I was fortunate enough to live (well) with my best friend for three out of my four years of college. People always say that you shouldn’t live with your friends but they couldn’t have been more wrong in our case. Kali and I blended our lives perfectly, and a lot of it happened without us even having to speak. We both loved clean counters, hated dishes in the sink and had to have our toilet roll going over and NOT under. We were a match made in roommate heaven.
Kali and I worked to make our apartment feel like a home. Our trips to the grocery store were a chance to play Carpool Karaoke. We would either cook dinner together or take it in turns to make meals for “the house.” We watched TV shows together on Sundays. (Sometimes, if we didn’t want to watch the same thing, we’d put on our earphones and enjoy different shows side-by-side). The place where we ate and slept also became the headquarters of our friendship. Together we endured snow storms, illnesses, breakups, sewage floods (gross, I know), and everything that college life had to offer.
I now live in New York City and my roommates and I have a very different rapport. They’re both fantastic working women, but our dynamic will never be that of Kali and I. In this apartment, we don’t share intense details about our personal lives or wander into each other’s rooms for a chat. If we do see each other around the house, we exchange hellos and give brief updates on how our weeks are going. Each person does her own grocery shopping and cooking, and we’re rarely home at the same time to share a meal.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I don’t think that there’s a problem here. This is a typical roommate relationship. We share our apartment in respectful ways. Each one of us cleans up after herself and we have our own system for how to clean the bathroom or replace the paper towels. The communal space stays tidy for anyone to use and our rooms remain our private sanctums. It works for us.
The key difference between how I lived with Kali and how I live with my new roommates is that Kali and I had an established friendship prior to moving in together. It allowed us to turn our apartment into a shared home that we created together. My new roommates and I are just starting to get to know each other and – because we all have full-time jobs – tend to be away from home for the greater part of the week. We might never be best friends, but so long as we can respect each other’s spaces and create an environment that is filled with positive energy, that’s enough for me.
I will always be grateful for the years I spent living with my best friend, but I’m also grateful for the fact that I have two new roommates who aren’t obnoxious health hazards who engage in illegal activities. Both experiences have taught me so much about boundaries and respect. Just because my new living situation is different, it doesn’t mean its bad.
My advice to anyone moving into a new shared space is simple: Live with people whom you respect and who respect you. They don’t have to be your best buds, but together, you should be able to create a space that feels safe and enjoyable to live in.