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A slippery slope up Channing Way

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MARCH 03, 2023

Rooming with your best friend is a slippery slope.

One can always wonder whether introducing a constant proximal closeness is healthy for an already tight-knit friendship. I won’t lie, I pondered this question before deciding to room with one of my best friends during sophomore year. 

I didn’t want to ruin a relationship that was so grounding in my life due to my inability to do laundry on a regular basis, take my dinner plates down directly after each meal or overcome my aversion to putting in headphones while watching South Park in bed.

By the previous statements, you probably are wondering why anyone would want to live with me. But let’s be honest, no college student has impeccable living habits when transitioning into their second year. However, I will admit, I was quite surprised when my roommate saw my freshman dorm and still decided to live with me. 

Despite my hesitations, we agreed to room 30 minutes before I was due to be crushed in the crowd at a Conan Gray concert in Oakland. Fast forward from that phone call to me writing this piece, it was probably one of the better decisions I’ve made in my college life. 

The thing about living with your best friend, however, is that you very quickly realize that being best friends can conflict with one’s views toward having alone time and resting from the ever-social nature of communal living. 

My previous roommate relationship began as two strangers bonding over an odd Glee obsession in Instagram DMs. Going from strangers to friends through a yearlong sleepover seemed to make sense; alone time was slowly elongated into lengthy conversations and spontaneous trips to La Burrita in shower slides. 

That’s the thing about freshman housing: Coming into a high-rise double with trepidation mainly results in an exceeding of wary expectations. There is no previous groundwork set in stone, so what can you potentially mar beyond repair right off the bat? The stakes are low and excitement extraordinarily high. 

After a harmonious exit from the world of microwavable meals and lacquered laundry room benches, I was ready to move up the hill and find a home outside of dorms. In late August, that call before the Conan Gray concert became a reality. 

I was no longer a timid freshman making a foreign space my own. I had a space that contained memories and moments seemingly held in a delicate vase subject to break at the slightest quake. This new space came with growing pains, but I am happy to report that after (almost) a year of living with one another, I have learned to make a clear distinction between roommate and friend labels in order to maintain a comfortable living environment. 

This distinction can be testing, and certainly comes with a learning curve. But as time lumbers on, it becomes clear that living two separate lives does not mean that a friendship must fall apart or exist in limbo. 

Harmony can be found in sitting in silence listening to separate computer screens or folding laundry and letting the newest Gracie Abrams album pour from headphones into your ears. Space is necessary to maintain stability, it in no way indicates a breaking bond. Learning the importance of alone time in a shared area is the challenging yet cardinal rule of living alongside a close friend.  

While spending time together stealing dining room plates for charcuterie boards and amassing a peculiar cup collection highlighted a wonderful rooming experience, it is coming home at night and debriefing the day that makes you feel like you’ve found someone that might as well be family.  

To prevent myself from jinxing a pretty good arrangement I’ve got going on, take my advice with a grain of salt. 

Every single pairing is different and living habits outside of a friendship may not necessarily be compatible, but from a purely social perspective, I would say that my musings have been somewhat accurate. It does help that my roommate and I both continue to find merit in purchasing obscene amounts of freezer food to air fry when midnight rolls around each night.  

The time of year has come to sign leases and fill out housing agreements, and while this proves to be a high-stress task in a city faced with a continuous housing crisis, I urge any readers to consider the plausibility of a pairing. Different friendships exist across the board, and recognizing which ones are ready to be roommates is as important a skill as the price point of a single is often out of reach. s

Securing a physical house to settle down in is one thing, but turning that space into a home involves developing a camaraderie with all those who reside under the same roof.

Contact Emma Solomon at [email protected].

MARCH 03, 2023