Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Lost Year

So I think it is safe to say that almost everyone has a roommate horror story. It's almost a rite of passage to have shared a place with either a drunken lunatic, or a closet kleptomaniac. But isn't it interesting how it is always someone else who was the horrible roommate, but you, on the other hand, were an absolute joy to live with?

Well, I thought I'd throw my little saga into the ring.

I met A over one summer, when we worked together as recreation leaders at a summer park program. We were both twenty, and got along famously together. I couldn't believe my luck, because when you were partnered up with someone for the summer, you saw that person 8 hours a day 5 days a week. And it was just the two of you. If you didn't get along, then your summer totally sucked.

But ours didn't, it rocked. We had a blast, and spent lots of time together outside of work as well. Actually the whole recreation staff all hung out together, parties and the like. I was doing my normal floundering around as far as school went, and I think I was planning to continue my classes at a local junior college. Out of the blue, A asked me if I wanted to go with her to her college up north, and even more fun, we could be roommates!

I was immediately taken by the idea, and pitched it to my parents who were the ones who would be financing this adventure. They were a very hard sell. Looking back, I think the only reason they said yes was because it meant I would be transferring to a four-year university. They weren't too sure about A, and asked me if I really knew her well enough to move in with her. (Don't you love my foreshadowing?)

Balderdash, I told them. A's family was a prominent musical one in the area, with her father being an extremely successful musician and recording artist, as well as her mother being a professional singer. How could I go wrong with a girl from a family such as that? (Ooooh, I'm good at this.) We signed up for classes together, and excitedly picked out new furniture for our living room.

In late August, I moved 9 hours or so to Northern California. I had never lived anywhere other than Southern California and knew not a single person up there except for A. All my friends and my future husband were back in SoCal, but for some weird reason, I forged ahead with the plans. I think I just wanted to live away from my parents and experience what I naively thought was "college life."

I fell in love with the beauty of NoCal immediately. Back then, all you had to do was drive a couple of miles from our apartment complex, and you would find yourself in the woods, something a city girl such as myself regarded as akin to finding a hidden treasure.

Things were good, because at first they always are. Everyone is on their best behavior. I tried to live graciously with the rules imposed on me by A, which included each of us having our own pantry shelves and refrigerator shelves. I had just thought that groceries were kind of a shared thing, but A made it clear that if I took an egg, I had better make sure I either paid her for the egg or replaced it. Allrighty then.

Life proceeded, and I got to know a couple of people, but I felt constantly out of place. The pace is different up there, and it isn't a bad thing, I just wasn't used to it. I was in the prime of my life, and the big thing to do in that town was hang out at Round Table Pizza. I was having difficulty adjusting, to say the least.

Then one day, a boy named C came to our door. I say a boy because he was exactly that. He was 15 (but soon to be 16!) and would ride over on his skateboard. I can't remember the exact story of how they met, because I never really concerned myself with C at first. C was even more naive than myself, having never really even been out of the small town in which he was born. He was awkward and gangly, like most 15 year old boys tend to be. A said something about how she was tutoring C, since his family had requested it.

Then it seemed as if C was always over at our apartment. A and I were supposed to have certain (desingated by her while sitting with her weekly planner) nights of the week to hang out together, and she wound up ditching me half the time to be with C. Which I'm not sure I would have minded if the time had actually been spent tutoring him. Really, though, how much tutoring did this boy need? She would make dinner for herself and C, leaving me to fend for myself. Off they would go to the movies or a concert, leaving me with my two best friends in NoCal, Ben & Jerry.

I grew upset. Here I had moved all this way to be her friend and roommate, and she was spending all her time with this teenager! Call me immature, but after a few futile attempts at trying to talk to A, I began to just ignore her. I was hurt and angry. She also didn't seem to mind the lack of contact, and we settled into a comfortable routine of avoiding each other. Coincidentally, this is when Hubba-hubba and I would begin a long-distance relationship. I spent tons of money on phone bills to him and my friends at home, even going as far as renting a car and driving down for long weekends.

