My first roommate in New York was easy to spot in a crowd due to his absolutely gigantic head. After his Egyptian hairdresser boyfriend broke up with him. it would also be possible to identify him as the one with the wineglass muttering angrily at the middle distance.
He began to have one-night stands to console himself soon after the break up. I woke up one morning to find my laptop had been stolen by a guy he’d brought home. He blamed me. "You shouldn’t have left it in the living room," he said.
The true extent of his depression become far clearer the following night. I woke at 3 a.m. to find two NYPD officers standing above my bed. Confused, I sat up and looked at them. “Did you find my computer?”
But they had already turned away from me me, opening the door to my bedroom wide. I watched in horror as his limp, heavy-headed body was carried of to the hospital to have his stomach pumped and his mind evaluated.
Forced out by the kleptomaniacs that hung out in gay bars and large-headed ghosts, I found a second roommate.
Jim had an adorable cat and lived in a loft in Bushwick which came with such amenities as particle board covered windows, a view of several bodegas from the fire escape and an ice cream truck which idled outside of the apartment playing it’s cheerful dinging song made much creepier at two in the morning.
I quickly ruined that living situation as well when the roommate and I went out for drinks one night and he charmed me with several whiskeys and an impression of his cat.
As soon as I slept with him, he decided I was his live-in girlfriend, which was not even something I remotely wanted. We spent the summer in awkward isolation, moving around the dilapidated space without speaking until finally to both of our relief, I moved out.
The next one would be better I promised myself, as I stuffed my belongings into several garbage bags.
At first Judd seemed like he might be. A med student with an open, dumb face, I was positive he was neither attractive nor depressive enough to cause me any trouble. About a week into our cohabitation while we were watching something on TV and I mentioned my fear of clowns.
“Clowns!” He leapt off the couch and disappeared into his bedroom for several minutes. I heard digging and zipping sounds. When his bedroom door finally swung open, there he was, filling in the doorframe dressed in full Bozo attire.
“I thought you knew,” he said as my throat constricted. This was his “coming out” moment. He must have felt relieved bacause from that moment on it was all clown, all of the time.
At night he practiced tying balloon animals and even though I pushed a pillow down over my ears, I could still hear the squeaking.
Aside from being a clown, Judd was also an obsessive-compulsive cleaner. One morning I woke to find a balloon dog outside my door stuck with a Post-it that read. “Next time you brush your teeth, wash the sink.”
It is exhausting living in New York on your own, but it is far worse when you don’t even have your own place to live and spend each day treading carefully around a stranger’s possessions and neurosis.
I yearned for my own place where I could lay out my own possessions and emotions but I didn’t have enough money. Until I did, I would have to live in the purgatory of balloon hats and rubber noses. It felt like punishment for not being more successful.
Don't worry, eventually I moved into a studio in the Upper East Side, which ironically was cheaper than any place I could find in the now trendy parts of Brooklyn. I walked through Central Park nearly every day. I had several jobs and more writing work than ever.
I still didn't really feel successful. I don't know that in New York, a city which I love, I ever really could. I do miss that studio sometimes though and the feeling of being in a noisy fishbowl and looking out onto the busy world from my warm little tank.
But the point is : Do you have worse roommates? Is that even possible?