Other than my immediate family and cat, I find it difficult to live under the same roof with someone else. It is like getting uptight when someone stands close to me; it is the feeling that I have to constantly watch my behaviour like the invigilator watching me during an examination, it makes me feel uneasy and unnatural and I can never make myself at home in the presence of somebody else. It is the pressure to observe the niceties, report my whereabouts, talk and acknowledge their presence when what I really like to do is to ignore them and not wanting to be involved in their everyday life or have them involved in my everyday life at such an up close and personal level. The exception with family members and cat is that they are the only ones on earth that will not take offence if I were to walk across the living room as if they weren’t there and through better or worse, the family sticks together.
I left home when I was 16 to study in England. I was arranged to stay in a host family, as most of the other students under the age of 18 were required to. After a few months, I made a request to move out to rent a studio flat of my own. I wasn’t unhappy at the host family who were friendly and treated me nice, I just felt uneasy and restricted and that I would be more productive and at ease if I could live on my own terms. I remembered my request caused a stir in the office because I was still considered a juvenile and not allowed to move out on my own. I pressed on however and in the end, I was allowed to move out after my parents gave their consent.
During the first year of my undergraduate studies, I lived in a dorm and that was HELL. The fire alarm set off every so often I was living in constant fear of not knowing when the alarm was going to scream and whether it was for real. Shower time caused a lot of anxiety for what was I supposed to do should the alarm ring? I hated that fear of insecurity. My dorm mates were alright but loud at times. I’ve never been to the canteen more than five times in my year long stay nor use the kitchenette. I established a routine to make life in the tiny miserable room as pleasant for myself during that year. I cooked in my room using a slow cooker and since I didn’t want to go to the shared kitchenette, I stored all my food in the room and without a fridge or microwave, my choices were limited to canned food. Not being a picky eater, I ate the same thing almost every day.
In my second year, I moved out to rent a flat with a female friend where we each have an individual room. I have known her in the dorm and while we weren’t exactly the closest of friends, we got along well. Things were alright until she fell head over heels in love with a guy who came over to our place and stayed over. At first, it was 1-2 nights per week and then it gradually became almost every single night. I hated the presence of someone else in the flat as it felt like an intrusion into my private life. I made that clear to my flatmate that I wasn’t happy with her boyfriend coming over to stay every night and our relationship turned sour as a result of it. We stopped talking to each other and communicated by leaving notes in the kitchen. After a year, I moved out, finally on my own 🙂
In fairy tales, the prince and the princess lived happily ever after. In my story, a happy ending would be one where the witch and her cat lived happily ever after.