Some of you may know what it is like to live away from your parents and have roommates. From that first sentence, I could guess that a million different ideas of what the word “roommate” entails sprung into your head. Some might say that a “roommate” is someone they were forced to live with because there was no other option offered to lower their rent. Some of you hate the idea of having roommates, and just want to live alone. Some of you couldn’t live without having your ten or so different roommates (hello sororities and frats). Some live with a few close friends. I live with one. We’ll call her Tiny.
I’ve known Tiny since first year university (I’m in fourth), and we lived together once before in second year with two other friends. I was living in a different part of Toronto in third year to complete the applied portion of my program. Now, I live with only her, and I love it so far. Living with one person is so comforting because you just don’t have to keep tabs on as many people. Anyway, the reason I’m writing this particular post is because I wanted to share an activity that Tiny and I have started recently.
We have a whiteboard in our kitchen that we write messages on to each other sometimes, and I decided that I wanted to do something fun with it. I talked to her one day when we were both in the kitchen about using that whiteboard to write a sequential story. I wrote the first sentence of it right there and then, and we have continued it from there on. I want to share the story thus far, and I will continue to add to this post as the story grows. I am excited to see what the story turns into, and if it reflects what goes on in each of our lives outside of the fictional, silly, story. I will even highlight the different sentences so that you know who wrote what. I will have my sentences in black, and Tiny’s will be in blue. Here it goes:
Once upon a time, there was a cat. The cat, Terry, had a pet mouse named Ferry. The cat, Terry, loved his pet mouse immensely, no matter what the stray next door would tell him. The evil stray, Larry, would coax and coax Terry, as Ferry looked like a yummy bite to eat. Little did the stray know that Terry has an extremely strong history with Ferry. A history that could never be foregone for the fleeting temptation of food.
Now it has been a few weeks since I started writing this post, and a lot has happened. We actually stopped writing the story, and it’s not because we got lazy. As you can assume, there is usually some kind of conflict that pops up between roommates, or anyone that someone has lived with for a lengthy period. This has become a blog post about how we got through this awkward phase. Maybe you can take something from it.
It all started on this event that we’ll call the “Sunday Incident” (because that’s how Tiny refers to it later on). Basically, I can be somewhat inconsiderate sometimes. We have quiet hours at 11:30pm – 7am (as well as many other rules that I agreed to on a roomie contract that she laid out). I brought some really noisy people over to my place Sunday night a couple of weeks ago to see a cat that I was pet sitting for my boyfriend. Tiny was falling asleep at this time, and also had an assignment due the next day. Needless to say, I kept her up and she was not impressed.
Over the next week we meant to talk about the mishap, but our schedules never lined up (yes, I know we live literally right next to each other, but she has a strict study schedule). Eventually it got to the point where we were angrily texting each other. I could hear her talking to her parents, and her boyfriend about how pissed off she was with me.
I finally decided that, even if we were too busy to talk face-to-face, I could still write her a three page long manifesto on my feelings throughout. She wrote one back. We both apologized for our part of it. Of course, it was mainly my fault.
Before this whole ordeal I think I had taken it for granted that the responsibilities you have to a friend are not favours that you are doing them. It comes naturally to me to think of something “nice” that a person would do for another as a simple favour. Now, having violated Tiny’s sleep schedule, I realize that friends need to have more than the enjoyment of each other’s company; friendship is a contract in its own right. Ours just so happens to be written. But I can guarantee that you are all involved in relationships like this of your own, and maybe you haven’t considered exactly what these people expect of you and if you’re fulfilling that. Right now, I am in the early stages of realizing this (and I’m 21) but some people go their whole lives thinking that the world revolves around their own contract, without wondering if they are violating someone else’s . This is how misunderstandings flourish, and how friendships are lost. A contract between friends may not be written, but it is upheld by emotions. Feelings of guilt supplement the need to point out a violation of section 3.1 A (for example). There are, however, no expectations of a reward when you uphold your part in a friendship contract. And, what’s more, conflict is the only way true understanding can be obtained, so it is always a good idea to talk it through if you value someone.