To live with roommates, or to not live with roommates. That is always the question when looking to rent an apartment in a new city.
This is the story of the very first time I moved away from home to a big, new city. I have had 2 experiences living with roommates during this time, and neither of which ended up going well. I know a ton of people who have had the best roommates a girl could ask for, and that is something I definitely thought I would get to experience. It sounded so awesome to live with a friend and never be alone. Also, the though of an endless sleepover sounded pretty darn cool!
The very first time I lived with roommates was when I joined a dancing Graduate program and needed to find roommates who were going to the same program as me. It wasn’t too incredibly difficult, as I had made friends during the summer intensive. A girl we will call Amy, and a boy we shall call Arin. Both I had gotten to know pretty well, and we are all SO excited to live together! We had found a two-bedroom apartment on the other side of town that would be able to fit all three of us. The girls would share the big bedroom, and Arin would have his own room. We arrived about mid-august and got settled in our new place. We divvied up chores so we could keep the place super tidy… and that’s where things fell short. Arin had the tendency to fall asleep on the couch and leave his dirty dishes all over the floor! It was disgusting having to pick them up because they would sit there all week. We started getting cockroaches and had to have several talks with him about it. On top of that, I was good friends with his girlfriend and was stuck in between their arguments (which was no fun at all). With Amy, things were a little bit more catty.
For Nutcracker casting, I was picked for snow scene and was put in the spot. This spot was special because every girl in the grad program who had been placed in that spot had been hired into the company, and had the Artistic Director’s eyes on them. I remember half the girls I danced with were furious with me, and I honestly did not understand why that spot was so important. Along with that, I was still a very, very shy girl. I was still trying to discover myself, be who I wanted to be and still trying to fit in. Needless to say, I did not fit in at all. I was definitely the ‘weird’ one of the group. I loved to play video games and write poetry and spend time daydreaming; Everyone else was out partying and going out with the company members and doing group outings. Things I was never invited to go to. I was only ever invited to a Halloween party (that I was the only one who didn’t dress up because someone told me nobody was going to) and a Christmas party. Both of which, I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to drink at because one specific boy would not let me have a drink. Side note: Thank you to whoever that was. It was so long ago that I have forgotten, but thanks…
Not only was I a loner, but I did not diet like every girl in the program. My metabolism was at its peak, and I literally ate triple-decker PB&J’s for lunch every day and never gained a pound. Soon enough, a rumor was spread that I was bulimic, and I felt so detached from everyone. I think I had one friend out of the 70 people in the program. Yes, it sucked. I later found out that it was my roommate, Amy, that had spread the rumors about my non-existing eating disorder. We got into this huge argument, and I decided to break our lease, and move in with my friend, Jenny. She just so happened to lose her roommates as well, and the timing could not have worked more perfectly. This hit at the end of October, and right before it started to snow. I got all moved into the new apartment with my friend, and it was so much better at first. I had the whole upstairs of this apartment to myself, even had my own bathroom! And on top of that, a lovely view to the city. Things seemed like they were going to go up from there… it didn’t. My new roommate was still friends with both of my old roommates, and things got hard really quickly.
[Side Note: I did not sign another lease with Jenny; We instead came to an agreement that I would pay my third if the rent to her mom to make it easier for everyone.]
A few days before I moved into my new place, I had gone to the Halloween party. Jenny had given me a ride so I didn’t have to take the bus back to my apartment, which was very thoughtful of her. We stayed at the party until 2 AM and when it came time to leave, Jenny had already left with a few friends of hers, including Amy. Both of them knew that the busses only ran until 1 AM. We were the last to leave the party, and I felt more alone than ever. I walked 3 miles through the City at 2 AM just to get back to my apartment. This wasn’t the only time I had been told I had a ride home, and ended up walking back. Closer to December (right in the middle of Nutcracker rehearsals) we had a rehearsal go very late. I had asked Jenny to wait for me since I needed to grab a couple more things and she agreed to wait in the parking lot and get the car warmed up. I took merely 5 minutes to grab my things and when I left the building to where we said we’d all meet, she was nowhere to be found. I called her angrily and asked where she had gone, and I was met with laughter and giggles that she had left to hang out with Amy and Arin. Again, I walked and bussed another 3 miles to the apartment. This time, I was followed home.
