After years of chore charts and shower schedules, hand-me-down sofas and socks on doorknobs I’m living on my own for the very first time ever. No more figuring out who drunkenly ate the last of my eggplant parm or politely tip-toeing around euphemisms for I Heard You Having Sex Last Night.
What may seem to most as an eventual stepping stone to adulthood, living by my lonesome has eluded me thus far. I’ve been yoked with roommates for nearly 30 years now! That’s a voluntary manslaughter sentence, or the lifespan of a cockatoo.
My first cohabitants were my parents and older brother. At roughly 17 years, they were by far the longest roommates I’ve had. They gave me emotional and financial support, kept me fed, bathed and clothed, and never asked me to go in on a pizza when I only ate one slice. On paper they were ideal. However, they did cut my hair with kitchen sheers, use dial-up and pee with the door open, so despite their plentiful Pro’s their Con’s cup ranneth over.
College was much of the same; dorm rooms, communal bathrooms, paper-thin walls. There was very little privacy. You were in trouble if you didn’t like Incubus because someone somewhere was always playing them and you heard it. You needed a bathroom caddy and flip-flops just to shower. You had a hotplate. When you finally ascended to the ranks of living off-campus everything was shabby and temporal. The carpets smelled like fungus and the closets smelled like fungus and the couches smelled like fungus too and no one cared because in 6 months you and your friends would be moving to a new house and some other sad sack would have to deal with smelling like fungus for a short while. Everything was dirty.
Then I got to New York and realized everything could be dirtier. And more expensive! Because the market and the demand are so astronomically high compromise is a necessity. You have a dishwasher, but you have no cupboards to keep plates. You have a bathroom, but it’s in your kitchen. You can’t leave your house at night, but who needs to when you can turn around in your bedroom! In a place like this—where managing to avoid bedbug infestation is considered a triumph—there is strength in numbers, which is why for the better part of five years I lived in Harlem with four other friends in a “charming” 3BR convertible. Slowly but surely I worked my way down from four roommates to one, down from 125th Street to 50th, and here I’ve been for the last three years. Living with Kaitlin has been comfortable if not almost totally normal, but at 28 the need to sit pantless on the couch with a beer has won over the duty to save money by splitting utilities.
The decision to live on my own in this city wasn’t without sacrifice, determination and a little hard-won confidence. In less than two weeks I’ll be moving into my first apartment. This is a momentous occasion, and like all momentous occasions it’s being shared with anonymous strangers over the Internet.
Wish me luck as I turn a house into a home!