Lessons in gratitude learned while my sister was sleeping on my futon

Y’all, I am tired. It’s been a long couple of weeks. My sister was living with me for the past three weeks (she just moved out a few hours ago), sleeping on my futon and keeping her clothes etc in part of my room. That came with the awesome benefit of a $150 deduction on rent for both me and my roommate (yeah, I made my sister pay $100/week for rent. Life is expensive and also we only have one bathroom which gets crowded when three people are involved), but man am I tired.

The last few weeks have put in stark light two things I am grateful for in my normal life that I don’t normally think about. The first is having my own room and own personal space. I grew up sharing a (small!) room with my sister (this is difficult when you’re five years apart. That age difference mattered a lot more when we were in middle/high school than it does now) and lived in a standard two-person dorm room all four years of college (minus the semester I was abroad in Chile and part of the semester/the summer after studying abroad in Turkey), plus was in a 2-bedroom apartment with four people the summer after college. So when I moved to this apartment a few months later and had my own room for practically the first time in my life, I was stoked.

I’ve sworn never to go back to having to share a room—if circumstances change drastically and I can no longer afford it, I will move back in with my parents before sharing a room with another person (and yes, this might also include partners, depending on the situation/how different our sleep schedules are/etc, especially because I am the world’s lightest sleeper. If you end up reading this, future husband, this is me saying now we’re gonna have to have a conversation about this!). I am a grown ass adult paying my own goddamn bills and with a job I have to go to five days a week; I refuse to go back to the college student life of sharing a room.

Ah, how quickly we forget how great our creature comforts are. I’ve gotten complacent in the last few years, and having my sister living in my living room drove that home. Want a super unflattering example of what happens when I do have to share my space? Cool, here it is.

One night last week my sister was in my room Skyping with the door closed and I had spent all evening cleaning and cooking and grocery shopping and doing laundry and was just about to sit down and read in the living room when my roommate came home around 9:30pm. She went to the kitchen and got out dinner, then sat down in the living room and asked if it was okay to watch tv. My kneejerk reaction was to say okay. It was not okay. Instead of saying something like “actually, can you please watch tv in your room so I can sit here and read, even though I just told you it was okay?” like a responsible and functioning person, I fumed for a minute because you have your own damn space so go use that because this is my space at the moment and then went to huffily take out the trash and do some other chores because I had literally nowhere else to go. Thankfully the episode eventually ended and my roommate went to her room and my sister vacated mine soon after so I could go to bed because I’m a bitch when I’m tired and cranky and emotionally drained and don’t have somewhere for my super introverted self to escape to on a regular basis. Also I just wanted to sit down.

Ahem. I am super grateful to have my own room. I’m also grateful that the living room has reverted back to shared living space instead of someone’s room and that I can go in my room anytime I want and close the door. I am so very tired after three weeks of not having that.

Never in my life before this month had I ever thought about this, but I am grateful for the moment to be in charge of my own groceries and cooking and to be only responsible for and accountable to myself. Having my sister here was very different in terms of both time and money. Like rationally I know that cooking for two involves more time and money and food, but for some reason it didn’t sink in until I saw it for myself. Usually I average about $200/month on groceries, but this month absolutely blew that out of the water (I also didn’t ask my sister to pay much of anything for groceries while she was here because she’s not making much at her summer job and I felt guilty for charging her for food on top of already charging her rent and 1/3 of utilities).

It’s also really nice to usually not have to answer to anyone about my choices regarding food. If I’m not terribly hungry some evening or I need a partial meal before barre class, I’ll usually skip the real food and just make a smoothie. There are nights when I’m too tired or lazy to cook so I’ll decide dinner is just a plate of caprese salad. Or I just straight-up plan badly and have to resort to a frozen pizza because I’m out of food and don’t have time to go grocery shopping. Sure, I guess I could’ve decided some nights that I wasn’t going to do much for dinner and told my sister she was on her own so she could just make a PB&J or something, but that felt rude.

I also spent a lot of time cooking the last few weeks. Usually when I make something it’ll be enough for me to take for lunch for 3-4 days so I don’t have to do a ton of cooking over the course of the week. That’s not the case when a second person is eating the same food for lunch! Granted it was nice to have her around to help out in the kitchen with prep and dishes, since we did spend so many nights making food, but I am really glad to go back to only meal planning (or not) for myself. Besides, the only way I’m going to get faster at chopping all the damn veggies is to keep doing it myself (although you’d think that the three years I’ve been cooking for myself would’ve already done something for me…), and to be honest dishes is one of the chores I don’t mind.

Also props to my mother for years of grocery shopping for and feeding a family of five. Just thinking about that makes me exhausted.

I’m trying to be more grateful for the small things, so it’s been kind of a nice experience to all of a sudden realize there are pretty substantial things I usually take for granted. Now I’m off to go pack my lunch for tomorrow with leftovers that I no longer have to share and then read in my newly-cleaned room with the door closed! Ah, quiet.