[Originally published in Dec 2009 issue of Bent: http://mag.bent.com]
There's nothing like living with someone to test a friendship. The person you thought was an innocent-as-pie virgin is revealed to be a hairy, hippy hooker who believes free love comes with small print and a price tag. Some friendships are made stronger, others disintegrate. Some you discover profound connections with; others you learn were best kept as acquaintances you exchanged 'You alright?'/'Yeah, you?' exchanges with in dry-iced nightclubs. And the length of friendship is hardly an indicator either. Some people you barely know can become your biggest confidantes, whilst those you've known for years end up running away from you in their underwear, in the rain, swearing to never set foot through your door again.
It helps if you don't live in a crack den. Luckily, I have a crowbar for removing the crackheads on a weekly basis (they tend to build up around the cracks in the bathroom, for some reason). Crackheads can be rather filthy and often leave their rooms a mess, so you have to make sure to rotate the crops at least every other month.
Living alone has its problems too. You can be lonely, insular, inert. You can spend way too much time on gay dating websites and constantly hitting 'refresh' on Facebook. There's no one to tell you what to do and shame you into the right thing. In fact, it might almost be paradise but for the fact you can't have a party on your own.
Living with family can often be worse than living with friends, because although you're less likely to fall out forever and you've years of experience dealing with each other's foibles, you also know how to hurt each other most. Sisters can complain about the time you smeared their cot in shit as a baby (it only happened the twice!); cousins bitch about you stealing their lunch money; mothers complain that despite two morning after pills and three abortions, you just wouldn't flush . . .
Boyfriends often work well together, so long as they have time apart. But if they see each other for more than two hours a week, there's that awful habit couples have of arguing. About everything. Should we watch X-Factor or South Park? Should we put the lavender bedding on or the violet? Is there a real difference between the lavender and the violet, anyway? Should we have a threesome? Who's that man you've been texting? Why do I not believe you? Why is he sat on your face?
I think it was Sartre who said hell is being stuck in a room with all your mates. But then, I doubt Sartre had ecstasy to lubricate his late-night social interactions. Maybe that's the magical ingredient for healthy cohabitation. Although, I'm not recommending spiking your housemate's Cheerios with methadrone just to keep your friendships together. I'm just recommending that you change friends as often as your underwear. That way, you won't have time to fall out.
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