It’s 8:00 PM on the longest day of the year and I’m sitting alone in my inner Richmond District apartment. Sex & the City is playing on my iPad and I’m half listening to the sound of Carrie Bradshaw singing a line from The Way We Were.
I take a moment to look out of the bay windows of my living room, smile at the sight of the red-shingled roof across the way, before noticing that I’ve strewn the throw pillows hap-hazzardly on the adjacent sofa.
Their smashed shapes cause me to feel a slight discomfort at the edge of my mind. They’re reminding me of a thought I had the other day as I sat on another sofa in a dark loft in Potrero Hill.
In Potrero Hill, I sat on the dark gray cushions of the sectional, my feet tucked up to my right side. My best friend and I had just finished putting the two boys we babysat to sleep and were now watching a particularly exciting episode of The Real Housewives of New York.
Usually, these reality shows are a welcome distraction. I love how invested I can become in the unimportant—not to mention staged—lives of these privileged strangers. It is oh, so relaxing. But this night, as the sound of an engine pulled into the culdesac outside the apartment’s floor-to-ceiling glass windows, I felt something else.
As you are probably all well aware, anxiety is a daily occurrence in my life. Of course, rather than confide in a professional or go on medication, I choose to talk my friends’ ears off, and when that doesn’t work? I self-medicate with anything from a plate full of brownies to binge-watching friends to a weekend’s worth of gimlets all in one night… all of which, of course, always results in more anxiety, but that’s a whole other story.
So I was sitting there watching The Real Housewives and suddenly this sharp anxiety was brought on by the politically-obsessed, cougar, author princess Carol Radziwill.
It wasn’t anything she said. It was just the entire setting in which we found her in. She was sitting on a sofa (*I’m realizing there’s a lot of sofa sitting in this post) in her penthouse loft with leopard throw pillows and a fantastic coffee table. To seal the deal, two tiny kittens hopped about playfully and her puppy wagged his little tail happily at home in the space.
As I stared up at the screen in the dark loft (in which I was merely a guest), my stomach suddenly sank. This, of course, was probably a good thing since I have a bachelorette party in a month and had not only finished the boys’ pasta dinner but had also snuck into the cabinets to eat a variety of snacks. Still, abated hunger aside, didn’t enjoy this sudden rush of panic.
You see, I had suddenly realized the one difference between Carol’s life and my own. Okay, so not the only difference, but this one seemed pretty important. As I saw how much the interiors reflected the princess’s personality, I was shocked to realize that I would never (at least not in San Francisco) have that. I will never have my own place.
At least not until I am in my late-30s, early-40s, and even then! I am a writer (with some public relations experience) who has no significant other and probably never will. This means that for the rest of my adult life, I will live with roommates.
Don’t get me wrong. I adore having roommates now. Even as I approach my thirties, I love the fact that it’s not always my turn to buy the toilet paper and paper towels, that there’s three of us to unload the dishwasher, and that on the rare occasion I drink a bit too much (very, very, very rare… cough, cough), I wake up and am immediately reassured that nothing I did the previous evening will be held against me. It doesn’t get better than that.
BUT, when it comes to the next ten years of my life, I don’t exactly picture myself living in a San Francisco apartment with at least two other people. No. I imagine my own studio that allows for guests at any hour and screams of my personal aesthetic. Of course, it will be messy, but in my own oh, so chic way. Okay, so it will probably just be really messy, but I’ll totally be able to shove all of that clutter into hiding whenever necessary. Isn’t that what having a grown-up life is supposed to be like?
But, if I’m being realistic—and I’m a Capricorn so I like my reality checks like I like my collagen pills, twice daily with food—this will not be the case.
If my track record holds true, I will be a roommate for the rest of my godforsaken life! See, there’s no possible way to afford a one bedroom or studio by myself, so the only “adult” apartment I can own would have to be shared with a boyfriend. Now, I have never felt the need to chase after monogamy (and that goes for polygamy, folygamy, and all the ‘amies), and I don’t see myself ever settling down.
I have gotten over any problems I had with that scenario long ago, but now, this thought is suddenly causing me to question my choices (in all aspects of my life). Does staying single mean I’ll never have an apartment of my own? Was my father right when he scoffed at my choice of Creative Writing as a college major? And, if am going to be a roommate for the rest of my natural born life, does this redefine my definition of adulthood? Does it redefine me??
It’s been four years now since I moved to San Francisco. During this time, I’ve always felt that though I love living here, it’s a temporary place; San Francisco is a place I will live until I’ve made a name for myself career-wise. It’s a temporary place that I’ll live in my twenties until I find someone to marry. It’s a temporary place for me to get my cosmopolitan fix until I’m ready to raise a family on shave ice, aunty beach days, and words like “bocha bocha” aka before I move home to Hawai’i.
Now, as I start to realize that I will probably never have children and that I’m okay with that, San Francisco has become more permanent. It’s the city that I’ve chosen as the place where I will spend my life.
But it is also the city with the highest rent… in the nation? In the world? I know there have been plenty of infographics on the topic, but I can tell you it’s damn expensive and writing doesn’t pay. So here’s my question: Am I going to be a sixty-year-old roommate? If so, what does that mean? Will I still call my purple-haired, walker-needing housemate “roomie”? Or will I be a last and desperate option for some optimistic twenty-something who just moved to the city in search of a bustling exciting life and found me on the next iteration of Craigslist? Help!