Here’s a random fact: I’ve lived in New York City for eleven years. Nine of those years, during the brunt of my quarterlife crisis, I had roommates. That’s seven people I’ve lived with, five at one time. For most of it, we holed up in a studio apartment on the Upper West Side. All girls, the occasional boyfriend, one closet, four drawers, a single bathroom, four airbeds, two cats, a futon mattress and a partridge in a pear tree.
Most of that stuff we got on Craigslist.
Oh, Craigslist: land of misfit Ikea furniture, the occasional serial killer and thousands upon thousands of gainfully employed and ridiculously successful homeless people, desperate scanning the same posts for that one, shiny golden ticket… that promised-land post. That post worded so skillfully and fantastically, it disguises the fact that you are living as a fire-hazard in a tenament. A post like this one:
In Brooklyn: This is a unique situation because we would be sharing one large room. You will sleep on a blow-up airbed that is very comfortable. I’ve slept on it for months. I bought it at Kmart. I think it’s a Coleman.
A free Coleman airbed. A slept-on-for-months, free Coleman airbed. If you’re lucky, it’s the Coleman with the motorized, internal pump. The “pimp my ride” Coleman. You KNOW that guy found his happily-ever-after-roommate.
There’s this post from Queens: The apartment is set up dormitory style. Yes, there are bunk beds.
When I was nine, I wanted bunkbeds. I didn’t get them until I was eighteen. Remember those college-dorm bunk beds?
Remember when your roommates had sex on those bunkbeds? Like they thought you’d never hear. “Did you hear us last night?” … “No, no, I was totally asleep. There’s a solid … 12… 13 inches between my head and the springs of your mattress. Why would you think I’d hear anything?”
After college, I vowed to never again sleep on a bunk bed, and then I moved to New York.
And bought one.
And had sex on it.
Let me tell you, there’s nothing like climbing five runs in the heat of the moment, like you’re the flying Karamazov brothers, or something: “Don’t hit your head!… Wait, I’m falling off… Hold on, my foot is caught in the ladder… Shh, is that my roommate?”
For New York, though, we’ll do it. Because if you share 300 square feet with seven other people, you’re paying, like, $9 a day to live in NYC. That’s like two coffees and a Starbucks frappuccino.
There’s this post from the East Village: Share a studio with five other guys. We’re cool. We promise… Well except for the new guy, but we’re prepared to vote him off the island.
Most of my roommate situations have worked out. We had one girl… let’s call her Hendrika (because that was her name)… “Hendrika the Horrible House Guest.” I found her on Craiglist. She was fun.
A post from the Upper West Side reads: I sometimes work from home so you need to have a day job or be out by 9am even if you don’t.
To this day, I think one of my roommates was a prostitute. Or a pole dancer
Hell, she could have been Don Corleone’s fourth mistress for all I cared. You know why? Prostitutes/Pole Dancers stay out late, and sleep even later. We never crossed paths. It was like living with a skinny phantom who only ate spoonfuls of peanut butter and paid rent on time in $50 bills.
From Midtown: I am high energy and like to drink and have fun. Have lots of great friends and very social. I love to cook and dig just hanging out at home. I don’t really like living alone. Face it, humans are pack animals.
Beyond fame and fortune and being able to prove to someone, somewhere, something about you, in NYC the real goal is the prize of living “alone”. That’s sort of when you know you’ve made it through your quarterlife crisis – that moment when you slam the door on your last roommate, take off your pants and walk around your apartment naked without a care in the world, because it’s yours. All yours.
See, but here’s the thing: humans aren’t really geared to live alone. We sort of suck at it.
After nine years of roommates, I finally scored myself the most amazing rent-controlled, West Village studio, where I could live, roommate free.
And then I was alone.
For nine years, all I ever wanted was to be able to sleep in a real bed, somewhere I could monopolize every inch of closet and countertop space, while enjoying pathetically long, hot showers, followed by watching endless amounts of embarassing television shows on my DVR knowing full-well that nobody was going to eat the $11 pint of non-dairy coconut sorbet, unless that nobody was me, as I sauntered around naked, just because I could.
And I did. And I do.
The novelty’s worn off, though, and lately, I’ve started to realize there’s something missing in my comfortable little home. There’s something to be said about having continuous access to laughing and bitching and brunching and girltalk and crying and gym partners and instant-book-clubs and constant sleepovers and 24-hour life-choice support.
I miss my friends.
…maybe I’ll check out Craigslist.
By Vanessa King
[Photo credit: Rent Cafe]