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Two Roommates, Two Very Different Mindsets

By Taylor Cavaliere and Jamie Shapiro

Taylor: A Psychotic Clean Freak

I make my bed every single day. If I forget (which is rare), I make it before I get in it at night. That tells you just about everything you need to know about me.

I don’t recall my parents ever telling me to clean my room when I was growing up. My desk in elementary school and lockers in middle and high school were always organized. There was a place for everything, and everything was in its place. I loved having my own space, and I loved having control over said space. I never shared a room growing up, so my space was as clean and spotless as I cared to make it.

Freshman year, I made the decision to live with my high school best friend, Jamie, and self-described keeper of chaos.

For a long time, our room looked as though the mother and daughter from Freaky Friday both lived there. There was an invisible line right down the center. On the left, Jamie. She swears she knows where everything is, but I can’t even see the desk. On the right, me. It looks like a model unit for leasing agents to give tours in. You’d think we spent the entire year fighting. I don’t recall ever fighting about the state of the room once. Truth be told, her alternate lifestyle didn’t bother me at all. Maybe it was because I loved her so much, but I think it was also because I realized it was OK to have a little mess.

I learned so much that year, but I think I learned the most important lesson from living five feet away from Jamie. learned that I cannot control everything in my life. Sure, I can clean my room. But I can’t rub a Clorox wipe across all my problems and make them shiny and pretty. I am a perfectionist to a fault. I let things get to me, and my coping mechanism is to try to make everything pretty and perfect. Make everything organized, neat and clean.

You can’t do that. You can control yourself and your space, and sometimes, you can’t even control your space. You can’t make your life perfect, and while fully understanding this is an ongoing journey, I began this journey because I lived with Jamie for three years.

I like to think that Jamie learned something by living with someone as obsessively clean as I am, too, though I can’t really imagine what that lesson would be. Maybe something about coming home to a spotless living space or climbing into a made bed at the end of a long day, though I can never be certain.

Jamie is my best friend in the world, and while we were close before living together, our experience as roommates only made us closer. We are polar opposites in living styles, but our cohabitation helped both of us find a comfortable spot closer to the middle of the spectrum. I don’t mind a little chaos in my life, and I owe that entirely to her.

Left to Right: Jamie Shapiro and Taylor Cavaliere, UF Preview, June 19, 2015

Jamie: A Human Disaster

I’m not a slob. At least, I’m not anymore.

I may have been one of the messiest kids to ever grace the earth’s surface (think: my room was considered “clean” if there was a path from my door to my bed so I could escape in case of flood, fire, or the descent of the plagues) but those days have been behind me since I turned twelve.

If you walk into my room today there’s almost nothing on my floor, save a few loose shoes, maybe a sock or two, and occasionally my flat iron. I’m a reformed woman and I like to think of my aesthetic as “organized chaos.”

Sure it may seem haphazard to have my makeup sprawled across my entire bathroom counter, with several bandaids, a roll of floss, and every face wash, toner and acne treatment I’ve ever bought mixed in. But what some call chaos I call functional.

Freshman year I made the decision to live with my high school best friend and a certified neat freak.

It was an interesting plot twist sure, the girl who hadn’t made her bed since 2005 and the girl whose mentality was “clean first, ask questions later,” there were TV shows based off this kind of thing and I’m almost certain I was played by Matthew Perry in at least one of them.

We weren’t compatible roommates in the sense that we agreed on what state our room should be in at any given time. On the outside it might have looked like the mess of makeup and loose pencils on my desk would have driven her nuts or she’d have driven me out with a well-intentioned Clorox wipe to the face. But inside that cruelly microscopic room that we shared for roughly 113 days, we both learned a little bit about adapting our mindset.

I learned that sometimes, the mentality of just tossing your belongings and dealing with the mess later can be harmful. I found that leaving my workspace cluttered, especially with non-school related items (approximately 20 sample sized mascaras and Bath and Body Works lotions) caused me to be less productive. When living in that dorm I learned how to not just clean up after myself, but to organize and keep a functional workspace, if only to keep Taylor from having heart palpitations more than twice a week.

Left to right: Taylor Cavaliere and Jamie Shapiro, November 17, 2018

I like to think that Taylor learned something by living with someone as cluttered as I am too, though I can’t really imagine what that lesson would be. Something about cutting loose and smelling the fresh laundry as you put off folding it for an entire weekend, though I can never be certain.

While our compatibility in terms of cleanliness certainly wasn’t great, our overall compatibility as roommates was astronomical. Which is why continued to live in our vortex of “mostly clean with a little of Jamie’s stuff lying on the table” for another two years after we moved out of that hallowed cinder block room in Broward Hall. While we had gone into that cinderblock prison cell as good friends, we emerged two semesters later as something close to inseparable, in spite of our vastly different mentalities on cleanliness and our living spaces.