I am looking for a roommate.
The requirements are simple. Safe. Sane. One month's security deposit.
Must love pets. Must love a dog that will mark belongings until he is sure that you will stay. Must be willing to enter and leave the house as if leaving a rapidly submerging submarine, vigilant of the open door and the dog waiting for you to forget how fast he is. You will chase him down in your car until he is no longer on the road, and you abandon it, doors open, to run through a stranger's back yard.
He will not come easily.
The house is quiet half the time as I am in and out with restlessness. The silence is heavy. When I am home, I want to be out, and when I am out I want to be home, and nothing in between, only the driving, the music playing. I drive too fast. I forget to change my oil. I will call you from the side of the road one day and not say a word as we head back.
Must love children. When my children are home, there are no late nights. No company over. We all go to bed at 8pm because I miss them and I feel guilty that I no longer live with their father, and so they sleep all over me, kicking covers off in the middle of the night, wandering back into the hallway, asking to take a bath at 2am because they forgot they took one earlier. They open and close all the doors and wonder what the lights are outside. The house is always dark, as I've never gotten in the habit of keeping nightlights. I've memorized where the empty cookie box is laying on the floor and exactly where to turn to get into the living room, and you will too, eventually.
There will be much left unsaid.
Hearing me mutter in the living room about a shelf, understanding as I move it across the room that I have won the battle of where this furniture should go, but in winning this small thing, I have lost everything around it. The shelf stands where I choose and I lay my forehead on the kitchen table and cry.
Watching me tear out weeds until I am bleeding under my nails and then laying down in the grass and closing my eyes. What I see is not for you.
I've spent a long time wishing I were easier.
I've wished that I could change enough of myself that I am unrecognizable, that I minimize all the ways I don't connect with others, but I've found in the last few months that this was a lie I heard and believed.
You are abrasive, I hear. You are unlikeable and unbearable. And I believed.
I remember in my bones. I remember the loneliness. I remember the way it felt to isolate myself and wish that it would change.
A friend is with me. I hear her say "I'm easy," and my heart lurches across the room, teeth clenched, my breath leaves me
you don't have to be easy, I hiss, you don't have to fold into yourself until the world snuffs you out.
But I don't say it.
We want things to be easy.
I want my roommate to be easy when I, myself, am difficult. This is the catch.
We ask others to accept our quirks and flaws without understanding theirs. Because we live with ourselves, our inner worlds are rich with context and nuance making our own flaws grand. We can explain the way we are, explain away, make excuses, be kind to ourselves.
We do not give this same courtesy to others. We flatten them until they are composed only of simple, irritating flaws. We don't understand why they refuse to change.
Why can't he just listen? Why won't she remember the time?
Why can't he see me? Why can't she love me?
It spirals until kindness disappears and things fall apart.
I am seeking a roommate.
I am looking for someone who wonders in the night if he or she is worthy of the short time we have in our current lives.
I have questions.
Do you feel the ache when the weather changes? Do you feel the subtle drop in temperature, smell the embers from a fire and begin to take stock of all the things you did not accomplish? Are you trying to root out that anxiety, succeeding only sometimes but recognizing that these are the moments where life is lived?
Do you make your weird and wild claim on this earth?
Sunday will be my old anniversary, and when someone mentioned the date, I stopped breathing.
But things are new. The pain will come and it will leave again. I am looking for a roommate who can walk silently on that day, someone who will join me in the evening for a beer, someone who will listen to my conversation about the flowers and understand that between each word I am saying other things - this is hard; this season will pass - and in return I will listen and understand the meaning between words when he or she aches.
These spaces hold us all together if we will listen close.