New Year, new classes, new perspective, and new apartment! In 2010 I packed up my panties, loaded my furniture, boxed my wine glasses, and moved a few blocks away to a new apartment, my sixth location while attending school at UCSB.
After talking with friends and looking on Craigslist, I have found that moving around in Isla Vista is almost as common as is having a baby in Hollywood. With over 18,000 residents living in a 2.478-square-mile bubble, there are plenty of options as far as housing goes. So no wonder students tend to play the game of musical houses.
I am a true believer that you never quite know a person until you live with them. I’ll never forget working at my first job in IV, when a co-worker told me a story worthy of being featured in Seventeen Magazine’s compilation of most mortifying moments. Those supposedly real-life stories were interesting but I never thought they actually happened – then I moved to IV.
The co-worker had left her Isla Vista home for a weekend to come back and find something horrific in her bottom dresser drawer. The smell of “rotten cheese and puke,” as she described it, filled her room. After searching everywhere, she found a pair of her pants, dirty and wet, underneath a folded pile of jeans. In the end, her roommate admitted that she had borrowed a pair of jeans, then gotten drunk enough to fall and pee her pants. Disgusting, yes, but the most unbearable part is that in her drunken bedlam, she returned them to the same drawer without even washing them.
Of course, close friends do bare their true colors and allow personality quirks to rear their hideous heads from time to time. And living with someone is getting to know someone at its max. After all, it is often true that even those in the closest relationships, such as spouses, encounter trouble in paradise when living under the same roof. It takes compromise, respect, forgiveness, and patience, all of which I had little-to-none of this past month. Our happy hearth on Del Playa had turned into a tense mess and it was time to find new place.
Craigslist is flooded with housing for rent and housing wanted ads. The majority of housing wanted ads includes such phrases such as “chill,” “420 friendly,” and “somewhat clean,” which describe most any 19-to-22-year-old living in Isla Vista. But which characteristics make living with roommates a positive experience?
This one person tailor-made her Craigslist ad to ensure roommate harmony. First she describes herself in bullet points stating, “Me: clean, tend to adapt to roommates’ standards of cleanliness, respectful of others’ space, practical, genuinely happy and optimistic, queer-friendly” and adding, “I enjoy when my roommates have friends over, since I like to meet new people.” She makes it clear that she “enjoys cooking, running, movies (dramas/action films, not chick flicks), video games (one of those “Oh shit, a girl beat me at Smash bros./COD” types) and socializing.”
On paper, she sounds like a prospective roommate dream. (Though describing oneself as “genuinely happy and optimistic” strikes me as a red flag.)
Then she describes who she’s looking for in her future bunk buddy. She states, “(Ideal) You: generally clean, relatively studious, level-headed and hopefully goal-oriented, fun, outgoing, enjoys going out, friendly, non-smoker (420 ok), not SUPER partier (if you party 3x a week, every week, we probably won’t get along), but if you’ve got a good balance figured out, you’re good. BONUS: you know how to make badass brownies.”
Is this an ad for a future roommate or future life partner? There is no such thing as an (Ideal) You—you are who you are. The (Ideal) You is like a unicorn: It simply doesn’t exist. Living with someone either works or it does not.
So how do Isla Vista roommates keep the peace? After four years of living here, I have grown to learn that roommate situations can be loving, warm, and exciting. One year I lived on Del Playa with two of my best friends and shared unforgettable moments. Somehow, our quirks rubbed off on each other, like a version of the show Friends (minus the three dudes).
On the other hand, what may start out like a happy hearth can erupt into a place of torture. One of the main reasons that students become unhealthy, unfocused, or depressed being away from home, is because of living situations. So while the Craigslist ad for an (Ideal)You may make the author seem a bit fastidious and overbearing, in Isla Vista, when seeking roommates, sometimes you got to do what you got to do. If it means sounding like a super-freak on Craigslist, or getting the hell out of a living situation, do it.
All in all, living in Isla Vista with roommates teaches us to compromise and mature as adults. But I am 21 years old and I am happy to say that I am ready to have my own room away from the homes where beer cans are accepted home décor. I’d like to not think twice about ironing my clothes in my underwear while eating rice cakes and malt balls.
In the meantime, I look forward to a new apartment, a New Year, and appreciating our uniquely packed town, Isla Vista.