By: Kris Price
Shall I start with the first door or begin with the last door? Should I tell you about the Pot-head Veteran or the ex-drug seller? Maybe I should start with the eighteen year old body builder? Perhaps I should talk about the New York lady obsessed with her dog or the vegetarian gamers? Or maybe the English-lit baseball fanatics and the pseudo Christian cult? I have moved five times in the last year, and each door more extreme than the last. Each roommate like a specific beer; can be an IPA, Lager, Pilsner, Ale, and even the occasional Porter. As I open, for what should be the last door, they have what all rooms have; four white walls, a light, and emptiness. I turn on the light and begin to fill the room with my stuff that has traveled farther than a suitcase full of belongings that never finds a home and all the roommates that went with it.
On this Labor Day weekend the sun peeks through the glass window into my room as I put things away in the order I like. I grab the wristband that the Pot-head Veteran gave me that was made from some green parachute material and, I’m pulled back to the time when I first showed up in Montana. See, they were all born and raised here…in Missoula. As for me, I hailed from California…and I didn’t know what to expect. Besides, I was here for my Bachelors and nothing more.
Meanwhile, I was thirty and they were all younger than twenty-two. At first it was a welcome and then they slowly started to fade because every weekend there was a party or some form of drunken sex. Also, people would just randomly show up at two and three in the morning. By the second month of school I was pretty tired of all the shenanigans, even though the Pot-head Veteran was a fellow veteran and I could understand for the most part why he resulted in illegal activities. I began to feel alone because I had left those things back in California when I was their age. So I told him that I would have to leave. And thus, began a series of never closing doors where I would find something or someone I could get along with and enjoy my studies and new life I was starting to make.
After a while I noticed that my blanket cover needed to be put on my bed. As I threw it over my bed I remembered that New York Lady had given it to me. She was obsessed with her dog and she never kept the house above fifty-eight degrees. Mind you, this was the middle of October and, being from California I had never seen snow. Let alone lived in a place that was this cold. She had given me the basement and, at the time I had no bed and, with only covers to keep me warm, it’s no wonder why I remember her. Life was simple, I was always physically cold all of the time and, with her being gone or paying more attention to her dog, we just never really connected on a personal level. Basically, she just kind of ignored me. All she really cared about was keeping the house clean and making sure I was still bleeding rent money. The stress level was mounting, and I just felt that because we couldn’t come to a compromise I left. Still chasing another door.
With another box opened, I pulled a Big Sky shot glass that they had given me. They were a couple, literally. A strong alpha red-headed woman and her psychology infatuated boyfriend who both loved to play their games and were constantly doing things together. So, this time I had my own room and this was now the second time I had lived in a basement, it had all of the essentials. This time I was going to try things a little different by trying to feel them out. And, for the most part everything again was good but, yet again things started to deteriorate. I would slowly be pushed back into my room, because they would just want the occasional “couples time”. They also didn’t like the fact that I worked until midnight, most nights. Mainly, because they were light sleepers and the stairs were right by their bedroom, the girl was probably annoyed with my selective habits. Even my eyes would wander and I would look at her. Granted, I was lonely in that I had broken up with my girlfriend about half-way into October because it had just reached “that point.” So, because of these things I, yet again moved. This time the emptiness set in, and it was like looking at the bottom of an ice cream cup and not being able to get more. Now it was nearing summer and they told me just two weeks before they themselves wanted to move. When I heard that, I began to think was it possibly me or was it this damn town.
Now, even though I had met many people and lived many places, the thought of finding anyone who I could vibe with I thought had disappeared like a favorite child memory. I was now on Craig’s list taking a shot in the dark. And about within a week I had a received a call from the English-lit baseball fanatic. Yet again, I descended to the basement which was where I always seemed to find myself before I was tucked neatly in a corner where no one would notice me, even if they had walked right by me. Now I grabbed a metal bookend that the English-lit baseball fanatic named Tim gave me and put in on the shelf. I got to know the three of them over this past summer and he had owned the house. Basically, what he said pretty much went. And, for the most part I was okay with that and, as a bonus they were my age and liked English and liked to do the same things I did… or so I thought.
Until one day I found out the TV was moved from the living room to the garage because it was messing up the flow of the house. Things like his alone time, reading or listening to the radio, which somehow would always interrupt my movie time. Up until that point I thought we were all getting along, but it seemed there would be more and more frequent noise coming from upstairs like the radio at two am or loud talking as if they were driving me away. I felt secluded and alone with no one I could really confide in. I just wanted to find someone that I could get along with and never again have to deal with roommates of such a weird caliber. As well as not being knowledgeable about baseball or any sport really, this made conversations short and non-interesting if I wanted to chime in. With that there other roommate was returning and I had to leave, because it was a matter of we just like him better. I began to pack up and move like the gypsy mover that I had slowly become and now was on to a whole other side of the spectrum with religion.
I had been in and out of the church my entire life and not expecting how the pseudo Christian Cult would react to my problems or really emptiness that seem to follow me everywhere I came before. “This door will no doubt open a slew of all new encounters and possibilities,” I thought to myself as I lay my bible down where it could be seen if someone was to walk in. I finish putting away my things in hopes that my crass language or even my smokers habit out on the back porch, would not lend itself to harsh criticism. Or there, “Sunday morning prayers” might convert my fake facade into their unnatural warming ideals. Not knowing what to expect or how to react, as I currently reside in the basement of the holy house. I can only hope instead of me trying to effortlessly please, maybe they’ll lean towards me and walk the line to accept me. But for now, rooms are rooms and people are people.
Occasionally I’ll talk to the Pot-head veteran at the vet’s house, or see the vegetarian gamers at work. And I’ll give nods to the English-lit baseball fanatic who I have class with two days a week every once in awhile, and others I never see. As I turn off the light and close what hopefully will be the last door, I’m reminded of the saying, “When one door closes, another opens.” Maybe this time, like all previous doors’ before this one, it will permanently stay closed. Maybe this time, instead of emptiness and seclusion, I’ll find energy and greatness. Maybe this time, the suitcase will stay full and never again be emptied out.