Prior to graduating from college, my assumption was that entering adulthood meant settling down with a full-time job and a husband, maybe some kids. Turns out, transitioning into a full-fledged adult takes time.
My college years were blessed with wonderful roommates. With the exception of the fluke semester I spent in a dorm with a psychology major who ate crunchy Asian noodles for breakfast while watching “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” my cohabitation experiences were excellent, and by senior year I was sharing an apartment with two girl friends who shared an understanding: If you finish the milk, you replace it. Our study habits were similar, and our boyfriends got along well enough to entertain themselves while we gorged on pepperoni pizza and “Say Yes to the Dress” marathons. Roommates were synonymous with friends, and the thought that this didn’t necessarily hold true in the adult world never crossed my mind.
In an attempt to save some money and make a friend or two, when I arrived in Charlottesville I moved into a house with two girls whom I found on Craigslist. With its one bathroom, thin walls, and not nearly enough counter space, the house could not have been intended for more than two. Turns out, “two girls” actually meant “two girls, their boyfriends, and occasionally their children.”
After a couple months, I ran out of responses to “He probably ate it because he didn’t know whose it was,” and concluded that my own sanity was far more valuable than saving a few bucks, so I ventured out to hunt for my first apartment.
I now come home to a kitchen still full of the food I bought, can take a shower whenever I feel like it, and am lucky enough to have a friendly, laidback landlord who fixes my garbage disposal promptly and doesn’t mind when my neighbors and I transplant a bush in the yard to begin a vegetable garden.
Immediately upon relocating to an apartment where I wouldn’t have to clean up after four other adults, I made my next adult move: I got a pet.
Adopting my 2-year-old tortoiseshell calico, Sooki (affectionately named after a “Gilmore Girls” character), was a surprisingly smooth process. My editor, who doubles as one of my closest friends in town, shares my secret desire to become a crazy cat lady, and helped me bypass rows of SPCA cages until finding the slightly neurotic multicolored cat with white paws who immediately licked my hand and stole my heart.
Sooki is by far the best roommate I’ve had in Charlottesville. I have to clean up after her, but she doesn’t have opposable thumbs.
Because I have not yet reached crazy cat lady status, establishing a circle of friends was a priority when I moved here. But no one told me how challenging it is to make friends as a young adult. Shockingly, my short-lived house-sharing did not lead to lifelong friendships, so I was left to my own devices and won’t pretend that it wasn’t a struggle at first.
As an introvert who occupationally functions as an extrovert, developing new friendships was daunting. But after a few months of striking up conversations with strangers at Skybar, bonding with fellow reporters inside the Rotunda at 2am, and attending Fridays After Five with radio cohorts, I’m beginning to build a core of companions, which I so sorely missed after graduating.
I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a full-fledged grownup yet. I still find myself eating popcorn and string cheese for dinner on occasion, and I can’t get out of bed without hitting “Snooze” six times. But I couldn’t imagine taking these baby steps toward adulthood anywhere other than Charlottesville, which is beginning to feel like home.