This week’s post is brought to you by my epically wonderful, hilarious, crazy, and lovable roommates Gretchen and Renee.
Before we moved in together, I had decided that I would never have roommates again. I’ve had some wonderful ones, but between grad school, summer sublets, and summer opera programs, I had 11 different roommates in 4 years. I needed a break from having to learn how to communicate with people of varied relational closeness about dishes, bills, overnight guests, noise, etc. Similar to my sister, I am also generally an introvert, although I do stratal the two types depending on my level of emotional health. Since so much of my work is interactive, especially when you are in a program with the Ryan Opera Center, I need a chance to hide away and decompress after long days of rehearsals.
My first year in Chicago was spent in a cute little one bedroom apartment a bit south of where I live now. I LOVED living alone. I also became “Hotel Wilde” that first year as basically EVERYONE special in my life stopped by to stay with me for a night or two. After living in Arizona for 2 years, it was nice to be back in the midwest, near so many high school, college, and grad school friends. But when I didn’t have guests, I reveled in the quiet and have never really been one to struggle with loneliness. I also have some seriously awesome friends from all stages of life who stay in touch via Skype. Pretty awesome. Pictured is just a couple of the visitors I had that year.
When I had issues with my landlady who wouldn’t fix a safety issue in the building, I was suddenly put in the position of having to find a new apartment. This all hit at the busiest time of my season and I was stressed already. Out of desperation and a moment of not wanting to do yet another big move by myself, I reached out to two girls from my bible study. I had heard that they were wanting to move from their tiny two bedroom apartment and asked if they would be willing to get a three bedroom place instead. I had only started to get to know the two of them, but because of the craziness with my old landlady and apartment and the stress that resulted, I made a SUDDEN shift to being excited to live with people again.
Thanks to Gretchen’s best friend Becca, who insisted on finding us an apartment near her, we ended up finding a PERFECT three bedroom apartment, near all of our friends, with the best landlords in the world. Amazingly, this exact apartment was lived in by two former Ryan Opera Center singers eight or nine years ago! Crazy!
It turns out, moving in with these ladies has been the BIGGEST blessing in so many ways. We are very different from each other, but we are also a perfect combo. Gretchen is artistic, fiery, emotional, relatively introverted, wise, and intensely loyal. Renee is fun-loving, caring, very social, driven, and sweet. Both invest deeply in their careers and the people in their lives, constantly strive to grow in their Faith, and are always up for theological/intellectual debates and discussions. I’ve discovered when adults like this live together, the conversations about living logistics are not complicated. If the dishes need to be done, we say it. If cleaning needs to happen, we clean one area and ask the others to pick and clean another part of the house. I pay the bills and tell them what they owe me. We take turns buying TP and paper towels. Nothing is dramatic and communication is always happening. It has made life simpler, because I’m not doing it ALL alone.
Beyond that, we have spent the past year and a half taking turns dealing with some pretty intense life issues. One after the other would go through work frustrations, questions of faith, the joy and confusion in dating, the heartache of breakups, family issues, a household unification in the delight of being single women, and the inevitable struggle with singleness. We’ve walked through life with openness and vulnerability, (even though Gretchen will roll her eyes at the idea that I am EVER vulnerable…) allowing the others to speak truth, dispel lies, and to, what I call, “process with adult supervision.” We pray together when someone is walking through something particularly challenging or just had a really terrible day. It’s been wonderful to come home every night and enjoy the people around me. I still have to hide away to decompress, but it is understood, never taken as a slight, and I find myself having to do it less and less, which has always been a sign that I’m in a healthy emotional place.
We also laugh. A lot. We laugh at each other quirks, like Gretchen’s quiet, but INTENSE frustrated yell, Renee’s purse that is dropped wherever she first stops when she walks in the apartment (I cant even describe the number of strange places I have almost tripped over it), or my sudden and aggressive strip-off challenges that are yet to go matched (don’t ask). We watch great and terrible TV together. We make pancakes after church every Sunday. We made delicious drinks and unashamedly indulge in pajama-wearing binge watching. We send each other sermons and podcasts to listen to and them discuss them. And we dance.
I’ve also discovered the joys of not having to do everything yourself. I will blog on that topic soon. I’m still learning how to ask for help, but this experience has been a MASSIVE step in that direction.
To conclude, living with roommates who love, accept, challenge, and support you is life-changing. The city becomes a completely different place and everything in life is do-able. As Renee prepares to move from the apartment to start a new life adventure, I find myself feeling like the past year and a half has been a pure gift.
Thank you, Renee and Gretchen, for being YOU, allowing your beautiful hearts and lives to be shared, and for loving and accepting me.