Sharing is not a strength of mine.
Fleeing the marital home meant making a jump from financing 0.5 to 1.2 households. As a woman used to living to the limits of her means, this was going to involve some major lifestyle changes; keen to minimise these, I briefly considered renting a room in a shared house.
Then I remembered the previous times I’d shared houses with people who were not bound by matrimonial vows to put up with me and decided that it wasn’t fair on anyone to pursue that option.
As an undergraduate, I shared accommodation for three years. Whilst I dearly loved many of the people I cohabited with (indeed, fourteen years after graduating, I still count three of them amongst my absolute dearest friends) I never particularly enjoyed communal living. It’s not that I don’t enjoy company – when the wind is blowing in the right direction, there’s nothing I like more than hanging out with my nearest and dearest – it’s just that I like solitude too.
On the recommendation of those who’d trod the path before me, I spent my first year at The University of Manchester living in Owen’s Park – the largest of the halls of residence. Somehow, I ended up as the only first year on a corridor of third years, sandwiched between an Italian dentistry student and another girl I only remember as being big and geeky. Right now, I imagine there are some very lucky Italians getting their oral hygiene attended to by a beautiful woman in her late thirties. Sixteen years ago however, she was just a stunning student with a steady stream of European suitors who, disappointed with northern England’s female offerings, were content to sit in her room all night and remain sexually unfulfilled while listening to loud europop. They also had to deal with me knocking on the door every hour or so, apologetically asking for the music to be turned down. I could see them turn to her for guidance as to how to respond – do we laugh in the face of the quiet, nerdy young girl from next door in a bollock-waving display of masculine dominance, or do we politely and considerately acquiesce to her request in an attempt to showcase our maturity and new-manliness? Either way, it didn’t win me any friends.
|The housemates of 1 Latchmere Road|
|The ladies of 255 Yew Tree Road|
My long-suffering ex-husband lived with me for thirteen years. During that time he was berated for just about everything. I need my home to be a place of safety, sanctuary and stability so if he so much as changed a door handle without telling me first he was in trouble. Toothpaste and stubble in the sink? Big-time bollocking. Recyclables put in the normal bin? Unforgiveable. Dirty crockery left on the side rather than put in the dishwasher? Banshee-level outcry.
I don’t mean to be a difficult housemate. I consider myself to be thoughtful and reasonable though I guess my cohabitants thought the same about themselves. Currently, my tiny house is shared with a cat. So far, she’s not showing signs of wanting to leave. We’ve only been here a year though; it’s early days…