The author, at right, with her roommate Liz. (Courtesy Jennifer Purdie)
The author, at right, with her roommate Liz. (Courtesy Jennifer Purdie)

I never expected to reach my late 30s and leave open another cupboard to make space for a new roommate’s cereal boxes. At this point in my life, I thought I’d be living with a male partner, one with whom I shared a last name — not a 28-year-old woman I met on the Internet.

I connected with Liz on Craigslist and we decided to room together after just one Skype session, during which I showed her around the house via a laptop while a neighbor’s child screamed in the background. Three weeks later, she drove from Texas to San Diego, arriving with a basket of dirty laundry and boxes of books I could borrow. I browsed through and could tell our tastes matched; I can be friends with anyone who likes funny memoirs and Tina Fey.

I can afford to live alone and have done so twice. I own two properties, a house and a condo, but I’ve never enjoyed spending time in an empty, quiet space. Each time I tried it, I thought I was too old to share a refrigerator and bathroom drawers. I no longer wanted to notify a roommate when family members were coming to visit for a weekend or a guest was to stay overnight.

But when I lived alone for the first time at age 32, every evening I left my job as a writer for a fitness company, I would sit in my car in the parking lot, playing with my keys and delaying the drive home. I wouldn’t have anyone to speak with for the rest of the evening unless I made an effort to socialize.

I do socialize, sometimes. I like going out a couple evenings a week, attending comedy shows, dinners or happy hours with friends. But I am not in my 20s anymore, when social hour was every hour. I enjoy the fact that I’m at an age at which I no longer attend house parties with red plastic cups; “after party” are not words in my vernacular anymore.

When I lived by myself for the first time, I felt so alone I would spend weeknights going to movies by myself or working extra hours because the thought of going home to an empty place was too difficult. On weekends, I either headed out of town to get away from the monotony of my silent home, or I would bring my laptop to nearby coffeehouses to work and chat with other patrons. I would do anything to surround myself with people rather than sit at home. Sundays felt particularly lonely, perhaps because most people consider it “family day.” I lasted nine months before filling my empty bedroom with a roommate.

I never experienced such despondence on the weekends when I lived with others; I’ve considered them a form of family. In 2013, I rented out my home, moved from Arizona to California and purchased a one-bedroom condo. Now at age 36, I felt I was officially too old to share my DVR space and WiFi speed. This time, I decided, I wouldn’t get another roommate until I was married to him. If I never married, I would live out the rest of my days by myself. My home would be completely my own, or at least until someone dragged me into a retirement home. But those lonely feelings crept back and I loathed returning home from work every night. People told me to get a dog, but after my beloved family dog passed away, I couldn’t handle getting another.

Sure enough, exactly nine months later, I created an online ad listing my one-bedroom condo for rent. I would move out and move in with a roommate somewhere else. I found a happy, young couple for the condo, leaving most of my furniture for them. I then looked for women also hunting for a new home. I settled on Liz, who was relocating for a job.

After we moved in together, I immediately felt happier. We found our groove together within days. We respect each other’s space, we cook together occasionally, and we saw “Magic Mike XXL” together on a recent girls’ night out.

Sometimes Liz and I go a couple of days without engaging in conversation. But knowing a body sleeps under the same roof keeps me content and adds life to my life.

 

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