Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm Living the Experience of an 18 or 21 Year Old, Day 92

I'm 25 years old, young enough that I haven't had enough experiences to be considered wise. But it's the experiences that define that, isn't it? I've had more experiences than people twice my age. I ran away from home at age 12. I entered the foster care system when I was fourteen. I became legally emancipated as a minor at sixteen. I went to public school, private school, charter school, behaviorally-modified school, Catholic school, (upscale and ghetto institutions) and been in halfway programs, all in tiny San Francisco. I've lived in foster homes, group homes, high level security live-in youth programs, halfway houses, parks, cars, buses, other peoples' homes, school, society's elite and the grungy ghetto, the list is endless. I have friends who have traveled the world and have gained a diversity of experiences I gained in a single city.

I was born into prominence. I had my own room. I've lived with people I have called foster sisters. I've lived with people I coldly referred to as roommates in a foster setting. Nothing was my own. Everything was shared. Privacy didn't exist. I was misplaced in a high security group home. (I know they all claim they don't belong there. But when your former foster parents advise you to attack one of the counselors there to be released that resulted in an unlikely arrangement that should've led me to juvenile instead of resuming foster placement and a dispute of misconduct circulated around my social worker that resulted in official complaints, I feel I'm in the right). And by high level, I mean heavy security monitored mostly by males who take advantage of unstable girls who are known to lie because it's the perfect place for bastards like that, an endless supply of girls with no one to answer to. I've shared rooms. I've lived with twelve girls! I've been strangled in my sleep. I've had male roommates. I've lived with a significant other. I've lived with friends. I've lived with other families. I've lived alone. I've had legal and illegal contracts. I've had no contracts. I've lived in apartments, houses, sublets, back houses, in-laws, luxury apartments, janky places, dorm situations.

I've had plans to move out since my childhood friend's mom has been alive. She died when I was seven or eight. I went through a lot, and yet for someone who doesn't let go of the past, I haven't thought about where I came from and what I went through until recently. I was talking to a friend who isn't satisfied with his current living situation. He has roommates and isn't allowed to have anyone sleep over. He said, "I'm 32 years old."It was painfully obvious to me at the time he was a victim of social conformity, that by becoming a slave to societal expectations he should have his own place by now. He's unhappy that his living situation reflects that of a younger person.

It's understandable that someone his age wants to live on his own but to feel like he doesn't belong there felt ridiculous to me. I was certain at the time that he only felt that way because of societal expectations. And maybe that's a part of it. But there's more to it that I didn't recognize before because all I saw was what was on the surface. Societal expectation is a distorted perception and perverse reflection of where people "should be" at certain points in their lives defined by our own actions. Humanity is too vast to confine it to a single structure, but there's an underlying truth to it.

As we get older and have more experiences, we move onto the next chapter of our lives. It correlates that as you get older, you should move forward. But too many of us stay behind for a myriad of reasons. In my friend's case, his lifestyle lends to a situation that's more commonly experienced by someone in my age group. Until his situation changes, he'll continue to be best suited for that living arrangement. I imagine it doesn't make it easier for him, though.

I was able to relate when I had my own experience that made me feel like I don't belong here anymore in spite of my lifestyle that lends to the very living situation I'm in. On some level I must've felt this way for a while. It's easy to assume that if your lifestyle can only support that of a newly emancipated adult that you on some level belong there. But after you've done it for so long or in my experience witness a contrasting encounter that reveals how out of place I am because I don't share that same excitement and vigor, it opens your eyes and puts you in a mildly depressing state of mind.

Some of my roommates aren't even legal to drink. Some barely just got there. In some ways, 25 isn't that far off from 22 or 23. But I went through the whole roommate process before I became a teenager. I'm long overdue for being independent, as in absent of roommates. It became painfully evident as I watched two of my roommate's energy spike up as their excitement grew over how to decorate the apartment. Since you share the space, it's very much an inclusive process. I get it, better than they would realize because I've gone through it a lot. But that's just it. I've gone through it a lot.

I'm sure I come off inconsiderate, and to a degree I am. While I don't make a mess of the shared space, I don't put much effort to clean it up as much as I should. I'm a hypocrite because I don't care. More inconveniently and rudely of me, I maintain a mess of my own area. Although it is my space and therefore I'm entitled to create whatever environment I see fit, how my space is publicly displayed does have an affect on everyone else who lives here. I just don't care.

My lack of concern towards them is affecting their first experience being on their own. I listened to two girls excitedly blab last night about their visions on how to make it more like home for them. I realized that I didn't share that same interest, desire, or passion. There was nothing there. I just felt this great divide grow between us as I realized I'm where I don't belong. I may not be in a position to move forward in life, so my only choice at the moment is to stay where I am. But I'm frozen in time. I'm stifled like my friend.

That feeling was made clear as my roommate persistently asked me if I wanted to use her closet because although she never articulated it, how things appear now is bothersome for her and for others for sure. It's understandable, but I'm still not interested. I don't like how messy my space is now, but it's authentic to who I am at the moment. Using someone else's furniture would be altering this process I'm going through.

Plus as much as I want to make this a positive experience for everyone else, I don't like the idea of accepting something I don't want. The fact that that event occurred made me realize how much I don't want to be here. I was a minor when I didn't have to answer anyone. Now in my mid twenties, I have to make considerations of my young and newly moved out roommates. I don't want to have to answer to anyone or be in a place where I have to make such considerations.

