Max and I have lived in the same apartment now for a little over a year. He was actually a rather good roommate from the beginning, as he already knew to go to the bathroom outside and learned quickly what furniture he could get on.
Sure, he has woken me up at unfavorable times and doesn’t clean up after himself, but he is not the first roommate of mine to do that.
And I’m still waiting for the day when he cooks me breakfast…
Having lived in the same place as Max for a year now, I have gained some insight into the dynamics of sharing space and life with another being. Granted, such lessons come in various ways with any human or non-human roommate, but certain aspects have really hit home with Max.
Ultimately, Max has taught me the difference between living in the same place as someone and living with that person/animal.
Sadly, this lesson has revealed that I far too often display the attitude and actions that prove I am merely living in the same place as Max. We often go about our business with a passing acknowledgement of each other’s existence.
Such behavior is especially prevalent when I get busy with work and life. There are days when I run in after work, take Max out, feed him, and then dash back out to my next activity only to return late and tired enough to zombily take Max out again before crashing. These days I am most definitely living in the same place as Max, and not much else.
Of course there are many better days when I am truly living with Max – the days when we have a good long morning walk during which I am not preoccupied with the things I have to do that day but rather discover the world anew with Max, the days when I really play with him and show him honest affection (not with the end goal of getting him to stop bothering me), the days when we fully appreciate each other’s presence and realize how our lives are being made better through that company.
These are not merely the days I am less busy or at home most the day. There have been many weekends that I am consumed in a book or TV show and do not truly live with Max, even if I am around him all day.
The important difference Max has taught me is that living with someone involves sharing life and participating together in something greater than the two of us – joy or love or sadness or anger that we experience in solidarity. It means focusing on the other rather than myself.
Moreover, Max has taught me that this act of living with, rather than living in the same place, is what makes a house into a home. It is what makes a space welcoming and full of life.
So thank you Max for living with me. Thank you for teaching me the important difference of living with and living in the same place and for challenging me to be more fully present in living with you. And thank you for helping me make our little apartment into an expansive home.