It’s the first time in my life that I’ve had roommates. Last June, I moved in with four very close friends. Allow me to reflect on it tonight.
I’m an only child. My mother grew up as one, while my father had a couple brothers. My family is very small. It’s ultimately my mother, father, uncle, and me. If you’re very astute, you may recognize that I have the distinction as the last male Townsend of child-bearing capacity. I like to darkly joke that evolution has a built-in mechanism to stall blood lines that perhaps need not carry on.
Growing up, I didn’t attend summer camps, participate in youth groups, or join boy scouts. Football was perhaps the only thing I did that required explicit cooperation. My other sports — baseball, wrestling, and pole vault — were decidedly more individualistic. Ohh, that’s why I’m a selfish libertarian now. Does this substantiate historical materialism?
As a kid, I never had siblings to contend with, never had to share my parents’ attention, resources, nor — most importantly for our purposes here — a room. So when I grew up, I left the land of bibles, boots, and buffalo to go five hours east to a place of beanies, down beats…and hipsters. You’ll find this strange, but amongst the most important considerations for choosing a college were 1) in-state tuition, 2) acceptance to an honors program, and 3) a single occupancy dorm room where I could continue to seek isolation from scary crowds of people.
This trend continued once I moved to Washington where I had a private room and bath in Silver Spring, followed by a single bedroom apartment in Hyattsville. This worked well and allowed me to get deeply in my own head on the weekends, but I was so eager to free myself from the red and green line metro commutes that it compelled me to move closer into Washington-proper.
Ok, so that wasn’t really the reason. Actually, I spent a lot of time crossing two polities and a river to get to Crystal City every weekend and visit Ankur, Abhi, and Hannah. We decided that it’d be better if I could replace that commute with merely opening my bedroom door.
The dishes aren’t often clean. That’s my only complaint.
That’s because they cook exotic cuisine and serve me frequently. And I’ll trade dirty dishes in exchange for their indulgence in my neuroses, which has peaked this summer for reasons unrelated to my living arrangements. I don’t know how I’d have made it without some witnesses to my saga.
More than a support mechanism, I’m confident that they’re making me smarter. It’s pretty intuitive, but when you live with driven and intellectually endowed people, then you can only follow suit. It doesn’t really require a study to prove it. They’ve got me studying for the GRE, writing on this blog, and thinking about the best way to leverage my skills. More than just comic relief, I think my impact on Ankur, Kelly, Abhi, and Hannah has been to bring a bit of social cohesion to the group dynamic. Moreover, they’re certainly learning better cleaning habits, and with a gay friend they’ve got a Get Out of Right Wing Accusations Free card.
About myself, I’m slowly finding ways to be more patient and not slam the door in Ankur’s face. “When angry, count to ten before you speak…”, Thomas Jefferson said.
Most excitingly is that I’ve changed my self-perception as an introvert. It’s hard for me to stay in on the weekends now. I crave friends and fun these days as if I’m reclaiming my 21st birthday. I find myself listening to Now That’s What I Call Music 90s hits more than Mozart’s piano concertos, and I can’t even tell if I’m being ironic or not.
Suffice it to say that it has been a pleasure to socialize myself to this new dynamic. There has been laughter, meaningful conversations, and great movies. And thank God that now I won’t have to drive myself to the hospital for vertigo attacks, abdominal pains, or the next thing.