For the months of January and February, my brother and I welcomed a very close friend into our home as a temporary third roommate. An adopted brother if you will. He needed a place to crash while he was in between apartments. Being winter and all, it seemed like a nice idea to have an extra person to come home to. Our apartment is fairly big allowing for enough room for all of us to move around without invading each other’s space. At first, I thought that this would be a nice favor that we’d be doing for a very good friend. I was a bit frightened that living together could be complicated. Miguel is an only child while my brother and I are in each other’s faces all day. Bickering is casually sprinkled between normal conversations and loving goodnight hugs. I think that Miguel freaked out a little his first week at our brotherly manner. I admit that the first week I was not entirely sure if our arrangement was going to end up working out.
As weeks have passed I have come to feel grateful for his stay. His presence has made a huge difference. Our apartment became more of a home.
Why? I thought you’d never ask, here are some things I learned:
- A newfound awareness of my behavior: Having a third person in our home made me a little more aware of my behavior towards my brother. It’s very different to have a discussion about whose turn it is to clean when an outsider is watching. You become more conscious of your childish antics and unreasonable claims.
- Being polite leads to being real: On more than one occasion we engaged in the formalities of asking about each other’s day. I realize now that this is something sometimes skipped between siblings. You’re blood— you don’t have to be formal right? Wrong. Because our guest was at the table, we were forced to engage in polite conversation. Time and time again, our conversations ended in heartfelt confessions about frustrations and feelings that we’d experienced. As the weeks passed, I began looking forward to having dinner with my “family” and discussing everything that had occurred. We’d each give it a go and then everyone would offer up some advice. Needless to say, my relationship with my brother has improved greatly.
- Hibernating doesn’t help: I became very aware that I have the very impolite habit of going straight to my room. My brother usually does the same by sleeping through from 6pm until the next morning. Granted, we are both very tired when we come home, but going straight to our rooms and closing the door isn’t a good way to end a day— especially when you had a bad day. Again, being polite made a difference and broke a very bad habit that we had been overlooking as a household.
- Appreciation is key: Many people come home to an empty apartment or maybe even a roommate that they don’t particularly like. I come home every night to a good friend and a brother. This is something that I have taken for granted in the past. I have two people who are happy to see me and completely there for me whenever I need it. This is something that I need to not only enjoy but appreciate as well. I came to understand that I need to check in with them. I also need to be more open when they come to check in with me. You never know what kind of day they had until you ask. Also, I’ve come to find that sometimes I didn’t really understand what kind of day I had been having until I starting talking it out… with my family.
I don’t think that this experience ended on a positive note by accident. Honestly, I think it worked out because each of us was very aware of how badly it could go if we weren’t considerate and careful. In addition to all this heartfelt stuff, Miguel got us to recycle, if you can believe that. It took the two months that he was here but there are signs up over each designated basket. There is hope for us yet.