I like to think that I am fairly capable with verbally expressing myself, but some experiences just cannot be portrayed within the feeble constraints of language. You will never fully understand the outlandish living arrangements of our cul-de-sac house, and that’s probably a good thing. In order to give you a vague impression, let me share a few highlights.
This past school year:
- I probably had as many German citizen housemates as I did American citizen housemates (for the record, the German citizens were generally more tidy).
- I cannot count the number of nights I came home to a stranger sleeping on my couch.
- At one point, a house guest attempted to buy one of our homemade paintings off of our wall.
- Shampoo, conditioner, gummy bears, and laundry detergent were just a few of the personal items that disappeared on a regular basis.
- More than once, I woke up at 2:00am to the sound of rocks hitting my window and my name being yelled from the backyard. A certain housemate made a habit of forgetting her key.
- More than one housemate required an intervention-style lesson on How the American Trash System Works. One subleaser got her own personal lesson in Why We don’t Put Metal in the Microwave.
- All housemates were instructed to Please Stop Putting Bones Down the Garbage Disposal.
- I came home to a handwritten note on the toilet saying “PLEASE WIPE ALL BODILY FLUIDS OFF OF THE TOILET SEAT,” and a second note that read, “SORRY WE WILL!”
- K’s terrifying (we’re talking, cut chunks of K’s hair out while she was sleeping, whispered K’s name under her breath, etc.) roommate from freshman year randomly appeared in our house one day, and told us she was spending the night She mainly stayed hidden during the daytime, but Sarah heard her pacing back and forth in the hallway that night as we slept.
- When a few subleasers locked themselves out of the rock-thrower’s room, she told them to climb onto the roof and through the window, like she does.
- Every walk from the street to the door was like navigating a mine field. No one wanted to be caught in an uncomfortable thirty-minute conversation with our (reportedly bipolar) next-door-porch-dwelling-neighbor-lady. It got even worse when her sister came to visit. I never met the sister, but I heard the stories.
All we lacked were the cameramen, and our reality TV experience would have been complete. After quite the epic social experiment in hostel-style living, we finally had our walk-through yesterday. As you can probably imagine, the house was a disaster. Most of the random transients had long since passed through, and only left their quirky food remnants and carpet stains as proof that they’d visited.
When I arrived at the house, I found a mountain of miscellaneous trash bags and boxes piled in the center of the kitchen. Thankfully, my sense of smell is virtually nonexistent, but K informed me that the house reeked. Our trash can was already overflowing with refuse (apparently everyone had learned how to use it at this point), so Karre and I loaded the garbage into our cars and tossed it at her new apartment complex. Seriously, guys: we couldn’t fit all the trash in both of our cars combined. We had to actually threaten some of our other housemates to come and throw away some of the trash. That was a thing that happened.
During the walk through, Boris pointed out that one of the decorative wooden valances was missing. “Have you guys seen it?”
I’m going to admit something. I had seen it. It had been in our kitchen, protruding out of the peak of Mount Rubbish. It had been, that is, until I packed it up in my Forester and threw it into K’s dumpster. But I couldn’t very well say, “Oh yeah! I saw it as I threw it into a garbage heap this evening!” So I didn’t. Boris told us we could look for it, and Karre and I silently agreed to “look for it” in a very specific and smelly location.
Maybe I should stop confessing my dumpster diving stories to the internet. I highly doubt that it’s helping my job hunting efforts. Oh well. Anyway, long story short, at the end of the evening I found myself inside the dumpster, rifling through bags of trash, hunting for a ridiculously important stick of wood. I found it, K returned it, happy ending. So what did I learn from all this? A lot (mainly that Kirkland brand trash bags will leak all over your car)—but here are the top two take-aways from last night:
- Think before you toss—I don’t know why, after this year of madness, I just accepted the fact that everything in the trash mountain was disposable. If I had thought for myself, instead of trusting the assumptions that had been given to me, I would have saved myself a whole lot of trouble. I think that goes for other things in life, too. Traditions, doctrines, interpretations, stigmas, proofs, stories, whatever. Sure, you can assume that your piles of presuppositions are perfectly accurate, but you might find yourself in a hot mess later on.
- Messy jobs are better with friends—I’m glad I had Karre with me to shine a light on the situation (literally). She held the flashlight, helped sort the trash, and snapchatted a lovely video of me as I shifted trash. There is nothing enjoyable about being knee deep in germs, but having a friend around makes it just slightly bearable and humorous. Some stages of life are about as pleasant as a metal box of garbage, but having friends with you can make all the difference.
Despite all the odd and ridiculous memories that I associate with that house, I’m grateful for our time there: for our semi-monthly dinner parties, our backyard twinkle lights, our fireplace, our sporadic deep conversations (or discussions about Beyonce), and the many great and interesting friends I made under that expansive roof. Sarah and I had no idea what we were getting into when we signed a lease with three complete strangers (and one coworker). Now, none of us has a clue what this next chapter holds for us either, but I’m sure that if it is anything like this last one, we have nothing to worry about.
Through a great deal of expert planning and perseverance, we managed to avoid ever having a complete house dinner, and we do not have single image containing all six of the housemates.
Here’s the closest we ever got, you’ll just have to imagine the missing girl (and the boyfriends, and the subleasers, and the unwanted former roommates, and the of-balanced neighbors…
Sarah pointed out that one morning we went downstairs to find a bean-bag sized trash bag full of movie theatre popcorn in our living room. I guess that’d be weird story #12.