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.