For no discernible reason, I and my roommates decided to watch Ghost of Mississippi, and as we were watching Alec Baldwin ham it up, I started thinking, “It is really bizarre and unnatural to live in an apartment with strangers who you found on the internet.”
Like, one of my roommates is someone I know a little bit from college. But another is someone that I didn’t know at all until they answered our Craigslist post. And now they live in my apartment and eat in my kitchen and sit in my living room. In fact, they probably think of my living as their living room. It is a very strange thing.
In college, I lived with a huge number of people. I think I totted it up once and counted that I’d shared rooms with 19 separate people over my four years of college. But since then (except for summer sublets), I’ve pretty much only lived with people I had some sort of prior relationship with. And what stopped those situations from being strange wasn’t that those relationships were particularly strong (in some cases they were very tenuous), but that they were people who were already floating along with me in the currents of life. They were people who I had mutual acquaintances with or who were in school with me or other stuff like that. Whereas when you live with someone you find on the internet, there’s no way to ignore the fact that this is a very forced intimacy.
Not sure what else I have to say about this. I like our third roommate a lot (or I wouldn’t have written this post). In general, things have always worked out well for me roommate-wise. (Once, a group of my friends were exchanging awful-roommate stories and I joked that the reason I didn’t have any was because I am the awful roommate.) I’ve liked all the people I’ve lived with and have remained friends with a good number of them. I also prefer living with people. When I first moved to Baltimore, I was excited that I finally had the financial wherewithal to live alone, but it was not fun at all. When you live alone, it’s good as long as you’re happy, but the moment you become unhappy, then it turns into this weird, self-perpetuating mire where you’re lonely but don’t have the energy to see people, which in turn makes you even lonelier and less energetic. Whereas when you live with people, you at least see other faces once in awhile.
Although, living with the wrong people is worse than living alone. The one bad living experience I had was the last place I was at in Oakland (the one where I only stayed two months), which was kind of a rooming house situation, where the landlord rented out the rooms individually and no one knew each other or spoke to each other. That was definitely much worse than living alone.