*Names have been omitted or adjusted to protect the innocent, the crazy, and the downright fucked up*
A while back, when my ex moved out, I was forced to do the share-housing thing. I couldn’t afford to live alone, and I sure as hell wasn’t giving up my gorgeous Newtown pad, aptly named Sanctuary Newtown. So, I put my big girl pants on, sucked it up, and looked into sharing.
My first housemate was an old friend who was licking his wounds after a break up. He’d moved back from Melbourne and wanted to see if Sydney could treat him any better. In the end, it really didn’t, but I can’t say for sure if that was him or Sydney, or just that he needed time out and my place was where he healed.
I got lucky in that first instance; as much as it was a struggle financially as we didn’t share quite as equally, things were pretty chilled and we’ve known each other for years, so there wasn’t likely to be too many surprises. Sort of; the sleep walking at 2am still gives me a giggle.
That being said, there’s only so many random chats you can have at midnight before it gets really tiring. When one of you works office hours and the other works in hospitality, a social household you cannot make.
The other thing is this; when you’ve been friends for ages, but haven’t seen each other for a while, living together can reveal whole new facets of a personality you never knew of. And the chances of liking them are 50/50. Again, we got lucky here; we’re both pretty chilled so clashes were rare and minor.
My second housemate can only be described as bizarre. Sure, living with girls can be quite a different experience to living with boys, but I’ll get to that later.
Let me preface the following with a note, however; C really meant well. I think. She honestly believed the crap she was spouting, and you have to give her credit for being so staunch in these beliefs. No matter how ridiculous they were.
The first, and by no means the last, of these little gems was the washing up penchant. Now, I’m a rinser, occasionally leaving things in the sink until there’s a few to wash. I’m not obsessive when it comes to washing up, just like to have things tidy, and keep the possibility of bugs to a minimum.
C took the last to a new, and slightly weird place; she refused to wash up without gloves, and was adamant that I did so also. Not because she didn’t want our hands on the dishes…but because it stopped us getting cockroaches. Ummm… Yep, she claimed that if we washed up with our hands we’d get roaches. I tried to reason this out with her, saying that when you wash up with your hands, you were pretty much washing them as well as the dishes, and that if she wanted me to rinse them after soaping due to the hands on clean plates, then sure, I was ok with that. Nope, she was having none of it. O-k…
The next strike came into play when I had a friend over. We were discussing cancer cells and how they multiply, and various alternative methods for managing this. At first, the conversation seemed normal; we all had some interesting ideas, had read some studies, etc. C asked what we thought of fasting in order to slow or stave off cancer. Friend and I were dubious, stating that abnormal cells of most types, be they cancer, virus, or general parasite, feed off the healthy, good stuff in your body, and fasting would then seem to speed up the process – without fuel, the cancer then starts to feed on what it has; basically, you.
The response was surprising, to say the least. We were promptly told we were wrong, that no, in fact, when you’re sick, abnormal cells feed off the sick parts of you first, then the healthy parts. And that she had a friend who fasted for 3 days, and when she stopped her cervical cancer had ‘shrivelled up and dropped off’.
Don’t laugh, it’s not funny. It’s fucking hilarious.
Friend and I were momentarily speechless. After we regained ourselves, we tried explaining that we thought that *might* be somewhat illogical, and that *might* not be the reason her friends cancer had gone. Repeated bashing of head against coffee table might have been more effective. Eventually C flounced out, and friend and I were left staring at each other, trying not to giggle.
I’d really like to say that it stopped there, but I imagine you’ve figured out already that it didn’t. She wasn’t crazy, just really, really, REALLY weird. The last straw that made me give up the ghost was the menstrual talk. For those of you who gack out at this stuff, by all means, skip ahead, but you’ll be missing a good story.
Anyway, I get home from work one day to find her curled up on her floor with a blanket and looking rather pitiful. Clearly that time of the month, and it was treating her especially harshly. Most girls know what works for them, and have tried and true remedies to ease their suffering. C and I had been living together long enough now that I thought her wine and chocolate fetish might help, so I suggested one or both, even in a small quantity.
