In college I lived with friends. They would let dishes pile up in the sink, despite the fact that we had a dishwasher. Last year I lived with a roommate who insisted on handwashing his dishes. He would leave soapy water and food bits on the dishes and place them in the cabinet, despite the fact that we had a dishwasher.
These things irked me, but the way I reacted to them was WRONG. I became a total worm, clammy and furtive, sniveling to third parties in person and in corners of the internet. My bitter recriminations would fester in half-private limbo, raising an ugly and unmentionable stink, like raw meat left behind the couch.
I never brought up the dishes directly with either set of roommates. I hid behind the Dale Carnegie-esque ideal of preserving harmony, but really I was just being a wimp. I started to resent the people I lived with for their perhaps unwitting trespasses. UNHEALTHY.
These instances were symptoms of a larger weakness – my penchant for avoiding necessary confrontation. In dodging these discussions, I have fed a lack of openness that is a hideous weakness in my character.
In my sour manifesto “Friendsgiving turns to Misgivings” I railed against the people who have taken me in and shown me great kindness. I was angry, and writing about the incident made me feel better. I felt like I could lay out my side of the story and make a case for myself, as well as admit a few mistakes. As much as it may have felt good at the time, and made for a decent piece of writing, the post was a mistake.
I never brought my grievances up to the Providence fam, but they did eventually read “Misgivings”. Last night, during a drunken walk home from the bar, I was confronted by Wilma about what I had written. Basically she took me task and I deserved it. I portrayed her unflatteringly, despite knowing that it would get back to her. COWARDLY. SHAMEFUL. Anyhow, she was magnanimous about the whole thing and I am thankful.
I was also taken to task by Mustafa, who I sleazily put in the middle of my little tantrum. Again, I deserved it. It was not pleasant – Mustafa can be very direct and forceful on matters of principle, but it was needed. I had to stand shoulder to shoulder with him and look at myself – the huddling reptile, sneaky and pretentious, attempting to use the written word as armor when in fact what was necessary was nakedness.
I write this in hopes that it will spur me on to something resembling human behavior. In the future, Glasnost should be my policy – it ended the Cold War, after all. I may find myself living roommates again in the near term, and if I do, it is imperative that I bring things up, phrase them gracefully and practice conflict resolution. To put it another way, I need to grow some sex organs and act like a member of society. Acting like a dour teenager has gotten me nowhere. Perhaps I have learned a bit about judging people’s actions separately from their character, building cases, and seeing both sides of the issue, but these are really groundwork for the real action, which is the confrontation – the town meeting, the debate, the house powwow. THIS IS SOMETHING I MUST LEARN IN ORDER TO BE A FUNCTIONAL ADULT.
To the Providence fam, I owe an apology. Perhaps they owed me one once, but I aborted any right to it when I took my case to the internet instead of them. Will I never write about people I know again? Absolutely not. It’s my prerogative as a writer to tell stories and attempt to find some viewing angle on the truths of life. I will however avoid using my words as surreptitious political tools for the macabre arts of self-justification – at least until after I have actually raised my voice to the parties involved.