I have never been so scared in my life. I had gotten on and off the bus 3 times at random stops and followed into a grocery store. At the age of 19, I was not prepared to know what to do in that sort of situation. I never thought I’d have to take on a situation as being followed. I didn’t talk to any one of my “friends” for weeks after that. It was absolutely heartbreaking for me, thinking I had friends and the next second, I was alone again. I fell into one of the biggest and hardest depressions I have ever had to face. I was alone in a city four times the size of where I grew up.
Jenny and I did have a few good adventures though, and we tried to be helpful to each other. We talked a lot about food (or at least she liked to talk about food) and how hard she was trying to lose weight. It shocked me when she said she only ate about 200 calories a day! It was absolutely crazy! We danced close to 8 hours a day and she only ate 200 calories a day. I had mentioned to her several times that she needed to eat in order to lose weight. Loosing weight is something like 30% excercise and 70% of what your food intake is or something like that. Don’t quote me on that! Just something I heard from a fellow Youtuber. She went to the doctor after me (and several others) telling her she needed to eat. Sure enough, the doctor told her she nearly shut down her metabolism and gave herself Hypothyroidism, and had to go on medication for it.
Thanksgiving hit and I guess this would be the first sign of what was to come for the upcoming new year. I wasn’t able to head home for Thanksgiving and my parents had thought that maybe Jenny would invite me to go with her to her home for the Holiday. Her family was maybe a 3 hour drive from the city we lived in. Two days before Thanksgiving, she left the apartment very early in the morning and I was alone for about a week and a half. I called my mom a couple of times throughout the day, acting like everything was fine, but I was far from it. I remember writing on Facebook how much I was yearning to be with my family, and how it would be the very first time I’d spend the Holidays alone. I am so grateful that a fellow dancer saw my post, called me and insisted that I come her spend Thanksgiving with her family. I seriously cried so much, not because I was sad, but because someone was kind enough to invite me to their home so I wouldn’t spend the holidays by myself. Emma, you and your family were the highlight of my year. I cannot thank you enough for taking me in during the Holidays. I love you guys so much.
Once Nutcracker hit, I finally got some normalcy. My dearest Momma surprised me by flying across the country and showing up at my apartment without telling me. I remember like it was yesterday; Getting that Facetime request from her, the camera turning around and seeing my apartment address; Instant tears. I was so happy and relieved to see a familiar face and to feel like I wasn’t alone for once.
After all of my Nutcracker shows had finished, I headed home for the Holidays. I trained at the studio I first started at, and had the most wonderful time being home with my family. As much as I thought I’d enjoy living away from them, I missed them all dearly. After New Year’s, I flew back to the program, excited and re-energized to not give a shit about what anyone thought. The first class back was incredible! I was so much stronger now than when I left, and my teachers were very impressed with me. A gal from the Balanchine Trust was there to start teaching us Serenade, and I was going to do my absolute best to impress her and, hopefully, get a good part. The very first exercise she had us do to the music, I started my sutanue, and heard a loud POP come from my left ankle.
I fell slightly, and tried to keep going, but my ankle kept giving out on me, I felt dizzy and started to see stars. I leaned against the wall, and later left to grab some ice. I remember leaving the studio we were rehearsing in, beginning to cry, and running into two of the company dancers. I think that is the only time I ever received any kindness from anyone at the studio. They asked what was wrong and if I needed any help. At this point, I could barely walk and could not stop crying. One of them left to get me some ice while the other grabbed one of the teachers in our rehearsal. I had to sit with an icepack on my ankle for the rest of the day. By the time I got home, my ankle had swelled up to where I couldn’t see my ankle bone and it hurt to stand or move my left foot. I took some Advil, went to bed and hoped that it would be normal the next morning.
I woke up at 4 AM in horrible pain and to a black and blue foot. I called my mom, freaking out and crying, asking her what I should do. I lived only a few blocks away from the Hospital, so Jenny drove me there on her way to the studio. I’d given the studio a call before I was taken back to a room and they said someone would be available to pick me up when I was done. I got checked in, they did and X-ray, and came to the conclusion that I had a 2nd Degree Ankle Sprain, I needed to be put in an air cast and on crutches for 3 – 4 months. It was beyond devastating to be told that I could not dance for 4 months. I was doing so well that first day! It felt like my worst nightmare was coming true.
