of excess and roommates

Have you ever read a book that sort of ruined your life?

I did recently, and I blame book club. A few months ago, we read a book called “For the Love,” and it was okay. Not life changing or life ruining, but funny enough that when I was at the library and saw another book by the same author (7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess , by Jen Hatmaker), I thought sure, why not? and checked it out.

Since At and I have been going to work together and since I can’t stand to watch him navigate the rush hour traffic, I decided that reading to him aloud made good sense, and so decided to tackle 7 first.

The premise of 7 is simple enough. It’s about – well, mutinying against excess – in a time and a country when consuming is the order of the day. Not all of it made perfect sense to me, I’ll admit, and neither did all of the seven things that the author chose to reduce resonate, but overall? Yeah. It made me really stop and think about the ways in which I contribute to the problem and not the solutions.

It has touched off a lot of discussion between At and myself, mostly about our house. You see, not that long ago, I was hardly batting an eyelash over the fact that the two of us – plus two cats – have a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom, 2600 sq. ft. monstrosity to call our own.1

It’s ridiculous.

I started batting my eyelashes over the size of my house a little more than a year ago, when I went to the UK, and got an idea of what living space can be like when one doesn’t have all the elbow room that we’re blessed with in America. Meeting a newly married couple who were so happy about their 400 year old house with the refrigerator tucked in a closet under the stairs gave me a bit of a pause regarding my attitude towards my 10 year old house with the refrigerator in my kitchen that I’m confidant wouldn’t fit through any of their doorways.

Sitting outside a cottage in Wales and feeling all the sheer perfection of that place, I told my husband that we needed to sell the house when we got back home. Sell the house, have a smaller mortgage payment and travel more. All the stuff I possessed back home was nothing to the experience I was having.

Obviously, we didn’t sell the house, since I’m still sitting around feeling appalled that we own it. In fact, we’ve spent the last year pouring a lot of time and effort into making it nicer and making it our own.

But reading 7, as I said, rather rekindled all my feelings about owning it in the first place. During one of the many conversations we’ve had since reading the book, my husband proposed that we might consider a roommate since we have the space and it could be a chance to minister to someone.

“Well,” I objected immediately, “God would have to make it pretty damn obvious that we were supposed to have a roommate in the first place. It couldn’t be just anyone and I am not going to put out an ad looking for some random stranger to come live in my basement. I will basically need this to be dropped in my lap.”

And that night? God dropped a roommate in my life.

We had a friend over for dinner and during the course of conversation, he mentioned that he was needing to find a new place to live. His landlady was jacking up his rent and he didn’t have the space where he was to really work on retrofitting his bus to make it into an RV anyway.

Glances were exchanged. I was heard to mutter, “It didn’t need to be that obvious!” to no one in particular. An agreement was made.

This was all about a month ago, and you guys, I am not going to lie. I’ve been having a tough time with the whole thing.

The new roommate is super chatty. I want to be left alone. The new roommate is of a certain generation where the general feeling is that if there’s a woman in the house, she is in charge of all the cooking and cleaning. I say, “Oh, hell no,” to that notion. The new roommate talks over the television shows when I’m watching something. I am biting my tongue more than I would like.

And I am convicted all over again, because I am not loving a friend any better than I am loving shitty drivers.

But I don’t question that this is the right thing to do. It absolutely is, and not least of all because it is challenging to me and is making me deal with my failings.

The really scary thing to me is that this morning, out of nowhere, I was thinking about another friend and it occurred to me basically out of nowhere that once the current roommate is gone, it might be good timing for offering my home up to this other person.

I have no idea if that is something this friend even needs or why I thought of this as it relates to them or why I’m looking ahead to new roommates when I’m having such a hard time with the current one.

All I know is that I blame 7. And God.

  1. I feel like my European friends may have just died a little at that admission.

4 thoughts on “of excess and roommates

  1. It’s definitely difficult to live with someone else. When it’s someone you love, like a partner, I think it might be easier to over-look certain things – not to mention that you actually want to hang out with them, so them chatting won’t bother you as much.

    I had a friend living with me for about three months at one point, love her to bits – but having her living with me was driving me nuts. It’s always an adjustment having someone living with you.

    And ha! I am definitely envious of your four bedrooms. Not that I necessarily need four bedrooms, but it’s not like I couldn’t find a use for them (personal library/office, anyone?). I’m still adjusting to everything being so SMALL over here in the UK.

    Sweden is probably a bit more similar to the US in that regard. Especially where I’m from since I lived in the countryside. Decent sized houses with a lot of garden. Here, you’re lucky if you have a little square behind your flat/house. (And don’t get me started on the sizes of the rooms, especially the kitchens!)

    1. omg, the kitchens in the UK are the WORST. I have no idea how anyone ever gets anything made in those things. I mean, we managed to do so a few times while we were visiting, but it was tough! I distinctly recall one kitchen that was so tiny that At and I couldn’t really cook together because there was only room for one person to do anything. I have to admit that I preferred the more modern places we stayed, where some thought was given to the idea that people might want to congregate around both the preparation and eating of food.

      We are a month into having the roommate now, and things have gotten a bit smoother from even a few weeks ago, but I’m getting pretty concerned that he won’t be gone any time soon. He takes forever to do anything – his bus that he is theoretically retrofitting to be an RV has yet to be fully unpacked. I keep telling myself that the extra income is worth it, and it is nice to have. On the other hand, I’m only two months away from having a better cash flow in general, so I’m not sure how much longer that line will work. I might have to start looking at rent money as travel funds. After all, I do have in-laws in Malta to visit and totally need to hit the UK again, small kitchens be damned!

  2. See, in Sweden it’s not even allowed to be called a kitchen unless you can fit at least a small dining table in it! Here, I have seen very few kitchens where you could fit even the tiniest table!

    Travel funds are always welcome, I’d say. But having a room mate can also be difficult. I think it’s one of those things you’ll have to play by ear to see whether or not you can deal with it. In the end, if it gets bad enough that you think you might not be able to handle it, or might fall out with your friend – then that’s probably the time when having a room mate is no longer worth it.

    Side point, if you’re ever in the south of England – we should meet for coffee! Or tea, cause it’s the UK (and I don’t drink coffee cause I’m odd). Also, Malta is amazing, you should definitely go there!

    1. He says he is planning on being gone by October, which is two months later than what I first agreed to, but I am mostly dealing with it so far. really wish he wasn’t so chatty though. I just don’t want to talk to anyone that much, especially when I am reading or watching something or am otherwise in engaged in anything that requires my concentration.

      But I will probably live, even though I think October is unlikely and it won’t be until next spring that we finally give him the boot.

      When I am next in England, we should absolutely get together! I agree not for coffee though. The whole time I was there, I felt it was impossible to find a decent cup. That, and the lack of decent red wines and tacos, was probably the biggest cultural shock I underwent, haha. We are hoping to make Malta happen next year, in the fall, and I can’t see being on that side of the world and NOT swinging by the UK for at least a few days. I will certainly keep you posted regarding any plans we may make!

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