About two years ago my boyfriend whom I was living with broke up with me (for the 20th time, mind you). I was tired of being homeless, couch surfing, sleeping in my best friend's parents' basement, and most of all, tired of waiting for him to come around and realize what he was missing out on. I was working full time in New York and I really couldn't be that girl anymore. You know, the girl who came to work with all her bags, wearing the same wrinkled shirt from the day before, with swolen eyes that were always on the verge of tears. Yeah. Freak. Your job really doesn't give you time off to get over your breakup and pull yourself together, unlike in college when I skipped town for a month, and drank a year of my life away, after being given the boyfriend pink slip.
So I began the apartment search which was pretty scary because I spent all my "emergency money" on Pier 1 furniture for his apartment along with a new pair of shoes per week. What was "affordable" in New York was an eighth of what I had in Jersey. As desperate as I was to find an apartment, the roommate seekers whose ads I answered were equally as desperate to find a roommate to fill a spot. I didn't want anyone thinking they were going to get "that girl", you know, the one that comes with all the drama of a recent breakup filled with lots of crying and screaming on the phone, but some of these people were just Drama Uncensored. "Please move in. God, rent's due tomorrow and I can't afford to pay mine and hers on top of my child support and my school loans and medical bills. That fucking bitch had to go and get arrested. God, I told her not be prostitutin' in front of the apartment." Yeah. I'm sure a little crying in my pillow was the least of her problems. I looked at a place at the last stop on the B train in Brooklyn, that felt like a longer commute than my bus ride from Jersey, where I would be living with 3 gay guys, 2 of whom were strippers. I was going to look at another apartment but the landlady warned me about coming out there by myself after dark. Ummm, no thanks! Another apartment looked quite lovely except I would be sharing the place with 2 roommates and the "rooms" were separated by makeshift dividers. Goodbye, Sex Life. When I walked out into the stairwell there were beer bottles everywhere and clothes strewn all over the stairs as if someone had just literally thrown their lover out. Psssh. Poor sucker. Don't know what that's like!
I was just about to give up the search and camp out outside my ex's until he realizes just how awesome I am and how he can't live without me when my girlfriend, whose apartment I was squating at in Hoboken, suggested I try looking at some places in Hoboken. No way, I said. Nuh uh. Hoboken's soooo not me, I declared stubbornly. She told me I needed to find something and that someday, call her crazy, she'd like to be able to use her couch again. She looked up some listings on craigslist and found one that was just a couple blocks away and it had only been posted the day before. Call him, she said. It sounds nice.
And so, I reluctantly got on the phone and called the person and while he didn't sound all that excited to hear from me, he said I could come look that night, in like 5 minutes. My friend, Caroline, came with me, just in case the guy was crazy and decided to capture me and hold me prisoner in his love lair, but mainly for moral support. That was when I met Andrew, a 30 something opera singer who I presumed was gay and therefore "safe", who didn't sound all that excited on the phone or in person because he had just put his cat to sleep earlier that day. Gay and sensitive! I took a quick look around the place, a second floor walk-up with 3 bedrooms and 1 bath, and it was by far the nicest place I had seen so far and it just felt cozy with the scent of vanilla lingering in the room. (Andrew told me later he lit the candle to hide the smell of his animals, a dog, a cat, and a snake). I felt completely at ease in the 5 minutes of talking with Andrew, I got the "he's a good guy" vibe from him, that I called him the next morning and asked if I could take the place without having met the other male roommate (which I found out later that they thought I must have been crazy and desperate).
Everyone else thought I was crazy too for answering an ad and moving in with two complete male strangers. I'll admit, desperation did lead to irrational decisions, but these two guys turned out to be the best roommates I've ever had (besides Kate and Shavaun but they're my best friends). I felt completely at ease with them, like I had known them for years, and I learned that living with guys is waaaaaaay better than living with girls. You don't have to deal with passive aggressive drama (i.e. "I guess I'll do these dishes since they aren't going to wash themselves") and they know to leave me alone when I don't feel like talking whereas girls would ask you what's wrong until you end up hating them.
Of course, it wasn't all rainbows and butterflies all the time. At times I felt like I was living in a frat house, but worse, and those things took getting used to, like the infamous time Andrew's drunk friend burst into my room at 4am and mistook my closet for a bathroom. (I got a lock after that). Coming home at 7pm after a long day at work was always an adventure. I never knew what I was going to walk in to, whether the guys would be completely annihilated and calling strippers to come over, or if they would just be on the couch watching My Super Sweet 16 on MTV. I once came home to find everybody passed out and the entire living room (floor, couch, etc) was covered in popcorn. Yeah. Picture that. Or the time I came home and there was a tattoo table set up in the living room and Andrew was layed out on in, face down, "getting some new work done." Or the time I was happily typing away in my bedroom and come out to find that they had converted the living room into a makeshift bar, stocked with ice, glasses, and every possible liquor, so that Sergio can practice being a bartender. Or the numerous times I would be woken up at 3am by the sounds of their impromptu house party fully stocked with ugly troll bitches and guys playing the bongos, guitar, and piano all at the same time.
As frustrating as some of those nights had been, the good times we had far outnumbered them. Andrew and Sergio were always there when I needed them, whether if it was a shoulder to cry on, an ear to talk off, a drink to be bought, or just someone to sit on the dirty smelly couch with and not talk to at all. They helped approve my date outfits, gave me boy advice, always told me I could do better, all while trying to convince me to become a stripper.
Moving out (after getting an amazing deal in Manhattan that I couldn't pass up- Midtown with a doorman and an elevator!) was one of the hardest decisions I've had to make, but as some of my friends advised, "You're not in college anymore," and it was time for me to move on to the next chapter in my life.
I texted Sergio last night to say hi and ask how the new roommate was and he replied, "She doesn't clean. She doesn't get with us. It's like you never left."
Sigh. I'll always love them.
(Pics from one of my last nights at the apt).