A noose around my contributor’s neck

She drew a line in the sand carpet, my roommate did.

And there’ll be no stepping over it.

I’ve lived in the Amityville Houses of Horrors as far as roommates. Not lumping my roommate in with the mad ones, the insane ones, the truly bitchy and dangerous ones — all females, btw. Compared to them, she’s a Roomie Poster Child for Reason, Sanity and General Fairness.

But as we all do, she has issues, highlighting the truth that you never really know someones until you live with ’em.

= = =

The line in the carpet.

Shortly after moving in (a rental room in her house), I noticed the house was in need of cleaning, i.e., vacuuming and particularly dusting, the desert state of Arizona being the dust bowl that it is.

My roommate’s also suuuuper busy so I thought I’d give her a housekeeping hand.


When the mistress of the home returned from her errands and found me standing on a tall chair liberating 1/2 inch of dust from a picture frame, her first response wasn’t one of gratitude: “Why, thank you so much for doing that!”

It was a bold and direct: “You’re taking over my house!”

{For the record, I’ve had dozens of roommates by force of economics and not once has one complained about my doing housework in THEIR homes!}

A lengthy conversation soon ensued. I understand that we were, still are, new to each other and that establishing ground rules is part of the cohabitation process. I appreciate that she approached and opened the dialogue and let me know what’s what in her house.

In short, this is her house and cleaning it, excepting my rooms, is her responsibility. In her mind, coming home to find me dusting was an insult to her in her lax housekeeping of late.

Good Lord! The thought, nee the concept, never entered my mind — nor would it have! I simply saw tasks that needed doing and I did them and I wanted to help out a lady who’s super-busy and hasn’t had time to clean.

Per our conversation, I was no longer to clean or contribute to the house — which is SO MY NATURE, I repeat, IS MY DEEP NATURE TO CONTRIBUTE — except in my rooms and the kitchen. Period.

I may vacuum only a designated small portion of the entire living room carpet by the front door since it adjoins my room.

I cannot, however, vacuum into the adjoining 8 feet of carpeted path to the kitchen, a path we all use in entering the house, because it falls in the living room that is deemed her space.

Neither can I vacuum the living room just because I’ve got the vacuum out or I’m being helpful or thoughtful or it needs it. (With three active people and three dogs in the house, it could stand a daily vacuuming — not that I would.)

No. The line in the carpet is drawn. I can vacuum no farther than the edge of the coffee table; the remaining 90%, including the common pathway, I must leave alone for her to do.

However, in a dialogue that couldn’t have been more thorough and exacting in establishing house cleanup rules, as for the kitchen: “Have at it!” Her exact words. Repeated.

That’s integral.


A few days ago, I was mopping the kitchen floor, which, as an aside, gets very dusty with the dogs and people and patio door that opens to dirt right there.

The roommate entered. And burst out: “You’re taking over my house!”

Not a comment of gratitude. It was cutting. It cut me down. It disempowered me. It kneecapped me in both who I am and the need to be of service and contribute in the house we share.

And, significantly, it contradicted her enthusiastic “have at it!” in kitchen cleaning THAT WE HAD AGREED UPON.

Felt like I’d been broadsided. The wind knocked outta me, I hardly knew how to respond. There WAS no response. I was speechless.

Then, when my brain and mouth caught up to each other again, I said lightly: “This isn’t just any mopping. This is a special one.”

It was with water infused with the light of the full moon the day before.

It didn’t matter. She wasn’t listening. She didn’t ask. She wasn’t paying attention. By that time, she’d tuned me out. Possibly was stewing in her anger about how I was taking over her house.

I felt so cut and hurt that I got away ASAP and have felt nothing but REALLY bad since. Depressed and angry. A skoosh mad at myself that I didn’t speak up and REMIND HER that SHE herself had said “Have at It!” in the kitchen chores.

More I was and am mad at her. For being ungrateful. For lacking gratitude. For being cutting. For being hurtful.

And for going out of her way, albeit unintentionally, in signaling that this is not my home. That I’m a renter and child and she the owner and mistress.

“Respect,” she’d said in our extended discussion on house rules. “It’s my house and you need to respect that and me.”

Well, what about you respecting me? What about abiding by the ground rules that you yourself defined so clearly?! What about keeping your mouth SHUT when you see me mopping a floor LIKE YOU SAID I COULD DO instead of cutting me down?

+ + +

This has left me so damn depressed. And starting to scout out new digs. A mere 6 weeks after moving in.
{hoping for a reprise and miracle that a buddy’s studio will still come available next month; will know next week.}


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