April 04, 2007
With a month’s notice, Calico moved back to Gallipolis. Much to her chagrin, it caused no drama, and I had a new roommate before she’d even started packing. I had the apartment to myself for about a week, and at first it was pretty awesome to be able to lounge in the living room in my underwear eating spaghetti and watching obscure violent Japanese movies.
But then my usual anxiety set in. I suddenly remembered why I needed a roommate in the first place. As much as I pretend to be a loner, I’m a social creature and need people around constantly. Being in an old house alone at night, especially if you’re prone to believing in the supernatural, is hard enough without having panic attacks. Bailey’s fear of house creaks and wind noises seemed almost logical.
Ah yes, the second roommate and boyfriend. As you may recall, he’d left for Philidelphia to spend Halloween weekend with his buddies back home. It was now well into January of the next year, and I’d gotten two drunken phone calls from him in three months. I normally have a crippling fear of abandonment, especially in relationships, but this time it left me with an odd sense of contentment. I no longer had to adhere to his schedule or worry what would set him off next. The kitchen and my bedroom no longer smelled like the back alley of a bar. Most importantly, I didn’t have to listen to another fucking GG Allin song!
(FYI, Rumor has it that the heroin he overdosed on came from West Virginia. I consider killing GG Allin one of the states’s crowning achievements, even if it isn’t true. Killing Hank William, though… we’re still real sorry about that one.)
As luck would have it, I needed a roommate at the same moment that Tracey’s fianc? Sluggy needed a room. Tracey was my dorm mate for two years when I first started college. My first impression was not kind. That first weekend I’d left my blank, empty dorm room to go see the Queers. When I came back from the show, the room was an explosion of tie dye and Chinese paper lanterns. “Granola Head” was still ringing through my ears, but now it was poignant and ironic. My bottom lip quivering, I came to the realization that I’d have to spend every waking moment for a year with a…with a…. hippie!
Thankfully, despite her choice of d?cor, she turned out to be anything but. We got along wonderfully. She was one of the most considerate people I’d met and didn’t mind chaffering my lazy, driver-license-less ass across town. She was also funny in an earnest, deadpan kind of way. I didn’t even mind that she was a morning person, and at that point I still had the Caffeine Monkey on my back. (Even though I’ve kicked the habit, I’m still not a pleasant person to be around until well after eleven) Tracey, her then-boyfriend Sluggy, and I quickly became an inseparable unit of friendship. When the first year was up, Tracey and I signed up to be roommates in the same dorm the follow year.
The next year passed rather quickly. I changed majors and rebooted my zine, Tracey graduated, and Sluggy proposed. Tracey got offered her dream job, running an established daycare center, right out of graduation and moved an hour away. She left me in charge of making sure Sluggy, who still had a year of college left, didn’t become a hermit
Sluggy and I became fast friends. Before he’d just been the witty boyfriend of my roomie, but I learned that we liked a lot of the same stuff: web comics, weird religious theories, saying obscene things loudly in inappropriate public areas. After awhile, we developed a hive mind and were able to finish each other’s sentences.
A few months later, he had a bike accident and busted his knee, making the five flights of stairs to his apartment eight tons of hell. When Calico split, it seemed like a natural solution to both problems. The choice also turned out to be quite fateful: the weekend after Sluggy moved in, his apartment building burned down. As Sluggy so eloquently put it, “If I hadn’t wrecked and Calico hadn’t been such a bitch, I’d be homeless.”
I vowed to make sure that a debacle of Calico proportions would not happen in the new arrangement, so the first night I made Sluggy and Tracey sit down for a long, drawn-out OCD rambling Real World-style house meeting. I made them spell out the expectations and concerns of every party involved with the house in painful anal-retentive detail. When I had almost purged my soul, I reluctantly related the tale of that first dorm room day. I could think of no worse transgression than accidentally thinking someone was a hippie and thus awaited my horrible punishment.
“Aw, that’s okay,” Tracey reassured me, “I thought you were a goth. I mean, all I saw were piles of black clothes and band posters-”
“But those were posters of Ben Folds!” I protested.
“We didn’t know what the hell a Ben Folds was then,” countered Sluggy. “And now we do. And we’re all the better for it. Now shut the hell up and drink your boozes.”
I popped in a copy of Invasion of the Space Preachers in the DVD player, sat down with my drink, and happily sighed. After so many hellish months, it was glorious to get back to what Weezer in one of my all-time favorite songs called the Good Life.
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Alexis Stewart is a thief and a shitkicker living in Huntington, WV. She edits the zine the Rhododendron Reader (a collection of Appalachian culture and weirdness) as well as the occasional one-shot. When she's not wielding a gluestick, she's making movies, working at her college radio station, collecting records, or stalking Ben Folds. Her column explores the weird nuances of the West Virginia underground scene from her command post in a fake fraternity called SKA House.