Strangers Aren’t Always Strange

“Don’t talk to strangers.”

They tell you that as soon as you’re big enough to toddle off on your own. Don’t wander off, don’t go anywhere with anyone you don’t know, and DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS.

Then you graduate college. You wander off to a new city, go to work in a place with a bunch of people you don’t know, and LIVE WITH TOTAL STRANGERS. Live with them! In your home where you sleep!

Okay maybe this isn’t how it works everywhere. Maybe it’s uniquely New York. But sometimes I’ll be telling someone about the girls I lived with my first year out of college, and how two of them I think I saw three times each the year I lived there and that I definitely couldn’t pick them out of a lineup, and realize that it’s actually kind of a really weird thing. It didn’t feel all that weird at the time – and honestly, doesn’t feel weird now. But I feel like it should feel weird. It kind of goes against everything they taught us.

For example, in September, my roommate of three years (a friend from undergrad, not a stranger) moved out to live with her boyfriend, and a stranger moved in. She was a friend of a friend of a friend, so I had it on somewhat good authority that she wasn’t a serial killer, but I had spent all of five minutes in her presence, when she came to see the apartment, before we were living together. (Insert lesbian U-Hauling joke here.)

ALSO she came equipped with a part-time-live-in boyfriend! They could have tag-team serial killed me!

But in New York, when you need someone to split the rent, you kind of take it on their word that they’re not going to cannibalize you or start dealing black market organs from your common living space. Sometimes it might not work out, but sometimes you find yourself feeling awfully lucky that the universe decided to cross your paths.

Five months ago, I didn’t know my roommate from a whole in the wall. Last night, I spent the evening drinking wine with her and feeling so totally comfortable it was as though we’d known each other for years. But with the added bonus of having endless options of conversation topics, since we haven’t had all that many chances to sit down and get to know each other one on one.

So maybe living with total strangers is totally strange. But maybe totally strange isn’t all that bad.

Besides, everyone’s a stranger ’til they’re not.

~ by Valerie Anne on 01/23/2014.

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