I’m living in an old, Victorian house with beautiful original woodwork and two stained-glass windows in the Twin Cities. I’m so close to things I love — restaurants, bars, music venues, the gym, the library, soaring downtown skyscrapers, and an inexhaustible vein of interesting people to notice — so close I can walk to these things (I love walking!) My room, newly painted in a delicate warm lavender, is old and spacious too. Just before I fall asleep, I can’t help but hold in my mind all the people whose lives unfolded here over the century. I wonder about who they were, the relationships they had, and the worries that clouded their minds. Their lives are just an ephemeral impression now, lighter than the color of my room.
I have two roommates.
As an introvert, this is the thing that made me the most nervous about the move. I’d lived on my own for two years, in a one-bedroom apartment, just me and my two cats. (Go ahead, you can start the crazy cat lady jokes now. It’s nothing I haven’t heard before. ) After divorcing at the age of 29, I decided I needed my own space. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was nesting – insulating – myself from the world of people so I could heal.
I needed to enter the world of people again.
My roommates are two women my age I work with (we are all educators). One of them is an introvert, the other an extrovert. The other introvert and I tuck ourselves into our rooms in the back of the house most days after work, and usually Fridays, after a long week. Tonight (Saturday) I’ll probably see a friend and get a drink at one of the bars in the neighborhood (I want to do some exploring). Sunday will be slow again, as I’m excited to dig into the books I’m picking up at the library.
The extroverted roommate is out all the time. When I mean all the time, I pretty much mean all the time. Weekends, school nights, until midnight or beyond. If she’s not out, she’s usually surrounded by a troupe of friends at the house, playing board games or watching movies. My introverted roommate and I exchange secret looks – sometimes pained, sometimes amused – about her amount of activity. She’s a lovely, wonderful person, but we just can’t (nor want to) keep up. I try not to judge her for her activity; I remember that she has different needs.
The home is sacred for my introverted roommate and I. We bristled when the extroverted roommate invited her boyfriend and other friends over to occupy our living room with loud, drunken conversation and a loud movie without asking. The home is where we introverts come to escape from the world, to escape from the rushing press of life, to be free of demands and small-talk chatter and having to bend to extroverted others. It’s a sacred place where I can be myself in a way I can’t be out in the world.
I think my roommates and I will be okay. There’s been some tension, but for the most part, I’m enjoying having others around again. If I was in a house of extroverts, it might be a different story. There’s been times I’ve missed the complete solitude I had at my apartment (like this morning, when I was in the middle of meditating, and my roommate came home and wanted to show me the things she bought at a book sale). I’ve tried to protect myself by tucking away time to write and read or just sit quietly, and I got a gym membership so I can escape there on my own if needed (which is what I did last night – there was no one there on a Friday, and it was so nice).
My meditation this morning brought feelings of expansiveness and lightness, and an optimism about my new home.
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