm mean to you! (Perish the thought)!

Now, I would definitely have had a problem with the moving of the quesadilla maker and the redecorating. See...I'm very possessive and your ass would've had to put the Brita elsewhere. And as for redecorating? If that was the original decoration, maybe I wouldn't care; but if you just take it upon yourself to play Martha Stewart, it's a wrap! Yes, they live their, but I wouldn't say it was their home! If the shit burned down, they'd find another place, and your ass would be the one homeless and stuck with repairs. I digress...

BTW, FLS, she's 5'11 and a quarter inches tall. Don't let her ass fool you into thinking she's shorter than me! =D

~Deb said...

I never shared an apartment or house with anyone before, other than my girlfriend (who's my partner) ...

People always ask me, "Well isn't hard to live with another woman?"

I don't know if it's any different than living with a man, other than the raging estrogen that overtakes the household with fierce PMS and the occasional outburts---but I guess it's all the same.

It's great that you acknowledged that it's "all your home"-----and accepted that it's okay to have their things along with yours.

It's great when you can get along with your roommates---and it seems as though you're happy with this arrangement.

Great post!

Sober In the City said...

Hey girl!

You really do have the blogospheres best commenters... They really love you.

Perhaps it is because you are so 'relateable'.

As others have noted...

1. I am also impressed that you own a house.

2. I can't live with others, but perhaps if they were friends who cleaned I could find a way.

3. How could you give up your office?

4. You are working on a novel? Do tell? What kind? What genre? Can I read a chapter??

Leah said...

I'm still stuck on the dream of having a three-bedroom house. *jealousy*