I called the studio back to ask when someone could come pick me up; I was told that nobody was available and that I would either have to get on a bus or walk. I mentioned that I was on crutches and I was given the same answer, but with less of a kind attitude. As I left the Hospital and hobbled over to a bus stop; I lost it. I was crying uncontrollably over my ankle, and having a hard time dragging my heavy dance bag while trying to work crutches for the first time in my life. I called my mom while I waited and told her the news and she tried her best to comfort me. We said our goodbyes as a bus pulled up. I hobbled onto the bus, still crying, and tried to pull out my wallet to pay for a bus ride for the first time in months. The bus driver tapped me on my shoulders and said my ride was on him. He was the kindest person I ran into that day.
I finally got to the studio about 3/4 of the way through our technique class and a few of my classmates were shocked to see me with crutches. A few of them comforted me while I sat with an ice pack on my ankle and watched the rehearsals for Serenade. I took notes whenever I could of corrections people would get while rehearsing, as well as the spacing of the whole ballet. My roommate, Jenny, was semi-forced to give me a ride to and from the studio with my new disability and I could feel things getting much worse. I was not included in anything my roommate was doing, even when she would invite people over. The tension in the apartment grew very thick and she became quite mean; Telling me things like I should just go home because my ankle wasn’t going to get any better. I hadn’t really ever experienced extreme stress or anxiety before I moved away. I was stressed out at the studio because I had no friends, I couldn’t dance, and was pretty much useless to the program. I was stressed out at the apartment because Jenny would get pissed off if I didn’t immediately put my dishes in the dishwasher.
Easter and Spring Break came around, and again, Jenny left to go back home and I was alone in the apartment. I didn’t mind it as much this time as Easter wasn’t really something I ever took seriously. I spent the entirety of our two-week break cleaning the apartment. I thought that maybe having Jenny come home to a spotless apartment would lighten the mood a little bit and maybe get us talking again. I was so happy when she arrived to the apartment and loved how clean it was. She thanked me a ton and I thought things would start getting better. A few days after Spring break was over, Jenny had told me that, despite our earlier conversations, she would not be resigning the lease with me, and that she was looking for new roommates to take my place; Basically kicking me out of the apartment as soon as the year was over… Anyone notice a trend going here? That nothing ever got better?
I was finally given the go-ahead to start taking classes again, but only as much as I could handle pain-wise. I was trying not to get upset over the fact that I wasn’t speaking to anyone, I was back to eating lunch by myself in the locker room again. I was feeling so stressed and anxious that I started getting sick. Once a week I would wake up and violently vomit all day. It was horrible, and the worst part was that I never registered that it was due to stress and anxiety. I was fully back on pointe towards the end of March and was marking all of the choreography in the corner of a studio. Again, still keeping to myself, trying to catch up to everyone else and not thinking about where the hell I was going to live next year.
I was nearly sure I was going to get kicked out of the program with how ill I was becoming until one single day in rehearsals. The girl I had been shadowing had gotten the flu, and I was told to rehearse in her place after our technique class. I used my lunch break to go over the choreography by myself, and asking fellow dancers questions if I needed to. Rehearsal time came around and I was un-enthusiastically told to try not to run into anybody.
I will have to gloat and say this is one of my proudest moments in the entire program. With never running it full-out ever before, I did the entire piece full-out perfectly; Spacing, timing and all. When we had finished the very last act (the one where the guys are holding up the main gal and the 6 girls are following behind), my teacher started clapping and so did everyone else. They were all blown away that I had the ability to pull off something like that. They told me it was very impressive, and I mentioned that I wasn’t just sitting and dozing off during all of those rehearsals. I was pulled into the office of the two Directors of the school, and again was given huge kudos for my amazing performance. But I was also met with a huge concern for my health an attendance. I was missing 3 days of classes a week now with no improvement. I said everything was fine or something of the sorts. I was definitely not fine.