I’m not sure exactly when it got weird, except to say that when I said something about getting the flow, well, flowing better, she came out with this little pearler; apparently bleeding is bad. Like, really bad. And the more you bleed, the worse it is. You are basically shortening your life span by letting yourself bleed, and we (being women ) should all try a remedy called Slaying the Dragon, which slows down your flow and can even stop it. Women are connected to their blood, as men are to their sperm, so women should not bleed excessively, nor men or ejaculate excessively.
At this point, I think I may have actively realised I was living with someone odder than myself.
It’s interesting to note that this isn’t the reason I asked her to leave. I found out she had booked tickets to go overseas, quit her job, and was just biding her time until everything got confirmed when she could give notice. Which turned out was going to be a few weeks at best if I hadn’t found out. So, in the end, a weird girl, and a selfish one. She did hug me goodbye when she left and asked if, maybe in a years’ time, we could possibly have coffee and maybe be friends. To my credit, I let her and didn’t tell her to fuck off.
After all the lead in, I’ll demonstrate why this is like blind dating, for those of you who haven’t already been nodding along sagely and shaking their heads.
When you get talked into a blind date – let’s be honest, no one really goes willingly – you have absolutely no idea what you’re in for. No matter how much you get told they are a lovely person, have similar tastes, are good-looking, etc., you really can’t make any assumptions. You put your evening in the hands of well-meaning friends, family, or a set-up company, and hope for the best.
With share housing, you take someone on face value and see if there’s any spark. Even living with friends is a gamble; my nearest and dearest have habits that make me want to punch them, and I’m sure the feeling is mutual. But as we don’t live in the same house, I get to enjoy all their good stuff, and cringe at home later at the stuff that makes me nuts.
Share-housing seems infinitely more painful to be honest. It’s Russian roulette as to whether it will work out, and the only way to find out is time and interaction. After over a year of share-housing, I would now willingly suffer through a dozen blind dates than go through this process again.
That being said, I am getting better. I’m not a pushover about money, cleaning, or noise, and there are certain compromises I’m just not willing to make. I think it has also given me a better sense of other people; a certain respect for how other people like to work, live and play.
And on a smug note, it has clearly demonstrated that my view of how difficult I can be to live with is rather skewed – I’m not that bad, I’m just NORMAL.
On a larger scale, it does make me wonder how people live with more than one person, and how they do share-housing for years at a time. The money factor absolutely makes sense to me. You want to save for a house/holiday/car/whatever, and sharing is the only way to do that.
However. I interviewed a girl last week for Sanctuary Newtown. In one sentence she told me how much she liked her place, in the next how hard it was it was living with SIX other people and how she needed to get out for her sanity and her bank balance.
This all seemed reasonable and we discussed the necessaries of Sanctuary Newtown; quiet, only one other person, and though it seemed a little more expensive weekly, it worked out cheaper monthly (her words, not mine).
To be honest, I’m glad it didn’t go any further anyway, because my question is this; if your option is living in a share house with SIX other people, including all the noise and drama that comes with it, or living in a spacious, quiet place with one other person, then why would you choose to move in with a friend who has 4 kids under the age of 12, put all your stuff in storage, and share a bedroom with an 10 year old? In a bunk bed, by the way. At the age of 32.
I’m honestly asking. I cannot fathom this particular life choice. Nor the reason for saying it out loud. We don’t know each other. I don’t care. Someone, please, enlighten me.
So we come to my current situation of looking for a new housemate. My last one was sweet, but rather immature, and also jetting off to far off places (which he wasn’t going to tell me about until the last minute. Do I have ‘mug’ written on my forehead?).
I’ve had the house to myself for nearly a fortnight now, and though my budget is starting to strain, it’s been rather nice. Kettle goes on when I walk in the door, I watch my shows at full volume, I drink milk out of the carton (ok, it’s my milk, but still!). I do need to find someone though. Either I get a higher paying job or a paying housemate. I interviewed the loveliest investment banker yesterday; tall, muscly, looks like Christopher Judge with glasses. Total geek. We got along very well and he’s coming for a viewing on the weekend.
Things are definitely looking up. But I’m not looking forward to another round of getting-to-know-you-and-all-your-weird-habits. Though I’m sure it’s been a character building exercise for me. Or something.
Right then. Head back, straighten my dress, chest out… Wait. Wrong occasion. Le sigh.. ;)
I’d love to hear any housemate horror stories you have, if only to make me feel more normal. Drop me a line and let me know your best!