It was April Fool’s Day when they told us she was moving in. Our other roommate, Kate* had moved out in December to study abroad, and our apartment complex hadn’t even bothered locking the door after she left.
Her room stayed empty for four months; no one had any need to go into the hallow space in the apartment where Kate had once lived. Not that she was gone forever or anything. She’s coming back next semester to live with us again.
The three of us remaining in the apartment often lamented about how much we missed having Kate around and joked about how if our apartment complex ever tried to put someone else in her room, we would sabotage their stay with us and get them to leave so we could maintain our happy existence in our apartment.
None of us had known each other before moving in, but by some miracle, we all managed to get along fabulously, respecting our space, taking turns with chores and sharing meals. Living together just seemed to come naturally.
But then everything changed when Megan* moved in.
Tori* was the first of us to meet Megan. I had class until late in the evening, and I was running late for a birthday dinner, so I had Tori come and pick me up from school and take me home in a rush.
“She’s interesting,” Tori explained to me about our newest roomie as she raced back to our apartment. “I don’t think you two are going to get along well.”
I was rather put off by this initial reaction of hers. My roommates know me considerably well, but I still get a little angsty when they assume what I will or will not like. However, when it comes to people, Tori is usually right, so I was a little uncomfortable. And as soon as I opened up the door and saw her sitting at the kitchen counter, I knew she was right.
Megan looked like a child. At 18, she still had that child’s innocence in her eyes, that gleeful smile and twinkle in her eye. I was horrified.
But I was in a terrible rush, and only had time for a quick hello before I had to rush off again and meet my ride or dinner. Little did I know, I was also on my way to one of the last meals I would eat alone while living with Megan.
Problems began immediately; Megan, it turned out, didn’t have very established boundaries, nor did she seem to acknowledge anyone else’s. Entire boxes of cookies, liters of soda, jugs of juice, packages of frozen food, crackers, cans of vegetables, soups, even pastas and beans mysteriously began to vanish.
Each of our secret snack stashes (that we all knew about, but also knew better than to rummage through) were rapidly depleted. I was personally starving – struggling to make enough money every month to pay my rent and feed myself – and I knew my other two roommates were living the same struggle.
After a while, when it became more than abundantly clear who it was that was dipping into our shared and private food supplies, we decided to have a chat with Megan on what is and is not okay to share in the apartment. We pegged it as a rookie mistake, after all Megan had never lived alone before. But things only got worse.
Megan was loud. She described herself as having “an easy sense of humor,” but that would be putting it delicately. Megan laughed at everything. EVERYTHING. Videos on her computer, commercials on the TV, every movie she ever watched, regardless of genre or comedic content. And Megan sang. In the shower, in her room, in the kitchen, while she was reading, while she typed on her computer – all the time.
Over time, Megan just got harder and harder to live with. For the first few weeks, we three original roommates wondered what to do about her. Should we kick her out? Ask the complex to move her out?
Talking with her one on one didn’t seem to do any good, there would be no “come to Jesus” moment with Megan. We were at our wits end, like unfit parents dealing with an unruly child.
As it turns out, time was the best thing we could give Megan. While she has failed to assimilate into the apartment the same way I and my two other roommates have, she has finally settled in.
The food thievery took a stern talking to, but has slowed, if not stopped all together. The noise level gradually decreased the more times we asked her politely to please respect our quiet while we studied.
What we finally realized was that while none of us are exactly full-fledged adults, we are all older than Megan. We’ve collected more experience. We’ve grown with each other for two semesters, listened to each other’s dramas and triumphs, lived together through our good days and bad. The problem wasn’t Megan; it was that we had already at some point in our lives been Megan and grown out of it.
Now, we have all agreed to give Megan a better chance. We won’t have her for long. Not only are two of us moving out for the summer, but Megan is only staying with us until the end of July before she moves back to her home in Texas.
But we are still all trying our best to take care with Megan, and gently nudge her towards learning what it means to share a space with three other very different people. She’s going to step on our toes, but sometimes the only way people will learn to respect boundaries is when they cross them.
Just the other day, Megan asked me for a glass of cranberry juice from a jug I had just opened moments before. Delighted she had asked my permission before taking something I had bought for myself, I told her she was welcome to it.
The next day when I came home from class, only about two inches were left in the bottom of the gallon container.
A few hours later, Megan came to me complaining of a severe stomach ache. I asked her what she had eaten that day, and after a long list of the foods, she mentioned having “a glass or two of cranberry juice.”
I couldn’t help but feel bad for her then. I buy that juice because of the high levels of Vitamin C, so I can up my intake and stay healthy. The amount of juice I knew Megan had actually consumed would be considered a mega dose of Vitamin C.
With a smile, I suggested next time she stick to one small glass and leave it at that. Now I am once again the only one I have to worry about feeding when I buy food.
*The names in the article have been changed