On "The Hill"

A Very Very Very Fine House

April 24, 2017

The only thing better than being a grownup is pretending to be a grownup. Actually, that is a lie. There are a lot of things better than being a grownup, like a great pair of jeans, a whole milk latte, and getting the last word in a kickass argument. Also, being a kid. That might be better than being a grownup. But I am becoming older and, therefore, turning into a grownup in quite an uncontrollable manner—they call that aging, I think—so I am forced to come to terms with my fate and say that there is nothing better than pretending to be a grownup.

I have spent the last eight months of my life living in a house with my two best friends. This is not only the first time we have lived together, but is also the first time we have lived in a real grownup house together. We’ve all lived alone before—Jamie and I in cities like New York and Prague. Julia’s lived alone in Ethiopia, which makes her a much more interesting person. However, there is nothing quite like living, just the three of us, in the second floor of our big, old Victorian house for the first time, together.

Thus, I have spent the last eight months of my life learning a lot about what it takes to be a grownup by pretending to be one. I have been advised by many successful writers that you must “fake it ‘til you make it.” I guess this is how being grown up works, too.

Jamie, Julia and I have a pretty good system. Jamie is in charge of the electricity bill, Julia is in charge of the Wi-Fi, and I am in charge of the rent. I have never had to pay a homeowner’s bill on my own prior to this year. This is how rent works: I send our landlord a digital check on the first of each month for the same amount. This is what I have learned about paying an electricity bill: Jamie sporadically sends me a Venmo request, and I accept it and send her some money. I don’t really know what she does, but I trust that she does it. This is how an electricity bill works, I guess.

When we went away for a week, I tried to be really responsible by suggesting we shut off the heat to save money. Then I found out that if you do that in the winter, your pipes will freeze and explode, so you probably shouldn’t do that.

Julia’s boyfriend is really tall, so when he’s over and showers in our bathroom he adjusts the faucet to hit his head at the proper angle. Our shower takes some time to heat up, so usually we turn it on a few minutes before getting in. Once, Jamie showered after Julia’s boyfriend. She turned on the water and left the bathroom to get undressed. When she got back, she discovered that the shower had been shooting out at a perpendicular angle—completely overshooting the opposite end of the tub—for almost 10 minutes. And 10 minutes after that, our friend on the first floor called to tell us that their ceiling was leaking and they didn’t know why but the plumber was on his way and we shouldn’t flush our toilet or use the sink until further notice.

Julia’s and my rooms are separated by a door which sometimes opens when our house ghost decides to pass back and forth. This would be so fun if we were 10-year-old sisters, but I’m semi-Wiccan, so… there’s that.

Julia has a noise machine because she is a light sleeper. The walls between us are relatively thick, but the door is not. Often, I will be watching a TV show or a miscellaneous YouTube video alone in bed and laugh so hard that I cry. Because it is the funniest thing I have ever seen, I send the link to Jamie and Julia in our group text.

“This is so funny,” I write next to the link. Usually, neither of them respond or acknowledge it at all.

The next morning in the kitchen, I’ll tell them about the video. “I watched the funniest thing ever last night. You have to watch this. I was laughing so hard,” I say.

“We know,” Julia says flatly. “We could hear you laughing.”

In total, there are ten girls who live on the three floors of our house. Each week, we collectively produce four full bins of trash and three full bins of recyclables. Each floor is responsible for bringing its own trash to the bins outside. On our floor, to get this done, something magical happens.

The trash can in our kitchen will overflow, which is a telepathic signal sent from Jamie and Julia to tell me that I should change the trash bag and take the old one outside. This is the kind of telepathy that only best friends have. It’s a really great system.

My room is the closest to both the kitchen and the bathroom, which happened because we picked out of a hat and I picked last. There are obvious pros and cons to this. The pros are that I can eat as much as I want whenever I want without feeling ashamed. The cons are just as obvious, I’d say.

Last week, Jamie, Julia and I were sitting on my bed when Jamie said that something smelled really bad. Three minutes later it wafted my way, and I duly noted that it did, indeed, smell like rotting vegetables in my room.

“Maybe it’s the heater,” I suggested, because sometimes, in addition to making jarring, gunshot-like noises in the middle of the night, my radiator that was probably installed in Colonial times emits an unpleasant scent.

We smelled the heater. It was not the heater.

“Maybe it’s my sheets,” I suggested next, because, I mean, I’m not not a night-sweater.

We smelled the sheets. It was not the sheets.

“Maybe it’s the trash in the kitchen,” I said because I knew that I had not taken out the trash recently, which meant that no one had taken out the trash recently.

We peeked into the kitchen. Surprise! There was no overflowing trash.

“Oh god,” I said next. “Maybe it’s the bathroom.”

Jamie got up and wandered into the bathroom, followed by Julia, followed by me. Our bathroom floor has the areal dimensions of a gangplank, for reference.

“It kinda smells in here,” Jamie said. We all inhaled.

“It smells very bad in here,” Julia confirmed.

“It definitely smells in here,” I agreed.

Our bathroom cleaning procedure is not unlike the kitchen procedure where we use our best friend telepathy, which only best friends like us have, to indicate when it is time to clean. It usually happens when the drain cover in our shower gets so muddled with hair that the water in our claw-footed tub becomes a small wading pool, like the stagnant kind you wouldn’t let a child dip her fingers into. When this happens, my best friend senses tingle and I take the drain cover off of the drain. With a terribly disturbing sucking noise, the water goes down. Meanwhile, I sit on the toilet and use toilet paper to remove a combination of hair and some sort of goo-like substance from the drain cover.

Once the water has gone down the drain, there are remnants of the smelly, goo-like substance on the bottom of the tub. I go to the kitchen and I get our Clorox and a shitload of paper towels. I get on my knees and scrub the tub until it smells like a classroom after a custodian cleans up a child’s vomit. Bless.

Do you know what the three of us did once we were all standing in the bathroom, heads cocked to the side, smelling that putrid smell?

We turned around and filed out, detectives who had closed their case, and piled back into my bed, spare legs thrown across each other, heads on different arms and shoulders, pillows beneath our backs, and picked up our conversation just where we left off. The splintered panels of the wooden floor creaked every time we took a breath. But we could not hear a thing.



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1 Comment

  • Reply Laurie Spiropoulos April 27, 2017 at 12:04 am

    Hannah! Congratulations ? on your graduation!
    You’re an amazing young woman and a wicked good writer! Loved this!
    All the best of everything!

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