The tension between Jenny and I had grown so thick we barely spoke due to the whole living situation for the upcoming year. Our mother’s had been emailing back and forth about it, and how unkind it was to tell me that they would resign the lease with me and one other gal, then turn around and take it back. Jenny’s mom had told my mom that I was a huge burden to her and that she felt like she needed to “take care of me” because I couldn’t do it myself. My mom told me about all of the emails and I took things into my own hands. I bought myself a new bus pass, the told her that I wouldn’t be needing any more rides and that I didn’t need to be “taken care of.” We had a huge screaming fight about it and she did confirm that she thought I was a huge burden and what not. I turned around and basically told her to fuck off and that I just wanted to be left alone. Things escalated a few days after I took all of my belongings out of the kitchen and into my room. Including non-perishable food. I was getting so sick that my mom considered that Jenny might be poisoning me. At the time, it was the only explanation to why I was getting so sick.
My mom had gotten another email from Jenny’s mom, stating that I was leaving messes everyone and wasn’t cleaning up my dishes; little did she know, I had all of my dishes upstairs (packed in boxes) and had been eating off of plastic plates for a week. I again confronted Jenny and told her to quit it with the bullshit she was feeding her mom and to clean up her own damn dishes. We had another screaming match as I began to collect all of my belongings from around the apartment, Jenny following me as I went. She was screaming at me at how miserable I was making her feel living under the same roof as me and that it was no wonder I had no friends, along with some other bullshit that I have forgotten over time. I got to the point where I was sick of her following me and, again, told her to leave me the hell alone. She stormed off into her room and I was left shaking again. By this point, I wasn’t even going to class anymore. I was throwing up every day. I had diarrhea every day. I couldn’t keep food or water down, and my mental health was declining very quickly.
I remember very vividly getting a call from the school, telling me that I needed to call in every day I was sick, rather than not show up at all. I called my mom in tears, telling her that I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t stay in a city where everyone was mad at me, where I had no friends or family. That I needed to come home. After that it was a huge blur; In the span of 48 hours, I was packed up, belongings being shipped back home and on a flight across the country. To put it into perspective how ill I was, when I first started the program I weighed 105 lbs. When I arrived home, I weighed 88 lbs. I was bone thin, I had no muscles or fat on me left, and it was absolutely terrifying.
I went to the doctor the day after I got home, was diagnosed with Severe Anxiety and was put on medication for it. My mom is still iffy if she was poisoning me or whatnot, but we are pretty sure it was all due to stress.
The longer I was home, the more I was able to reflect on the situation. For a little bit, I thought that maybe I had over-reacted? Maybe with how sick I was getting, somehow I had distorted all that had happened? I hadn’t thought about for about a year, until I had reconnected with an old friend of mine. I had seen through her Tumblr posts that she was not doing well and reached out to her. We talked for a long time, and I learned that not only was she at the same program I had been, but she was one of Jenny’s new roommates. My friend had pretty much taken my place in terms of how Jenny had treated me, and it was so horrible to hear. My friend had been single out, had rumors spread about her eating habits, all of her friends had turned against her and it really hit me hard. It wasn’t my imagination making up what Jenny had done because she had done it to another; my friend. My very first friend I made at a summer intensive. Pretty easy to say now that Jenny is the kind of girl who would do this to anybody. Whether it be out of jealousy or spite, she would do everything she could to get you out of her way…
I swore from the day I got back home that I would never live with roommates ever again, even if they were my friends. I couldn’t trust anyone but myself after my experiences, and hearing what had happened to my friend. Luckily, the next person I moved into an apartment with was my boyfriend, now husband. I am still a little sad that all of my once friends are now people I have bad memories of, but I guess things happen for a reason. Some of those reasons I have now discovered. I later learned that Jenny had an eating disorder (bulimia nervosa) and that is what fueled so much hatred towards me. Because I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain a pound, and she would eat and gain weight. I really don’t like it when other people compared themselves to me because I do not have the same body type as anyone else, and our bodies do not work the same. Huge pet peeve of mine.
My best advise for anyone moving into an apartment with roommates is to not trust anyone, because in the end, nobody really cares. It was the absolute hardest lesson I had to learn my first year living away from home. Hopefully, this didn’t scare you all away from renting with roommates! I’d love to know if some of you have had really good experiences with roommates, and/or how you’ve dealt with conflicts with them. Advice for all the people!
This will be all for now my loves.