Saturday, February 28, 2015

Morning With Dogs

Some of you know that I recently had a change of address.  Unable to continue affording my last apartment (or, rather, unwilling and unable to continue accepting financial assistance from my parents), I have recently moved in with a friend of my boyfriend's and am renting out her spare bedroom for a few months while I attempt to find a better solution.

And I have not gone quietly.  I'll admit it.  I've been a giant baby about this move.  Once you get used to living alone like I have been doing at my last two permanent residences (ignore the 2 months of Flight Attendant training and 7 ensuing months of homelessness), it is very difficult to reconcile yourself with the idea of having a roommate again.  I am, of course, incredibly grateful to her for taking me in.  She did not have to, but hopefully the next four months will be mutually beneficial.  Meanwhile, my body is acclimating to the new surroundings.  Experience (and being a generally deep sleeper) has taught me that in a couple of weeks I will no longer awaken at the sound of her 5:00 A.M. showers or the dogs following her around the house before she leaves for work.  For now, if I'm lucky enough to be sleeping in that day (never a guarantee in my line of work), I stretch, roll over, and bury my head under a pillow.

…while silently thinking to myself how much I miss my studio.

Which is all good and well.  For me, though, I think the worst part of having a roommate is my constant fear of being a nuisance.  She is an extremely light sleeper so I am constantly cringing with each noise I make.  Last night my new key hook fell off the wall with an awful crash.  It scared the bejeezus out of me and I felt awful knowing it must have woken her.  Even now, I can't help guiltily wondering if the sound of my keyboard is disturbing her.

But again, I have to emphasize how grateful I am to be here.  If Jess hadn't been willing to rent out a room to me, my options were as follows:

  1. Continue to live above my means in my old apartment and eventually either starve because I'm paying rent or get kicked out because I chose eating over paying rent.
  2. Homelessness.
  3. Move in with my boyfriend and bring scandal and disgrace to my incredibly old-fashioned family, earning me their eternal disapproval and banishment.  Or something like that.  Emphasis on the "scandal and disgrace" part.  And the "incredibly old-fashioned" part.
Given that I kind of, y'know, like my boyfriend, I decided not to give my family a reason to hate him, and the other two options, well, aren't really options.  So yeah, I'm grateful.

BUT I MISS MY STUDIO.  I miss having my own kitchen and appliances and dishes and making coffee on a Saturday morning without being scared I'm going to wake someone.  I'm a selfish, spoiled brat and I don't care.  I miss having room for my furniture and carpet instead of tile and not having to share a shower.  Selfish.  Spoiled.  Brat.

Don't even care.  I'm 25 years old with a full-time career.  I find it depressing that I can't even afford a studio.  I find it even more depressing that I'm still sleeping in a twin-size bed.

But it could be worse.  In addition to the fact that I could be living out any of options 1-3, I could also be back where I was when I first graduated college, living with 4 other people with whom I had volatile relationships at best (food on the floors and walls, the constant smell of marijuana, threats of violence, blah blah blah, etc).  Additionally, in that residence my bedroom off of the kitchen in a very old Chicago townhouse was either once the maid's quarters or the pantry.  Probably the pantry.  I had a window that looked out on the live-in porch where one of my male roommates slept.  Needless to say I invested in black-out curtains.  There are things, friends, that you don't appreciate until you don't have them: windows, counters, bedroom walls.  Just for example.

So when I remember that, I start counting my blessings.  I have a bedroom door I can close, but when I open it, my new roommate is incredibly sweet and friendly.  She also picks up food if she drops it on the floor (shocking, I know), doesn't smoke anything, and has yet to threaten to punch me.  All good things.  She also has something that I have deeply missed but not allowed myself to have: dogs.  As someone whose job requires her to leave home for days at a time and barely allows her to feed herself, having a dog, however much I might want one, would be straight up animal cruelty on my part.  But I grew up with a dog in the house.  My first dog, Jenny, a golden retriever, was such a faithful, wonderful companion who used to wait out at the bus stop with me in the mornings before I went to school.  She wanted to be wherever the people were and was a constant presence of comfort and friendship.  My parents' second dog, English setter Wendy, joined the family my sophomore year of college.  I made sure to bring treats in my pockets when I came home and, more rebellious at 22 than at 12, I would sneak her onto my bed when my dad wasn't home (Dad does not approve of dogs on the furniture.).  It was all part of my grand-master plan to make sure that I was Wendy's favorite.  I like to think it worked, although I have no doubt that each member of my family would beg to differ.  Still, I have a special relationship with Wendy, one that revolves almost entirely around cuddling.  When I visit home she likes to sit on my feet while I put on my makeup in the mornings, or come down to the dock with me while I sip on my morning coffee.  And of course, there's no point in my trying to sit on a couch or chair when I'm at my parents' house, as I will eventually gravitate to the floor so that Wendy can climb into my lap.

