Dear Future Leslee,
In about two weeks I will be moving back into the homestead, and while there will be many drawbacks (less freedom! More family ALL THE TIME! No more naked dance parties!) there will be some benefits, including the eventual realization of my goal of living by my own damn self for the first time in my life. Not that roommates are all bad by any means. I’ve managed to live with my Sopie for nearly nine months by now, and while I have occasionally wanted to put my foot through her alarm clock, I have never once wanted to put my foot through her face.
There was definitely some trepidation when we initially moved into together; questions like “Can I really live with this person? Is this really a good idea? How strong is our friendship? What is the likelihood that one of us will go batshit psycho and set the other’s closet on fire?” naturally arose. In the end, though, we did it. We survived, and I feel like our friendship is stronger for all the shared bathroom experiences and bra-party jealousy and the fact that my Sopie uses all the damn spoons in the damn house.
So I’ve decided to give you the top three secrets to a great living situation, based on my nine months of pretty much the best roommatery ever. Follow these simple guidelines and when you eventually do go your separate ways, neither of you will want to throw the other off a bridge. Guaranteed!
1. Agree on Standards, But Keep it Flexible
By this, I do not mean to say that you and your best friend/roommate need to sit down a sign a contract (with a witness!) determining exactly who will do what and when. Don’t set up some arbitrary system that is possibly not practical with your life, and don’t assume that either of you will be one hundred percent perfect all the time. Eventually, somebody is going to have loud sex on a school night or leave dishes in inexplicable places, like the upstairs bathroom. Because we are all just human, and sometimes humans are jerks.
Still, you need to agree on some basics. For example, my Sopie and I have about the same tolerance for filth, meaning that we will become blindingly disgusted at around the same time with unwashed dishes. We are also both very reasonable about necessities, like buying toilet paper and garbage bags. Plus, we agree pretty much completely on the foodstuffs that are sharable (milk, bread, peanut butter) and the foodstuffs that are not sharable unless otherwise specified on pain of death (asparagus, fancy cheeses, expensive chocolate).
It sounds obvious, but if you can’t agree on the basic than don’t live together. If one of you regularly bleaches the cat and the other hasn’t washed her sheets since hitting puberty, you are going to have issues. Avoid them all together and live with other people.
2. Don’t Be Home Too Much
I guess it sounds weird to say that the secret to living together is to not be around each other too much, but it really does help if at least one of you is not home most of the time. This works well especially if you have different schedules, so you aren’t fighting over the shower in the morning or the kitchen in the evening. In my case, I am usually out of the house working strange shifts or having adventures, and now that my Sopie has a manfriend she is also often AWOL. We avoided the whole morning bathroom issue because I get up ridiculously early, and my Sopie is often not even out of bed by the time I am putting on my shoes, which I totally don’t even resent her for in the least little bit.
Not being home too much will keep those occasional moments of resentment from boiling over into full-blown beating-them-to-death-with-the-ribeye rage when they do that thing with their bagels that drives you mental. So if you’re both homebodies (unless you’re both a little boring and not too sexy) it might be a good idea to find somebody else to live with.
3. Have a Third Roommate Whom You Can Vilify
This one takes a little more work, but is totally worth it. Want to keep your best friendship really strong, despite the struggles of shared accommodation? Then make sure to get a third, much more annoying roommate so that each of you can look on the other as the “good” roommate. My Sopie and I accomplished this little trick nicely with the careful application of dudes. Our male roommate likes hunting, watching hunting shows all night long while I’m trying to sleep, leaving the toilet seat up, and not washing his gross-ass dishes for sometimes weeks at a time. While none of these things are “deal breakers” (the incredibly laid-back attitude is certainly relaxing) it is, often, FREAKING IRRITATING, and that’s the point. My Sopie and I both have someone who’s habits are just a little mind-boggling that we can look on as the “weird” one. Sure, I’ve forgotten my laundry in the dryer before, which is a pain, but I’ve never left my crossbow on the kitchen table or antlers in the living room.
Basically, that’s all it takes to live happily ever after. Actually, one of rules that I forgot to mention is more of a pre-screening process, and it boils down to not being best friends with total psychopaths. If you have bad taste in bffs, than you are going to be miserable no matter how much you both hate vacuuming or want to watch the same shitty prime-time TV.
* * *
In other news, I am going cottaging next weekend and it is very exciting, but first I am working six days in a row and of course still partying and also packing and trying to move my shit. There are words for people like me. Long, complicated medical words.
Anyhoo, all the my love and unwanted advice,