We’ve all cohabitated at some point in our lives, whether it was with parents, roommates, siblings, or a beloved Schnauzer-Bichon mutt. Sharing a space with others comes with challenges and frustrations as you navigate the politics of bathroom rules and sleep schedules — but it can also bring great comfort and memories (often involving wine).
I live at home with my parents, although I did the whole residence experience first year. The year apart gave us space from each other and time for them to realize I was an adult. Now my parents are like a hybrid of housemates and family, most of the time solely with the benefits of each. They grocery shop for me and take care of my dog, while leaving me space (literally a whole level of my house) for friends and homework. They throw parties and invite my friends, we go out for dinner on the weekends (during which I pre-drink), and their odd commentaries give me ideas for essays and Varsity articles. This arrangement is working for us, but I think that’s mostly because I don’t have younger siblings, our house is large enough for distance from each other, and I can walk to class in 10 minutes. I don’t think many students can even dream of having such an ideal situation, or parents as liberal as mine.
— Christina Atkinson, third-year, economics
I once shared a bedroom with a bathroom attached. My roommate and I got along very well, and it was like any other bedroom. There was a nightstand in between the two beds, a shared closet, and a dresser with a mirror — the usual things. There was just one difference: the sink was in the bedroom — not in the bathroom. When my roommate came home at 4 am (he was a perpetual partier), the light over the sink turned on, the sink powered up, and I was awoken from my slumber. Some days, I just stayed awake until my morning shifts at 6 am. I tried explaining my situation, but he would not change his ways. Eventually, I gave in and just started partying with him. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
— Chuck*, fourth-year, neuroscience
When I was 11 and my little brother was 7, we had what our parents will ominously refer to as our “pranking phase.” Our final “prank war” lasted about a month and featured stunts where he removed all the furniture from my room and replaced each item with a small replication in the form of a drawing. Finally, after he had smeared peanut butter and jelly all over my prized record collection, I went a little too far. My brother is both claustrophobic and terribly afraid of being buried alive (too many horror movies growing up). One night, I snuck into his room and placed a refrigerator box over his sleeping form, which I then weighted down with books. I waited for a bit, and then played loud, sad, music that I thought appropriate for a funeral. To this day, I have never heard someone freak out quite so loudly or intensely. Needless to say, our parents put locks on both of our doors.
— Sarah Niedoba, fourth-year, book and media studies, arts & culture editor at The Varsity
For the past four years I’ve been an occasional roommate with my best friend. I usually stay at her place on the nights that I can’t stomach my commute, or when we have an irrepressible need to sing the Gilmore Girls theme song proudly off-key. We’ve spent many a night drinking wine and dyeing our hair — which, remarkably enough, is not always the best combination.
I’m incredibly grateful for her generosity all these years. Her new apartment however, comes with some unexpected guests. A few weeks ago we were having a deeply moving girls night, sitting on the floor with a bottle of Naked Grape and Rent turned up to full-volume, when suddenly I felt a million tiny legs crawling over my foot. I will readily admit that we shrieked as we scrambled off the floor and away from the half-dozen, many-legged insects. We massacred most of them with a tissue box and flip flop, but one was too terrifying to take on. We now consider him the third roommate.
— Samantha Relich, fourth-year, criminology, magazine editor at The Varsity
Following a year in residence, I moved into a two-bedroom apartment with a first-year friend. Our friendship survived three years of happily living together (not always an easy feat), but that’s not the subject of my anecdote. Sometime after moving in, my friend and I found ourselves housing more roommates than we ever intended.
After several weeks of thinking we saw things moving out of the corner of our eyes, we finally laid eyes on our first mouse. For the next several years of living together in our quaint apartment, we would come upon mice almost daily, running along the walls of our bedrooms and across the kitchen. They lived inside our stove and would often make appearances in the presence of guests. While our friends would always rave about how adorable our apartment was, the vast mice population put us constantly on edge, eventually driving us out of the space.
Our relationship with the mice was a mix of occasional, misguided affection — I wrote a few poems about them and my roommate fondly named them — and of panic and anxiety. One unforgettable encounter occurred while we were watching a movie in my friend’s bed in the dark, and watched in awe as a mouse crept in her doorway, its silhouette flying what seemed like five feet in the air as it fled in terror at the sound of our screams. I have several memories of standing on the islands of our furniture, watching mice scurry into the small holes along our walls. I have yet to see a mouse in my new living space, but there are several at The Varsity office, so, unfortunately, a sense of withdrawal from my rodent roomies is not yet a concern.
— Danielle Klein, fifth-year, English and Jewish studies, editor-in-chief at The Varsity
Misery and a mirror
When I was rooming with an old friend, we lived in a small studio apartment where there was very little personal space. One time, she came home from a party and she was in tears, holding a mirror. I was fairly confused by the scene before me. It turned out that she had picked up the mirror from the stairwell — and we needed a mirror, so stumbling upon this free one seemed really lucky. But she was also upset, and hence crying, because of a guy that had broken her heart. We spent the night celebrating the free find but also lamenting the lost love. It’s one of the best and most tragic memories I have of living with her.
— Mirror Mirror*, fourth-year, criminology at UTM
*Names changed at students’ requests.