I’ve moved 18 times since I was 17 and I’ve had 13 different sets of roommates over the last 10 years. None of my experiences have been good. Probably because I’m a type ‘A’ personality and things must always go my way. I am a difficult person with which to deal. My current living situation however, has been the best living arrangement as of yet. For the last year and a half I’ve lived with one of my good friends. We communicate well enough that we even renewed our lease for a second year. This is something I have never done with any of my former roommates. In fact, I think all of my prior living situations involved tears of sadness and frustration, several calls home to Mom to vent and a few lease terms ending early. To my knowledge, we have no major complaints thus far. Although, Mark, my roommate, refuses to read Pryorities until I write something about him and since he’s not very interesting, I’ve really had to do some serious brainstorming for content.
We did not become friend in the 6th grade when we first met. In middle school he sat at the “cool” table in the back of the lunchroom with Kelly, Jessica, Crystal and John. We were all in Mr. Dauer’s band class together. To me, they were really cool and I was really not. Middle school was hell for me. Not only was I in band but I was really fat and awkward and thought I was funny but none of my jokes worked in my favor. My adult life mirrors my middle school years except that now I could give two shits about the “cool” kids.
At some point I worked up the nerve to befriend Kelly and Jessica and would make my way over to the back table on occasion. I never really talked to Mark though. He was really intimidating to me because he had this way about him. Even to this day, he still gives people this look like what they’re saying is incredibly unimportant and they’re the most annoying person to have ever interacted with him. He is also by far the best eye roller I have ever met in my life. He’s not doing anything with his life, I should really approach him about hosting an eye-rolling info session at the community center for tween-aged girls going from middle school to high school. I mean, I think he’d really have an impact in that arena. Noted. But, every time I approached the back table during lunch I knew, 47% of the time, I would get a monotone “Hi, Kim” with a sarcastic half smirk and an eye roll. The other 53% of the time was a brazen turn of the head. This PBnJ is better than whatever you have to say.
Jump to freshman year of college: Mark and I were both smart enough to be accepted into the best state university in Florida but dumb enough to be deferred to the summer session. This is when we became good friends. We both didn’t know anyone and we were in a big college town. We would ride around the city together after class and go to the mall for bourbon chicken from the food court. He would talk to me about his girlfriend troubles and I would whine about the best friend I’d been in love with for the last four years of high school. I forced him to change my windshield wipers, fix the radio in my car when it broke and change out the brake lights when they died.
Fall rolled around and our smart friends, Aaron and Jenna moved up to school. Jenna and I lived in one dorm together and Aaron and Mark were roommates in the dorm a stone’s throw away. We’d go to concerts in the student union, free movies in the student life building, eat dollar breakfast at midnight on Saturdays and feed the ducks at the town lake.
One afternoon, after class, the four of us went to the record store. The store had all the latest albums that you couldn’t find at Best Buy or Circuit City. It was a hole in the wall for hipsters in 2004. It was where I usually spent my financial aid refund each term and would go to eye the older, bearded, flannel shirt musicians that worked behind the counter. There was a section in the side corner of the store where they would put out free, old posters and fliers for bands they were recycling through. This particular afternoon Mark and I eyed a poster for one of the bands that we were all really into at the time. It was a thick, cardboard, 3’ by 3’ cover of their latest album and we both had to have it. After some bitching and complaining on my part, Mark gave into me with his classic roll of the eyes. I took it home that afternoon and nailed it to the wall.
The next day I came back from my afternoon class, only to find that there was no poster nailed to my wall. Now, in my defense, the reaction I am about to describe is pre mood disorder diagnosis. I freaked out. I mean, my face turned red, my hands got sweaty, my voice was shrill with anger. “Who did this! Was it Mark!? God damn it! It was Mark wasn’t it!” I screamed at my roommate, an innocent bystander. With frightened eyes, she urgently admitted out of fear for her life that my friend, Mark, knocked on the door earlier that morning and she had no choice but to let himself in and take the poster. You bitch! I thought, why would you just let someone in and let them take what is mine.
I immediately picked up my LG flip phone and called him as I stormed out of the dorm. Taking the stairs because, fuck the elevator, I was not about to wait for it to get to the fourth floor. He didn’t answer. I frantically speed-walked across the parking lot and up the stairs to Mark’s dorm room. I pounded on his door until Aaron answered with, “Kimbo, whatcha doin?” He was so cool, calm and collected. “Uh really, Aaron? I know you’re in on this, too. Where is Mark?! Where is my poster?!?!” I demanded. Mark walks out of his room into the common area with this face of bewilderment like he’s just woken from a nap by an unexpected earthquake. He says: “Kimmy, what’s wrong? What are you freaking out about?” I just glare at him with through squinted, evil eyes. “Oh, don’t even. I know you have it. Where is it! Give it here! Where is it! Just give it to me!” I could tell that he didn’t know whether to laugh or be alarmed by my reaction to his intended practical joke. He acted like he had no idea what was going on for a good five minutes and then finally turned it over in annoyance. I’m pretty sure he didn’t talk to me for a good week and a half. Not because of the poster, but because I’m a crazy bitch.
One night during our sophomore year we went to Sonic for dinner, just down the road from our new apartment complex. Over chicken fingers and tater tots he told me he’d decided to move back to our hometown and go on tour with a band that was recently signed to an up and coming indie label. I was a little disappointed in him for giving up on school but excited for him all the same. Mark is a talented musician so it was an important adventure for him at the time but I was going to miss my friend.
Other than random Facebook posts, I didn’t see him again for another five years. We both happened to move back home around the same time and I ran into him at the annual Thanksgiving Eve homecoming at one of the local bars. I don’t think I have ever been so excited to run into an old friend. He moved home to become the Dining Room Manager at the local country club and I needed a job, so he hired me. A year later we were both offered new opportunities in a town an hour north from home and we conveniently both needed roommates. We have lived together ever since.
He listens to my frustrations with work and lets me vent about small bickering’s between Chris and I. He doesn’t eat my food when I’m not home unless is my provolone cheese. He cleans up after himself and he pays the bills on time. He’s one of the only people who actually laugh at my jokes because we both find humor in other people’s drama and unhappiness. He’s home when I need him to be and he’s gone when I need a day to myself on the couch in my robe. Lately, though, he’s been moping around the apartment like a lost puppy. His last “break up” was apparently devastating enough to where he can only be consoled by binge watching episodes of South Park and House of Cards while stuffing his face with Breyers Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream. I feel like we are on the same cycle right now. It’s very stressful. I try my hardest to send him to the store as much as possible so he can hit on a single mom or a lonely cashier. Publix is by far his favorite location to pick up women. It comes so easily for him to attract the ladies because he looks like the missing member of Fall Out Boy. I cannot figure out why he’s so sad. But, at the end of the day, it’s worked out quite well. He is not only my roommate but he is a good friend to me. I hope he reads this and rewards me by not coming home for at least a week.