As the end of the school year neared, I don't think there was any question that I would no longer be living with A and that I would be moving back to SoCal. The deep freeze that was now between both of us was breathtaking in its iciness.

During my last few weeks there, I was walking with N, a mutual friend of A's and myself. I was mentioning how hurt I was over the whole situation, and expressing doubt in my own ability to judge people for myself. The subject of C came up as the main problem in the friendship, and I wondered out loud at the intensity of their relationship. N looked at me incredulously. She asked me if I knew about A and C. I replied that with her tone of voice, I wasn't sure.

It turned out that A and C were "together" as a couple in every sense of the word, if you know what I mean. I almost lost the contents of my stomach right then and there. When they first began "dating" he was only 15, and she was 21! It suddenly all made horrible sense. How much time they spent together, alone in her room. Her making him dinner and taking him out. N told me everyone knew except me. That A was afraid to tell me about their relationship for fear that I would judge her. Well, she was damn right!

I shed not a tear as my father helped me load my furniture and belongings into our rented moving van in late June. I don't even think I told A goodbye, she certainly wasn't there when I left. I laid my last rent and telephone bill checks on the kitchen table, and walked out of that apartment, never to see or hear from A again.

And to be quite honest, I am fine with that.


wordgirl said...

Now I'm really curious about who this person is. Are her parents even marginally famous?

Awesome Mom said...

creepy!!! My roomate story is not as bad as yours. I got put with a sorority wanna be girl my second year in college (I loved dorm life so I stayd in them longer than the required first year). She actually had the nerve to ask me if here boyfriend could share a bed with her (keeping in mind that we were in the dorms so we were both sleeping in the same room). I was shocked to say the least. Luckily she switched rooms with another ditz just like her so I was infliced with her presence for only a few days.

Liz said...

I really like the new look!

My freshman year roommate hooked up with a guy who had a single room, so she was never there. At first I resented that she was always gone, but later, I resented it when she came back occasionally. At least he was our same age!

That 15 year old has probably told that story to anyone who would listen!

Wait, word verification is back??

Granny said...

It's a wonder she missed out on jail. I think there are laws.

J said...

Were you at UOP, by any chance? I know it's a cow-town, by many standards, and has a great music program. Also where I grew up.

Looking at your experience, I guess I got lucky...I moved from said cow-town to San Francisco with a guy I hardly knew, but he was gay, and we were friends, and we found our way there...maybe that's another blog post.

Anyway, sorry your roomate sitch sucked...and I remember when I was a kid, my brother and I had our own milk, meaning I had mine and he had his, my mother's way of keeping us from fighting about it, and I HATED that. So when I moved in with the roomie, we shared all expenses on groceries, which sucked because he was a big MAN, and I was a small WOMAN, and I didn't eat nearly as much as he did. Oh well. Better than counting who's shit is who's.

Elizabeth said...

Yes I have a roomate horror story....

He's my ex-husband now.

Mega Mom said...

Wow. A younger man. Cool.

Yuck!!! Now you're reminding me that one day soon I will need to screen my kid's babysitters! Tutors, whatever...

Living with someone is always SO different than being friends with them!

Hope said...


These letters were neatly printed, one letter on each egg by one of my former room mates. How could I resist. Quiche for supper.

Piece of Work said...

Ooh, love the new look! But I hate the damn word verification.
I love this story, even though I'm sure it was no fun for you living it.
Wonder what happened to that kid?

KMae said...

She was definately WRONG. so not cool.

oshee said...

What a great story to have. It was obviously a difficult year, but I think you learned ALOT about yourself and about trusting others...etc.

It boggles the mind, what could she have seen in the kid? Some odd control issues there I think.

Paige said...

My good ness. I can't understand an attraction like that. All I can see is age difference. You are the better person.

Heather said...

Oh yeah, I've got one of my own stories, that ended with a horrible fight just before my wedding, and she ended up kicked out of my bridal party. Blech.