Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Mel's complete and unabridged share-house. I have successfully moved to Glamorous Carlton, where I live in a little house with two sensible, funny, champagne-quaffing, art-making chicks - and a pretty black and white cat named Meep. I only realised quite recently how much I wanted to live with a cat. It is really silly to like cats because they use you and never really like you back. You would think my romantic history has given me plenty of practice on that front, but it still annoys me.

The last days of Wetburgh Street seem like a bad dream now. It was a time in which I didn't enjoy coming home or spending time at home. I hated the stupid 57 tram, filled with bogans and taking ages into the city. I hated North Melbourne, so close to the city yet far away from anywhere else I went or that my other friends lived. And it stressed me out so much to be a den mother to my four housemates, whose average age was 21. I was sick of being made to feel like the buck ought to stop with me simply because I was the person who'd lived there longest and was the one whose phone number the agent had. I was sick of being the only one who vacuumed common areas, cleaned the bath and toilet or did a load of dishes without quibbling whether I'd eaten off them. I was sick of the loneliness and instability of a house where people moved in and out every few months and hid in their rooms instead of talking to each other.

Here are the complete personnel changes of that house. When I moved there in April 2005, I lived with Lorelei, Hannah and Chimere, who were rock/fashion hipsters who had just moved to Melbourne and started a band. It's now a fairly well-known hipster band, beloved of certain Fitzroyalty bloggers.

To make the rent cheaper we advertised for a fifth housemate in about May/June and got Shion, a laid-back Kiwi lad who was doing a sound engineering course while working as a cook. I liked Shion a lot. Almost at the same time, Hannah and Chimere announced they were moving out because they had never really wanted to live in North Melbourne. So I moved into Hannah's room, which was the huge upstairs front room, and we got Ben into my old room and Kerrie into Chimere's room.

Ben (briefly known to my friends as 'Mel's hot housemate') was also a Kiwi, a little crazy in the coconut, who did graphic design and animation while working in hospitality. Kerrie was a friend of Hannah's who was some kind of curator, arts writer or other gallery scenester. She's also a friend of one of my new housemates, so I have to be careful what I say about her. But she basically hid in her room all the time and I never really got on with her.

Then in July Lorelei moved out with her boyfriend and Kate, who was studying international relations, moved in. Then both Ben and Kerrie announced they were moving out at the end of October. Shortly after moving in, Ben had met this chick who swiftly became the love of his life and he wanted to move in with her. As for Kerrie, I got the feeling she'd never really wanted to live here either, which was why she hid in her room all the time.

So Kate moved downstairs to Kerrie's old room and history was made... Chris, a blokey musician type from Newcastle, moved into Ben's room, and the manslave moved into Kate's old room. Thus began what I like to call the Golden Age of Wetburgh Street, which lasted for several months over last summer.

I think Chris, Kate, Shion, the manslave and I were a good team, and I would have been happy for the household to stay like this. I also thought it was really cute the way the manslave acted all blokey around Chris and Shion, joking about their New Year's Eve shenanigans. But Kate got a public service job offer in Canberra, and Chris got a job in Thornbury and wanted to move to Northcote.

Kate moved out in February, and to replace her we got a friend of the manslave's, Steph, who's a uni student and actress. I liked Steph and still do - I went to her 21st about a month ago. She was a real ally in the 'how-was-your-day' and TV-watching stakes. And I like her boyfriend too.

Then Chris moved out in March/April, and in moved Jacinta, who had been recommended by the manslave. He has apologised for this many times to me over the last few months, as Jacinta turned out to be absolutely unacquainted with how to live in a share house. There are even more bonkers stories about how she dealt with the final cleaning, hard rubbish disposal, removal of whitegoods, and the return of bond money, but I can't be fucked telling them again.

Around the same time Shion moved out. He'd finished his course, and he wanted to move in with a bunch of his friends. I was really sad to see him go, because he was funny, easy to live with, and cooked amazing food. We found it really hard to find someone normal to move in. At one stage we were going to get this insane Italian called Pablo, who was disappointed that we were not Mac users, and there was this other Goth chick who really wanted to move in and kept leaving plaintive messages on our answering machine, but there was something slightly alarming in her eagerness.

Eventually Aug moved in. He was an architecture student - I remember him commenting in a slightly impressed manner on Is Not Magazine's appearance in Monument magazine. I think I can count the number of times I saw him on two hands - he was absent for long periods of time, came and went at odd hours, and his room looked like he was camping there. We sometimes used to speculate on his sexuality, relationship and employment status, tastes and hobbies, etc. We knew that little about him. But he was nice, and always paid the rent on time.

There was a weird, too-late bonding episode on the Sunday we moved out, in which I found an injured baby possum around the side of the house, and while Steph and I stood there not knowing what to do, Aug gently picked up the possum in a tea towel and Steph drove the three of us to the local animal hospital, where we waited in the odd-smelling cattery for the vet to tell us what we already knew - that the possum was doomed and must be put down.

Jacinta was making snarky comments predicting that Aug wouldn't pull his weight in the final clean-up. She kept referring to the possum incident as a bludging exercise for Aug. But d'you know what? He was awesome. On that Sunday afternoon everyone had left except me and Aug. Everyone had cleaned out their rooms, but it fell to us to get rid of all the detritus that my previous housemates had left in the shed and in the upstairs and downstairs cupboards. And we had to clean out the fridge and the kitchen cupboards - nobody seemed to want any of the food.

While we were doing this, I was chatting to Aug, and I realised that he was a really cool, funny guy, and that it was a shame that we had never really talked when he lived in the house. And he had a sense for the house politics - he came into the kitchen saying "Hey, d'you want this?"

It was Jacinta's name badge from the pub where she worked.
I pinned it on and said, "Maybe I should rob a 7-11," and we both laughed.

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