In three days, my best friend of four years and I will move in together. We never created some elaborate plan to move in together like a lot of best friends do. But because life endlessly throws curveballs at us, it just kind of happened. This wouldn’t pose as a problem to either of us, but bad memories of my previous living situation hung over my head as soon as we finalized our current moving plans. After every FaceTime call we make about decorating the apartment and splitting up toiletries, I worry about the same question.
What if we turn into my old roommates?
My old roommates exhibited all of the characteristics of perfectly nice people. When I sat alone in my room watching Netflix in a depressed freshman haze on the night of our homecoming, they asked me to tag along with their group of friends. They always bought the toilet paper. We shared all of our snacks. They often complimented my cooking, and occasionally played music that I actually liked on their incredibly loud Bluetooth speakers. However, those just about ended their short list of good qualities. I couldn’t stand living with them any other time. While they seemed like honestly sweet girls, it didn’t change my tendency to dislike them.
The dishes sat unwashed for days. They blasted music at all hours. Old hair and grime constantly clogged the drain of the show that I always cleaned. They decorated the tops of our kitchen cabinets with old empty 40s and vodka bottles. I literally found a half finished can of red bull on the shower caddy, a red Solo cup of rancid sangria on the back of our toilet that they never cleaned and a Xanax on the bathroom counter—all on separate occasions. After only a month of living together, they constantly engaged in screaming matches. They would call each other horrible names, and avoid each other for days, only to make up within the next month. I would notice them picking specific members of their group to hang out with in an effort to avoid to ones who might be on the other roommates’ side. Bringing my friends anywhere near my apartment remained fully out of the question.
I felt like an underappreciated mother of two alcoholic toddlers and I never did a thing about it. At the most, I texted them, admittedly passive aggressively, to please clean the apartment for the love of God my parents are coming to visit me.
In the long run, refusing to say anything about my grievances didn’t help any of us. While I had a front row seat to some gripping roommate drama for nearly an entire year, I also had to live in filth for a year. I never even attempted to overcome my introversion to make both our living situations a little better. And while it may have seemed like a blessing to live with a roommate who never commented on their terrible living habits, I’m not so sure it turned out in in their best interest. Their next roommates may not present the same passive aggressive silence.
But for now, they’ve already packed up all their things and moved to another apartment somewhere else in Philadelphia. Any relationship we had has ended. And yet, looking back on that horrible year with them makes me nervous. That year in our little third floor apartment felt like watching a cautionary tale play out in front of me and I didn’t realize it or learn anything from it until we all moved away. I often can’t help but think of the possible reasons why characters from some of my favorite shows don’t live with each other. Sure, my best friend and I, while admittedly uncomfortable with being open, do what we can to foster honest conversation with each other. But does the chance that we could end up in screaming matches followed by complete radio silence like my old roommates still exist? Of course. At the same time, I can’t tell the future. I feel confident that if we can put effort into showing each other kindness and consideration, we can make it work. My best friend and I share little in common with my old roommates.
I never felt close enough to them to discuss decorating for longer than a moment. My friend and I, however, have hour long phone calls about shower curtains. We bought a pizza blanket together and recently figured out how to live without pots and pans as we both forgot them in our home state of Maryland. We understand one another and our weird little quirks more than any of my old roommates. We both show minor clean freak tendencies, we’ve known each other for long enough that frank communication doesn’t make us feel awkward and we’ve never screamed at each other unless we scream from laughing. I know we won’t always see eye to eye, but we can still compromise as often as possible. I try not to expect things in life to fall into place flawlessly, but living with my best friend truly seems like it might all work out perfectly.