When I started looking for housing in Salt Lake, it became pretty clear I’d need a roommate. (The holy grail of a furnished apartment in a safe neighborhood with a ten-month lease and within walking distance of groceries and public transportation just wasn’t happening within my price range.) I had my own apartment in Dortmund, but before that, I’ve had some good and not-so-good roommate experiences, from the nosy landlords to the single fridge shared by nine people (and one bread-thief) to my Berkeley experience of sharing a tiny, tiny room, to the awesomeness that was sharing an apartment with F. and M. when I came back to Nijmegen to finish up my MA. I remembered all the downsides of sharing a house: shared bathroom and kitchen, less privacy, having to be careful not to disturb others too much, being startled by house guests you weren’t expecting and weren’t dressed for in the mornings…but I forgot the unique thing about me and roommates: I tend to be prone to peer pressure, especially the imaginary kind.
My roommate is a postdoc at a cancer research institute here. She works long hours, and it makes me feel like such a sloth to not do the same, so I make sure to get up at a reasonable hour every day and go to work, instead of putting on yoga pants and typing on the couch. (Plus, there’s the whole, “I’m off curing cancer while you read books about Mormons” thing to make me feel inadequate.) So clearly her presence is a good thing when it comes to actually hopefully one day finishing the dissertation.
But then, there’s peer pressure take two. In the first couple weeks/months, when she’d come home, I’d be on the couch, reading or Netflixing and very definitely not hanging out with anyone non-fictional. If you leave me to my own devices, I’m perfectly happy to not go out of the house until I run out of books to read or food to eat (or, gasp, both), so I can pretty much credit that self-inflicted peer pressure for me joining a small group, as it gets me out of the house at least one night a week and allows me to pretend I have a social life outside of Skype and the internet. (The rest of the credit for my social life should be divided between my mom, who tends to very carefully ask if I’ve interacted with people lately, and OKCupid, in case you wanted to know.)
Which makes it all the more disappointing that sometimes, when I get home from social activities, my roommate isn’t home to notice that I wasn’t home. Being social(ish) seems like such a waste when there’s no one there to see you do it…