Since leaving for college in the fall of 2008, I have shared a home or lived with 29 different guys. Two of them were also named Jordan, and roughly 40% of them had names that started with the letter ‘J.’
I’m getting married next week. This means that the time of sharing a room with a random guy named Josiah or Jerry has come to an end. Because of this, I have been reflecting on all the filthy/uncomfortable/awkward living situations I’ve found myself in over the past six years. In my first paragraph, I made you aware of the staggering amount of research I’ve done when it comes to my past living habits. I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface, friends. If you’re not a fan of endless lists of hilarious but hard data, I suggest you turn back now.
Over the course of these past six years, I’ve lived in at least ten different named places. By that I mean the places I’ve lived were accompanied with a title of some sort. Some of the names were fitting, some of them not so much. Such examples include Woody Island, The Swass Shack, Helm’s Deep, and The Green Dragon. Ten places in six years isn’t a whole lot, but I’m not including random one-week stays, summer camps, or the one night I spent in a crack house. That’s a story for another time.
There’s been some interesting habits among the 29 different people I’ve lived with in these places. You start to see some intriguing things. Disgusting, horrific, terrible things. I found that my standard of living plummeted over these six years. Through it all, I still maintained my necessary personal organization and cleanliness, but the things I saw over those several years….PTSD can’t describe it enough.
People took to writing their names on food. There’s nothing odd about this, but I found it hilarious that you could return home to find your Ramen stockpile devoured, all because you forgot to write your initials on those life-giving packages. As far as laundry supplies went, detergent was usually a shared commodity (at least that was my interpretation), but there was always that one guy who used fair-trade vegan Tunisian dragonberry detergent. Steer clear of that guy.
Appliances and furniture were always a source of hilarity. The TV was usually owned by one person, although I carried my own run-down Magnavox for all those dark years. This was especially sad when said TV owner inevitably moved out, leaving the rest of us to play Tic-Tac-Toe in a candle-lit living room. It happened more than once. I realized that despite the horrors of modern television, a room with a TV in it is a beacon of community. People would flock to it as the only source of entertainment in an otherwise dark place. Take that TV away, and you take our well-being away, our sense of comradery. It was a test I had to endure many times.
Some of my roommates were strangely territorial. They’d hog game consoles, or be weirdly overprotective of their room, barking at others to stay completely away from it. The chances of me sleeping next to a bedroom converted into a meth lab in the past six years are pretty high, I’d say. I had roommates with pets. Some of them had no friends, but they had a pet. Some of them neglected their pet. These people were the worst.
And then there were the extensions of roommates in the form of strangers. I can’t count how many times I’ve stumbled out of my bedroom in the morning, only to find a random person drooling/snoring/dead on my couch. I’ve had my towels and toothpaste used by them. More than once, I’d come home to them playing my guitar or using my amp. Depending on who you are, I probably let you borrow my Nintendo 64. Heck, you may have even driven my car. That’s when you knew that I liked you.
Except for that one guy in college who borrowed my car for work and then got a ride home from a friend, leaving my Honda downtown overnight. I hate that guy.
Every form of environment was emulated at one point or another. In an attempt to simulate the feeling of living in a landfill, trash would often flow from a garbage can across a common living area, forming a natural shallow creek of sorts. Some people liked the feeling of living inside of a greenhouse, and would crank the heat to volcanic highs. Other people seemed to have Inuit blood in their veins, as they’d leave the thermostat so low as to freeze over a portion of a house.
There were times when I was legitimately afraid of using the restroom. One of the more colorful places I lived had a cockroach problem. We’d see them in broad daylight, scurrying across the kitchen floor or emerging atop our kitchen trash can. Only later did I learn that if you are seeing roaches in your home during the day, you have an infestation, and they are likely swarming unseen behind the darkness of your walls. As if to drive this point home, I remember waking up one night to a powerful buzzing noise in the general vicinity of my head. I quickly flicked on the lights, catching sight of a gargantuan roach flying from my pillow to the wall, where it turned sideways and slid in between the wooden slats. I remember staring in silent horror at the place where the creature had been moments before. Cockroaches could fly?? At that point, I had lived for 23 years without knowing this. Never again. I wept.
I could go on and on about the things I’ve seen in those six years. Washing machines flooded, people parked their cars in ridiculous places, cops were called, new species were regularly discovered in refrigerators, Magic: The Gathering cards covered every flat surface, etc.
But none of that matters now.
Barring some apocalyptic scenario where I am forced to house refugees in my basement, I will only ever have one roommate for the rest of my life: my future wife. This sparks a litany of emotions within me, but the most prevalent one is that she’ll have to put up with me.
I’ve gone on and on about the horrors and highlights of my bachelor years, but I haven’t mentioned my personal living habits. I’m sure that just as I’ve been telling tales of past roommates throughout this post, somewhere there are people out there who speak of living with me and the challenges that particular arrangement presented. I don’t doubt that I’ve been the source of frustration for more than one poor soul. But again, this matters not. All that matters is putting my own silliness aside for someone else, because that someone is far more important to me than the way in which my towels are arranged.
I’ll admit, I value comfort over many things. I take long showers, arrange my meals in a precise manner so as not to clutter my eating area, prefer being in a well-lit place (my eyesight is pretty bad), complain often and loudly about temperature, and toss and turn a million times per night to get comfortable. And now I find myself in a place where all of my preferences will constantly be challenged, tested, and perhaps even overruled. The same can be said for my fiancée, who no doubt is aware of the many interesting scenarios I will be presenting to her, for all eternity.
You know what? That sounds amazing. Six years of mostly passive aggressive and filthy living quarters have made me realize that I’m built for marriage. One person is the exact number of people that I can see myself wanting to live with for the rest of my life. One more roommate and I’m John Ritter; one less and I’m Yoda. That’s not an earth-shattering proclamation, that’s pretty much how it has worked for a long time. But many, many people are not made for marriage, and I’m thankful to not number amongst them.
Now of course I’m not married, and I can hear the collective snickering from the married people reading this (my target audience, obviously), but I stand by my belief. I’ve lived with enough mutants, cretins, and Neanderthals to know what I prefer, and I prefer her.
Her, and no one else.
Except for maybe our cat. That guy can stay too.
I get married in ten days, so I plan on following up this post next week with a second part, but I may or may not have other priorities. I don’t even have my wardrobe. Do I have gifts for my groomsmen?
Hm. I should get on that.