Some space became available. So after receiving consent, I moved some boxes in that space only to be asked if I would mind if one or two boxes got transferred into the closet. I didn't mind. As it turned out, all of the boxes were transferred. I didn't really mind that either because if I did, I would have vocalized that. But what that experience revealed is that this isn't the place for me. Even kitchen-related items were transferred because it is too bulky for the kitchen.

My roommates have all made new purchases that are easily accommodated because of the selected items i.e. small plates, utensils, cheap pans, etc. Despite the generous amount of dishes and utensils, their purchases are appropriate and space is available for them. Even my Japanese earthenware pot is too spacious. I have empty boxes for quality cookware from Emile Henry, too. I'm sure it appears like I'm being neurotic and excessive by keeping those boxes. But when you buy quality cookware, it makes the most amount of sense. I'm fortunate to have understanding roommates. They wouldn't ask me to dispose of it, but it is an inconvenience.

My quality purchases would be an inconvenience. I have a Scanpan skillet, All-Clad saucier pan, Demeyere saute pan, All-Clad 2 and 4-quart saucepans, Emile Henry 4 and 8-quart burgundy clay pots, Le Creuset 7 1/2 quart Dutch Oven, All-Clad stockpot, etc. I basically have a thousand dollars worth of cookware tucked away in storage. It would be totally inappropriate and selfish of me if I brought it here. There's way too much cookware and not enough space. Even the apartment isn't meant to accommodate such a generous selection. If I decided to be selfish, there would be no space for the other cookware in which case my stuff would have to be shared. I don't think any of us are responsible enough to take proper care of it because even my actions in this environment reflect that of a "young" person. It's telling that everyone else's stuff as they're building their supply is accommodated but not my own. I have enough furniture to fill an entire apartment, and my bed looks like it swallows half my living area.

One of my roommate was talking about the idea of splitting the cost for a bath rug since we'll all use it. It makes sense in theory, but I respectfully declined mostly because I can't afford it. That's more coincidental than anything, though, because that's not an interest of mine. It's a great solution and method when you're first moving out because it's the easiest way to make things affordable. I've been there. But what happens when you move out? Who keeps what? That's money you'll never get back. $3-$4 isn't a lot of money, and everyone's respectful. So I'm confident that it'll work out. But I'm not at that place in my life right now. I have my own bath rug, but I'm unwilling to bring it here.

Truth be told, I don't find bath rugs practical. People don't take care of it often enough. Even if one person uses it everyday as they step out of the shower, that's already disgusting. People don't fully understand the dangers and development of mold. It frustrates me when I try to share it and I'm shunned with the explanation that they need to have a neat and clean bathroom. But bath rugs harbor mold! They don't understand that, but they're also unwilling to. And I've been there. I understand. But I'm not there anymore.

I don't like the idea of living in a place where people aren't willing to hear me out because they have a bigoted notion about what cleanliness is when it's inaccurate, but majority rules. It's not difficult to place a towel on the ground and then pick it back up and hang it somewhere. Towels have moisture absorbing material, but bath rugs don't, not an efficient one anyways. It's a more mature method to use a towel because you're making cleanliness a greater priority and working for it, rather than leaving a bath rug that's dirty after one use and growing invisible mold by the third day. For them it's about aesthetics more than anything, and they do feel that it's cleaner to walk out on a protected surface. Towels offer that, though. It's not an interest for them, though, and I get it. I really do. Been there, done that.

I guess what frustrates me isn't their position but their reaction and selectivity. They don't realize that what they say they want through their actions doesn't achieve that goal. They don't know that because they don't listen. They don't listen because they aren't interested. I just don't like going ignored with the insinuation that I'm not being clean when I'm the only person who's offering a solution that makes the most amount of sense. If I placed the towel there and removed it at their disposal, they would still want something visually aesthetic because it offers comfort for them. A bath rug that's created for that specific rug gives them a sense of cleanliness, and it's about that feeling, not what's actually breeding in there.

They're at a place in their lives where they're interested in achieving a sense of comfort and living that out because they weren't granted those opportunities under their parents roof. I want that for them. It's good for them. They deserve it. I'm just not about that anymore. I'm more about the practicality now. They would rather entertain irrational preferences even if it doesn't make sense without listening to the advantages of the other side, and I let them have it. There's no point in engaging in a futile battle and crushing this experience for them. I wish I knew them when I was younger.

Now, honestly, I have no place to complain because if cleanliness is such a high priority, I should put the effort in myself, and I don't. I'm aware of that. It's just not the place for me anymore. I don't like having to answer to anyone and having the burden that my actions have consequences for the people around me, so my actions have to be censored. This living situation feels very much like productive adult high school. Everyone but me is on the same wavelength. They work towards achieving their goals because it's a mutual desire. We all contribute to the neglected mess, but I don't complain about it. I don't want to come home and hear someone complain about it. I don't want to come to it, period. I'd rather live with pigs who don't complain than hear them display their hypocrisy. They don't mind it, though, and for them, it's actually a productive process. Talking about it brings about change. Again, except for me, though.

The truth is that if I lived alone, I would be cleaner and more responsible because it would feel like home. I'd put in the effort to maintain that. Since I don't feel that way here, I behave differently. It's not fair to these girls who are experiencing their first time out on their own. In a twisted way I feel like it's a betrayal to myself.

I can do it, and I have for a while. I found a sister here, so this is definitely a valuable and worthwhile experience. But I finally realized why I was more comfortable in a place with growing mold and a room that shakes every time someone walked near it. I had my own space, not a great space, but my own space. I want home to be a quiet place I come home to because it's where I want to recover from the daily stresses of life. I'm too old, both physically and mentally, to socialize. It's more appropriate for me to find my own home, which means making necessary adjustments in my own life to achieve that.

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