Here + Now

Come Hell or [Difficult Roommates]

Ever moved into a new shared space and immediately realized, “I’ve made a huge mistake”? You’re not alone.

A landlord with an aversion to the sound of anyone in the house and the smell of any cooking are examples of scenarios that put you in the category of a “difficult living situation.”

In my experience, the rookie mistake of finding last-minute accommodation weeks before the start of school was what caught me in this trap. Exhausted, stressed, and underwhelmed by the housing options in downtown Toronto, I jumped at the one opportunity that satisfied my shallow pockets and made for an easy commute.

On my first morning, scrambled eggs with cheese was a must to settle in; I needed to nest in my new home. However, I was soon to discover that, according to my landlord, this was a heinous crime, as it became clear by way of direct confrontation that cooking fragrant foods in the house plunged my landlord into “absolute hell.”

After asking around, my new peers weighed in with some horror stories of their own. “My roommate put cat litter in my bed once because he thought I kept eating food from his shelf in the fridge. Turns out it was his girlfriend,” reported an anonymous contributor. For many of us, though, roommates may not be this direct when relaying their stance on matters. Moving to an unexplored new city can be exciting and invigorating—if you are ready to confront the obstacles that personality clashes create.

In my case, I was micromanaged in how I should inhabit the space. On my way upstairs one day, I was met on the top landing by my landlord—arms folded, waiting for my approach. “Hello, dear. I was hoping to catch you. I don’t want to be a bother, but I wanted to just ask if you could close the door in the proper manner to not let the sound of the latch disturb others.”

Insert my wide-eyed, shocked face here. Listen, I am happy to accommodate in many ways. If I have to slide my socks along the floor to stop the creaks from the warped hardwood, I will do so; if I can only go down the stairs once in the morning to avoid “over-excessive shuffling,” I will try. But there is a point where my eye starts to twitch. One cannot possibly float around their home like a ghost.

One day I will laugh about the questionable reappearance of the sponge I threw away two-days prior, or the mattress relocation day where four mattresses and their box springs were manoeuvred over the staircase railing, but today, I will sit with my friends. I delight in their amusingly horrified faces as I recount the week’s events and remind them that “it’s just so cheap though!”

As a student, saving money is an important plus. It determines where you can go once school is over. But as one of many who endure a difficult living situation, ask yourself this question: is overwhelming your mental capacity a worthy sacrifice for a cheaper dwelling? After months of living through this––and to make it very simple––no, it is not a worthy sacrifice. But sometimes you have to do what is necessary until you can make things work in your favour, come hell or high water.

Teanne Teeft is a yoga instructor, vegetable and lavender farmer, and a publishing professional. Though she lives part-time in Toronto, her heart is on her family farm.

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