Why I Live Alone (A Roommate Story)

To live in New York City is to live in a box. To live in New York City and not be totally broke is to share your box with another person…or two or three.

I moved to New York after a summer of traveling, and had every intention of winging everything—housing included. But when push came to shove, I realized couchsurfing wasn’t my style, and I needed to find a semi-permanent place to crash while I got settled.

In a fit of almost too-perfect timing, a friend of a friend named Lauren needed a subletter in her Gramercy apartment the week after I got to New York. She would let me pay rent on a weekly basis, a good friend of mine lived a few floors above, and the room was huge! Oh, right, but there was the roommate. She was on tour for the month, but she’d be back.

Sam was an actress-slash-singer, or singer-slash-actress, or something-slash-crazy-person. I lived for three blissful weeks without her. I had the bathroom all to myself. I played music on full blast. I did whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

That is, until Sam came home. She knocked on my door late one August night, suspiciously looked around my bedroom, and awkwardly introduced herself. She seemed odd, but harmless. 

Later that week, I stepped out of the shower only to hear one of the least pleasant sounds in the entire world: the sound of someone other than yourself having sex. The kind of sound that makes you want to crawl into a ball and die a little. Yes, Sam was a screamer.

She screamed at ten in the morning on Saturdays, she screamed at six in the evening on Tuesdays. She screamed when my friends were over, she screamed when I thought I was home alone—I have to imagine she screamed when I wasn’t there, too.

Did she really not know I could hear her? Was she not totally mortified? This was a thing I could not understand! (Also, I never knew her last name. She went by her stage name, which made her sound like a porn star. Fitting.) This was when I decided I would, without a doubt, opt to live alone. Because the only thing worse than hearing your friends having sex (a thing that never happened throughout all four years of college, mind you), is hearing strangers having sex.

After I moved out, I asked Lauren about Sam and her screaming. A horrified Lauren apologized profusely and informed me Sam had lived with more roommates than Lauren could count as a result of her impressive vocal stylings. The final straw came when Lauren’s grad school study group was subject to a performance of epic proportions. It was just a lucky coincidence that she had the opportunity to move to L.A. soon after.

Sam and I now live in studio apartments 100 blocks apart.


Julia Rubin writes about fashion for teenagers on the internet. She is very good at email and karaoke.


11 Comments / Post A Comment

EmmaG (#1,023)

I hear this. I am currently living next to a screamer. Our apartments share a bedroom wall, but she’s actually loud enough that she can be heard in the stairwell. It happens throughout the day, but it’s the most irritating at 3 a.m. on a weeknight.

I believe she’s a business student, so I suppose she doesn’t have to be anywhere early in the morning. I do though. ARGH.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

Sex noise is one of my primary reasons for not having roommates ad well as one of my primary reasons for refusing to date guys with roommates.

Megano!@twitter (#1,923)

And no one ever said anything to her? C’mon. Yes, it would have been momentarily embarassing, but getting to keep a cheap huge room in New York City would be worth it.

la_di_da (#1,425)

…Yes mortifying the first time, but if it’s just a little noise I’m at the point where I don’t care anymore. Screamers, not so much.

mof (#342)

Heh. I still have unpleasant flashbacks to renting a room in a house. The owner would have her special man friend over on weekend afternoons and they’d immediately go at it at full volume. The first Saturday I wondered why her daughter grabbed her stuff and ran out the door when she saw him arrive. The following Saturday, I was close behind her.

hopelessshade (#580)

I was always a little guiltily concerned that our dear housemate could hear us across the apartment, regardless of how quiet we were, but now I understand that my man and I are saints among mere mortals.

e (#734)

My first apartment here had paper thin walls. And pretty regularly on sunday mornings my neighbor would get spanked. For a long time. I wondered why it was always sundays.

I dunno. I mean, I think you have the right to tell someone you can hear them and ask them to keep it down, but overall, I’m mostly ok with sex noise. I’d prefer that to a constantly blaring loud tv or music for sure.

pizza (#599)

Luckily, my roommates have not had any sex in my apartment. I have however heard my downstairs neighbor once.

It’s a joke amongst my friends that we have all, individually, heard each of the others having sex at some point over the decade that we’ve known each other. Maybe it’s because we went to college/ spent our twenties living in these kinds of shifty apartment situations in New York? I didn’t realize this was weird. Maybe we just all lack boundaries?

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