The New Girl.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been on a mission. A mission to find a roommate. The mission began when I realized that I desperately wanted to moved out my apartment in Distant Land Away From NYC (okay, it’s not that far, but it sure feels like it sometimes) and make my way a little bit closer to, well, people who don’t have children. The town I live in is a lot like the town I grew up in, just a lot less wealthy. This town has lots of families, grocery stores, gas stations and two (!) Dunkin Donuts. It has a CVS and it has Catholic churches. It has a couple parks – one of which I live next to – and it’s cute.
What is doesn’t have is any semblance of a downtown or population anywhere close to my age.
I decided I wanted to move to Hoboken, which is this adorable little town across the Hudson from Manhattan. It’s a lot cheaper than living in the city, but it’s just as close to Greenwich or Soho as it would be if I lived on the Upper East Side, plus my apartment will be significantly bigger. I also wanted to stay somewhat close to work. Taking two subways, a NJ Transit train and a shuttle *one way* to get to work is not my idea of a good time.
However, finding a new place to live isn’t so simple. First, I can’t just pick-up and move into an already established apartment. I have a lot of stuff. I have my couch. My ironing board. A flat-screen TV, a dining table, a fully stocked kitchen and a really cute bathroom curtain of colorful butterflies. All of which I don’t want to get rid of. This meant I had to find a roommate who didn’t have any of this stuff who needed a place to live. Maybe she lived with her parents, maybe she was just graduating from college or maybe she was moving across the country.
Basically, I was looking for the me from last year.
I put an ad up on Craiglist. I said I was 22, worked in PR and looking for a roommate. I gave my pricing and a few requirements (no psychos, only nice people need apply). I received a few emails back. A couple people either were in the wrong financial bracket or they had unreasonable requests (such as boyfriend and dog spending every weekend there – uh, no. I’m moving in with you. Not you and your boyfriend.). A couple other girls seemed nice. They had steady jobs and were my age. I wrote them back and told them a little bit more about myself.
Feeling a little uneasy about the whole diabetes thing (said in a hushed voice), I quickly added at the end of the email that I wanted to let them know I had type 1 diabetes, but was fully in control (whatever, they don’t need to know the details) and that I had never had any issues whatsoever.
And guess what happened.
I never heard from them again.
Now, I know I shouldn’t be surprised or insulted by the disappearing acts of these girls. I mean, if I didn’t have diabetes and could choose to not live with a perfect stranger who had a scary chronic illness, yeah, I probably wouldn’t have written back either. But it still hurt my feelings. I debated whether or not that was really such a smart move on my part. I decided it probably wasn’t a great idea to be that up front about the diabetes especially since it didn’t give us a chance to really discuss it before they made a decision.
Finally, I received another email from a girl who lives with her parents but works in finance not too far from Hoboken. She seemed nice and we agreed to meet for dinner at Applebee’s. But I didn’t tell her about the diabetes. I figured I could eventually bring it up in conversation.
Well, it’s a lot harder to spring something like that on someone that I thought. Typically with friends and co-workers, them finding out I have diabetes never really seemed like a deal-breaker but with a roommate all of a sudden I went into panic mode.
We met for dinner during a horrible thunderstorm. Torrential downpour, lightening just miles away from us, and booming thunder that freaked me out. I came straight from work and only had my laptop bag, so I had to test my blood sugar in the car. I slipped my license and debit card into my back pocket and ran from my car inside Applebee’s using the United Nations umbrella from World Diabetes Day to shield me from becoming a wet rat (yeah, I still have it in case of emergencies – it’s nice and big).
When we sat down for dinner, we talked first about the apartment. What we liked, what we didn’t like. We talked about where we lived and what we did for a living. We talked a little bit about hobbies and what we liked to do on the weekends.
Then the Potential Roomie mentioned drinking.
“Do you like to go out and drink?” she asked.
This seemed like as good a time as any to bring up the Big D. I explained that I did drink and liked to go out, but that I didn’t drink a lot because I have type 1 diabetes. She didn’t know that much about it, so I explained that I like to keep my blood sugars pretty much under control and that I didn’t want to my roommates to feel like they had to take care of me.
“I like to be self-sufficient,” I said.
Potential Roomie didn’t know that much about diabetes, so I just explained that my body didn’t make insulin anymore that I had to take it myself. She asked me if I had that “thing” and motioned to her abdomen. A pump! She knows what a pump is! I told her I had one, and she said a girl she went to college had one too. Okay, so the girl has some experience with this. That’s good. We talked a little bit about our eating habits – turns out, she’s a vegan and probably has more restrictions than me!
After that, we talked about her dog, our favorite movies and books we were reading, and as we signed the receipts, I asked what our next steps were.
“Do you want to take some time to think about this?” I asked.
“Not really,” she said and with that, she went from Potential Roomie to The Roommate.
Sigh of relief.