Saturday, February 24, 2024

Dual columns: Dear messy roommate, dear clean roommate

February 27, 2020
<p>Illustrated by State News Staff.</p>

Illustrated by State News Staff.

Sometimes, living with a roommate requires compromise. State News reporters Karly Graham and SaMya Overall wrote letters to their roommates — one from the perspective of a messy roommate and one from the perspective of a clean roommate.


To my lovely but messy roommate,

This isn’t a breakup letter. Really, it isn’t. But we need to talk about us.

You’re an amazing person to have in my life. You’ve been a shoulder to cry on, a friend to laugh with and a partner in crime.

I’ve learned to ignore most of your peculiar habits — sleeping with the fan on (you need the noise), procrastinating doing your homework (if it isn’t due tomorrow, you’ll do it tomorrow) and even your intolerance for my natural indifference (you need me to say something).

But I can’t ignore the messiness anymore.

It started subtly. It was a brush left out here and there or a napkin that ever-so-slightly missed the waste bin. It was your desk overflowing with graded essays, opened envelopes and paper crumpled up in frustration.

Then it became bigger. Your clothes started to take up more of the floor than the floor itself. The one napkin became two napkins, which became an abundance of napkins. Your desk and my desk were taken over by endless papers and you now have a designated corner of my desk for your stuff.

I was angry and annoyed. How can someone allow their things to be everywhere and not be uncomfortable? Then I realized you probably felt the same way. How can someone need everything to be clean all the time?

I understand I can be a “neat freak.” I understand I am always sweeping and rearranging and wiping and dusting, and it’s worse when I’m stressing. I’m not perfect, but I need you to meet me halfway.

We don’t have to live in a crystal-clean room. But we shouldn’t have to live in a pigsty. There has to be a healthy medium.

You can leave your brush out when you wake up late. You can leave your shoes in the middle of the floor for me to trip over — I’m clumsy anyway. I don’t care about how your desk looks — that’s your space. In return, I will continue to constantly sweep the floor, but I’ll ease off the tweaking, fixing, sanitizing and dusting unless it’s my desk, aka my space.

We are different. I find cleanliness comforting, but you find it abnormal. I find clutter stressful, but you find it homey.

However, this difference doesn’t change our similarities. We still love yelling at President Fitzgerald Grant III from Scandal while  enjoying our combos from Sparty’s. We enjoy racing to get ready before a party and rapidly trying to close the elevator to avoid sharing the elevator with people we don’t know.

This isn’t my breakup letter to you, my messy roommate. It’s an offer to compromise on our natural differences.

All the love,

SaMya Overall, your clean roommate


Support student media! Please consider donating to The State News and help fund the future of journalism.

Dear clean roommate,

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I struggle to keep my side of the room clean while you maintain the motivation each morning to nicely make your bed with one swift fold. 

I’m sorry I have a heap of papers and makeup palettes piled on top of my desk — I’ve expressed this before, but flat surfaces will always be my kryptonite. 

I don’t know where I’d be without you. Probably living surrounded by piles of my dirty clothes. 

I respect that you’re a clean person, because I don’t have the energy to be one. I try my best, and believe it or not, what you see is better than what others have seen. 

But wow, I’m sorry. You’ve seen the worst sides of me throughout our time living together. 

But despite all of that, we continue to have a good time. 

When I spent days on my futon after experiencing a terrible illness, you let me keep my crackers and Gatorade next to me on the ground because they were easier for me to reach than in the snack bin located directly next to the tragically uncomfortable piece of dorm furniture. 

When we became the designated hostesses for our friend group’s gatherings, you don’t bat an eye when we walk to the community bathroom to wash the pop residue out of the bottom of the cups used the night before. 

I think you’re awesome. I commend your innate ability to determine the best organizational systems for our belongings to exist in a shared space. I think it is safe to say we are the Command Hook queens of Shaw Hall, and quite frankly, there is nobody else with whom I would like to rule with an iron fist. 

Unfortunately, I don’t think there is much we can do to save myself from returning to my messy habits. 

I will continue to let my laundry fill up my hamper in the closet and I will continue to leave a collection of water bottles up on the shelves near my bed. 

I’m not proud. I can almost guarantee my grandparents — who made it a weekly routine to check the cleanliness of my room before treating me to lunch — are rolling in their graves. 

For each folded blanket and trip to get a vacuum, I appreciate your patience with me and the messes I create.

I think it is very fitting that I — a person who typically does not have my life together — create messes, and you — a person who will not stand for less than they want — clean them up. 

My dear clean roommate, you have been my rock. 

Thank you for that. But mostly, thanks for agreeing to do it all again next year. 

With endless love,
Karly Graham, your messy roommate


Share and discuss “Dual columns: Dear messy roommate, dear clean roommate” on social media.