“Ouch!” I felt something like a bite on the back of my leg. As I turned to see what it was, my roommates all ran to me, gasping, speaking rapidly in other languages. Three of them were French, one was Polish, and all four of them were pulling at my shirt with panicked expressions on their faces.
Have you ever come home from work to find that your roommate is out and you have the whole place to yourself? When you’ve been feeling short on privacy, this is heaven. There’s no need to explain yourself, you can just be. But this NEVER, EVER happens when your roommate is under house arrest, because a) he will always be home, and b) he will be lonely and super-duper happy to have company. Throw in an addictive personality and near-zero impulse control, and you have the perfect recipe for an exhausting home life.
I used to live in the apartment building on the left. I loved it there. It wasn’t a swanky neighbourhood or anything, but I had an incredible view from my top-floor apartment with 180º, wrap-around windows. I called this place “The Penthouse”, or occasionally, “The Mattitat”, since it suited me so well that I could say it was “Matt’s natural habitat”.
After years of living with Boris, Celia and others, I finally had a place that was all my own. It was filled with all of the things I needed, and even things I didn’t. It was a peaceful place. A refreshing place. At first.
The sun had already set, and and the last ray of light was just vanishing over the horizon as I pulled into the driveway with Fordie Focus. I was pretty tired after doing 3 hours of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and I was looking forward to grabbing some quick protein and going to bed. As I got out of my car, I smelled smoke in the air, and was surprised to find that the front door was hanging wide open. The smell got stronger as I stepped over the threshold and greeted Laura.
“Hi Laura, what’s going on?” I asked as I dropped my gym bag on the floor.
“You missed all the excitement!” she replied, not smiling and visibly agitated. “The police and two fire trucks just left.”
It was a sunny, warm summer day when Jim and I sat in the shade of the front porch, sipping beer and talking about life. He confided in me about troubles with his girlfriend, and I spilled the beans about the challenges of life in my current household. He didn’t believe what I had to say until an image he couldn’t believe was burned into his eyes.
I had just returned from my Central American adventure when I met Carlos. I was staying with my uncle, and still getting used to Canadian spring weather and thinking in English when I saw a latin-looking guy in the grocery store. I figured he’d probably understand if I greeted him in Spanish, so I said, “Buenas tardes”, and waited to see where that went. Well, he did understand me, although he didn’t speak Spanish. His first language was Portuguese, as he was from Brazil.
My favourite place to live thus far has been the Audacious Antelope (not its real name), a small, family-owned hostel not far from where I work. The coming and going of international students, transient workers and WWOOFers keeps the social scene fresh and exciting.
It was in this setting that I met an interesting guy from Europe. There was a knock at the door one night, and when we opened, a tall, skinny, pimply Dutch kid with three suitcases walked in. His name was Andy Amsterdam (#68). We didn’t know it at the time, but our social scene was about to change.
The policeman flicked on his lights when he saw the little, red, subcompact car ahead. He could tell by the chaotic way it was being driven that this was the one he was looking for.
You see, this wasn’t the first time someone had called the cops on this particular person. The car was, as usual, going slow and swerving within its lane. After witnessing someone having such obvious difficulty controlling their vehicle, “There’s a drunk driver on the road!” would be called into dispatch on a somewhat regular basis.
I was 19. After a pleasant gap-year of working and wasting money, I moved to the big city of Toronto to go to college. I had to live off a government loan and a line of credit, so I needed to find a place with cheap rent that was not-too-far from school, and I found it. Saint Martha, we’ll call her, (#2), was willing to rent out one of two bedrooms in a basement apartment for $300/month each.
When I moved in that Labour Day weekend, I met the guy who had rented the other bedroom. He was a balding 30-year-old Russian guy, training to be a medical doctor. I knew right off the bat that hygiene was not his forte as he had that musty smell that deodorantless men carry with them, but the apartment was basically clean, so I contentedly unloaded my stuff with the help of my parents, and after they left, I chatted with my new roommate as I cooked supper on my new electric grill.