Well, folks, it’s that time of year again. Less than a month before Autumn begins and I’m about to lose yet another roommate! Throughout the last ten years, I’ve had exactly ten people tell me during the month of July that they were moving out in September. You can set your watch by it, and by “set your watch,” I mean “open your monthly calendar to July and circle the date printed on today’s issue of USA Today.” Let’s face it, sometimes it’s during the first week of the month, sometimes it’s the middle, and some hang in there right to end. So when August rolls around, I try to make our last few weeks together worth something special before I’m left to find someone new to share this cozy little dumpster behind the Shop N Save.
What is it about Summer in this man’s America that makes people want to up and change everything? Every year, I search for a roommate to share this place with me and keep costs low. I set up multiple interviews with the likely candidates so we can get to know each other and discover how we would function living in the same space. Once we feel we are a match, they move right in and we’re off to a strong start. We get into a solid routine, we get used to each other’s habits and quirks, and we look out for each other. I feel I’m pretty adaptable and I know I have extended myself to get along with the person who “splits the rent” with me. I’ve had three girlfriends, one boyfriend, a med student, two different mimes, a business partner, a Rhodes Scholar, and an old man who I’m pretty sure (well, 40% sure) was a version of myself from the future all move in with me in September, and by the following July it’s “Sayonara, Chester! I’m giving you approximately 45 days notice!”
Am I just having an Alanis moment when I realize that in same the month the Colonies declared their independence from the Brits, my roommates always declare their independence from me and this dumpster?
Ten years, ten roommates. I’d be crazy to think that they are always the problem and I just didn’t see it. Sometimes when you’re the one looking for a problem, the best place to find it is in the mirror. And I suppose that means I should go buy a mirror, and maybe some fresh linens. And some scented candles.
But was it really just me? My instincts tell me there has to be other factors instead, but when I go through them one by one, they all seem like pretty flimsy excuses. For example, I think maybe they don’t like the close quarters, but they knew the place was small and cozy when they agreed to move in. Maybe it’s because I spend a lot of time at home, but we didn’t have three interviews at Starbucks AND Seattle’s Best AND the Wal-Mart parking lot without me mentioning that I’m a homebody and kind of agoraphobic. You know, Woody Allen is agoraphobic, and he’s a very famous and successful man. Maybe their sense of adventure diminished over time and they just couldn’t bear the thought of one more year in this place. This place is absolutely an adventure! The city changes the twice-a-week pickup schedule every six months, lots of strange people try to rummage through our belongings, and holding a dinner party presents its own set of trying but not impossible challenges. One of my ex-roommates lived for two years in a tent in the Gobi desert! Surely she could handle this place, right? Then again, there is nary a dinosaur fossil to unearth around here, so I can see how it’s not the same type of adventure.
I guess I have to accept that their feelings changed and I can’t do anything about it. It’s not any one thing; it’s not me and it’s not this apartment. Eventually the appeal to split the rent diminishes and the urge to move on bubbles to the surface. And when I say “split the rent,” that’s just my euphemism for splitting the meat of an alley rat that inevitably becomes a midweek dinner. Free meals, very few expenses to speak of, and all the sky in the world to enjoy. Yes, it’s about as “alternative living” as you can get in this urban environment. Who wants to live in a four story walkup with it’s own set of problems?
Two years ago, I deeply considered moving out of this place myself, but after thoroughly weighing the pros and cons, I realized that staying here was my best option. Here’s just a taste of what I came up with. PRO: Adjustable skylight/moonroof. CON: No in-unit laundry. PRO: Most meals are taken care of on the cheap or for free. CON: Difficult to stay “heart healthy.” PRO: It’s very easy to meet and get to know the neighbors. CON: Floor is made of steel. PRO: Automatic twice-weekly maid service. CON: No HVAC system. PRO: Little to no expenses for upkeep. CON: Walls are made of steel/hard to hang pictures.
As you can see, the pros far outweigh the cons. I’ve grown accustomed to my minimalist lifestyle and I don’t think I’ll be making a change anytime soon. This is the life for a select few in this world. And my previous ten roommates — while enthusiastic — discovered it was not the life for them.
My old fishing buddy, Robbie, said maybe I should leave this time, too. He says maybe I’ve simply become attached to this place and I should try out something different. He tells me I’m too close to this place to ever see that sticking around here year after year could be damaging my sense of self worth. On paper, that sounds like an interesting perspective. And you know, I trust Robbie with my life on and off the fishing boat, but he’s too dumb to realize his mechanic has been nailing his wife Janice for the last three years. How much perspective can he really have?
Anyway, these classified ads are expensive when you’re paying by the letter, so any interested parties please call me at the listed number to set up a time to meet and see the place. Good day!