I have never lived with anyone except when I was married. I started college late and—er—famous so I lived alone off campus. I never wanted to live with anyone I dated, and I didn’t date so many people anyway. Since my divorce, I never lived with anyone either, even though I dated someone for five years.
However, I now have a roommate. He’s a very dear friend who moved to L.A. and through a series of circumstances, I offered him my downstairs room. It has its own entrance and bathroom. He lives there. My friend’s name is Jeff.
Here’s the thing. I was very nervous about Jeff moving in. I was afraid it would be awkward. Like, would he feel weird sharing the kitchen and living room? Would I?
Also, he’s allergic to cats and I have 4. What if he couldn’t breathe?
What if I’m annoying to him and too much? Oof. This was a big fear. What if I’m too much?
I also worried he would never want to leave.
Guess what? It’s been amazing.
It’s not awkward. We are very close and our communication is excellent. So we talk things out if they feel awkward. I gave him his own counter space in the kitchen and he has dishes and cups and such he can use. He respects my weird food stuff and doesn’t cook bacon or shrimp or anything like that. Thanks, Jeff!
The cats are locked away from that room and he isn’t sneezing all of the time. He took allergy meds at first, but now I think he’s fine without them. The cats really want to love him up, but he avoids them and it’s fine. I feel badly he can’t really sit down in the living room because they attack him with love, but he seems happy enough in his space without fear of cat smothering.
He likes to be alone a lot, and I don’t take it personally because we are close enough that we have talked about it. When I expressed this to him, I started to cry and immediately realized my anxiety comes from feeling very left out if my brother wanted to be alone when we were kids. Jeff is extremely compassionate and wise, and he told me he will tell me if he needs me to back off. So far, it hasn’t been a problem. I feel less anxious.
But. Something weird has happened. I never want him to leave. I mean, I know he will, but I love having him here.
I love having someone to say hi to, especially when my boys are at their dad’s. I love having a smart awesome person to talk things over with. And I love to hear how his day is. We share a lot, and it’s really fun living with someone.
I’m told my girlfriends are taking bets as to how long it will be before it gets weirder, but for now, it’s not weird. He is very attractive—but he’s not my next boyfriend, I promise. He’s a friend who is with me in my house at a time when I am newly single and lonely. And I am careful not to use him as my sounding board the way one would lean on a boyfriend.
Jeff has taught me about true friendship. He has shown me I am not too much. And that my company is welcome and appreciated.
I love my roommate. I love being here for him and I love him being here for me.
I know one day he will leave. But I am not eager to lose his friendship and companionship just yet. I feel like there is more to learn from having Jeff here. I can respect boundaries. I can be part of someone’s life without smothering them. I can have honest and open conversations about my needs and someone else’s needs without it making me doubt my competency as a person.
So many lessons have been learned from having a roommate. Maybe I wasn’t ready until now to be open to all that I can learn from a roommate. I sure am glad I am ready now.