My new roommate has three dogs.  Two Boston terriers named Lucy and Penny, and one boxer named Ella.  I can't describe what a pleasure it is to have animals around.  Science has proven that pets reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.  Having the dogs come scampering to the door when I get in and battle for my attention is amusing and endearing, and there is always a giant clattering of claws on the wood and tile floors as soon as I stir in the morning.  (I usually try to stealthily sneak to the bathroom first—there's barely room for me in there right now, certainly not four of us!)  Each of the dogs has a different personality, of course, but Lucy is particularly distinct.  She is much more reserved than the other two, and as my roommate explained, "will be the last to greet you when you get in."

"She's a little more cautious, huh?" I asked, amused.

"Oh no, she's just a bitch," her mom laughed.

Whichever one it is, it's true that Lucy is more quiet and stand-offish than her hyperactive sisters.  But she has a way of making her presence known.  On the day I moved in, she decided to curl up on a towel directly in the middle of the front door.  With every box I carried in I had to make my best effort not to step on or trip over her.  Now that I'm (more or less) moved in, when I get up in the mornings, Ella and Penny rush to greet me, and at first, Lucy will be nowhere to be found, until I return to the bedroom, of course, where I find Lucy sitting in the middle of the floor, staring at me expectantly.

I later discovered that Lucy sleeps wrapped up like a burrito in a sheet on the floor, and likes to burrow into blankets.  I developed a suspicion that Lucy is hoping to claim my bed for her own.

This morning, when I made my groggy trip to the bathroom to wash my face followed by a zombie-like trek to the kitchen for some coffee, I stepped over one of my bed pillows, which had been knocked onto the floor last night, not bothering to pick it up.  I fussed over Ella and Penny in the kitchen for a little while while the coffee brewed, then returned to the bedroom to get my book.  That was when I found Lucy, who was one step closer in her mission:

Not bothered by having her on my pillow (again, I used to sneak my parents' dog onto my bed.  This is no big deal), I decided to leave her be for the moment, and sit on my bed to read and drink my coffee.  It wasn't long before Penny and Ella, who don't like to be left out, were standing outside my bedroom door, giving me plaintive looks and waiting to be invited in.  Penny came first, nudging Lucy aside to share the pillow, and Ella, who is much bigger, came and put her big, slobbery muzzle on my bed until I scratched her ears.  Eventually, Ella decided to curl up and catch some sleep like the Terriers, but minutes later she got up again and left the room.  Curious, I looked to see if the other two dogs would follow.  They didn't.  I realized that Ella had hoped to go back to her nice bed in the living room which was far more comfortable than the bare tile floor, but when no one came with her, her face appeared in my doorway again, giving me such a pitiful look as you wouldn't believe.

I'm a complete sucker.

There was a small seat cushion that used to go on my desk chair sitting out of the way on a bookshelf.  Shaking my head and knowing it was much too small for her, I dropped it on the floor.  Delighted, entire body wiggling (Ella doesn't just wag her tail when she's happy.  Her whole body wiggles back and forth.), she came and tried to fit her very large frame onto the very small cushion and promptly fell asleep.

I returned to my coffee and book.

So I guess the moral of the story is that mornings with dogs is much better than mornings without dogs, and I'll get used to having a roommate again eventually.

ETA: Turns out my roommate has been gone all morning and I've been worrying about making noise for nothing.

No comments:

Post a Comment