April 9th, 2006

I haven’t had a roommate in awhile; the last one was my relationship with Andrea (whose birthday is Monday!) in the infamous ‘Hotel Latona’ now known as ‘The Yellow House’ for its overly-bright, must-have-been-on-sale paint job. As a poorly cared for rental, it’s uninsulated walls housed a bartender, a neurobiology PhD student, myself, and Andrea who was earning her master’s in Landscape Architecture at the time. Oh, and there were various others whose transient nature earned 4219 Latona its moniker; KT in the basement with the rats, Dan-in-the-van in the driveway.

(Roommates Colin and Jonas) I’ll skip over the rather communal Feathered Friends apartment years, blip by the last year and-a-half of living (blissfully) alone but pause on today and Chamonix and being the guest roommate of a climbing partner 10 years my junior.

Colin is prone to outbursts of the most colorful Norwegian or Swedish; he has an incredible aural memory, enabling him to incessantly recite movie lines and do well with his French…even though I have yet to see him go to class. He also does an amazing rendition of animal screams the likes of which have scared nearby climbers, including the Argentinians following us on Mt. Blanc du Tacul. I think I would have been scared too, envisioning some heinous climbing accident requiring a helicopter short-haul off the route. Yes, the rescue service around here tends to do afternoon fly-by’s of the popular routes, looking for climbers in distress. Literally a five minute flight, it is much different than the Cascades where you should expect to drag yourself out (I’ve got friends who’ve done it).

Colin’s small room is dominated by an open closet from which a large amount of climbing gear spills; three pairs of crampons, three harnesses, four ice tools, three pairs of boots, two pairs of skis (in the hall), and one pair of pants. Those pants are now shorts since he finished off the worn-out knees.

He is also the most disciplined of misers, viewing food largely for its caloric content and alcohol for its ability to “get you ‘perved.'” I have a story of him, out to dinner with a group largely twice his age and all climbers. Colin ordered a plate of steamed rice but came away with a full meal and lunch the next day as person after person donated their extras, including a district attorney who said with a nostalgic chuckle “I remember the college days.” Of dirtbags, Colin is a king, though that is not to say he is lacking in intelligence or insight. His anti-establishment passions run deep and he often has the facts at hand to support his opinions. He’s also got an amazing repertoire on the affects, composition, and histories of various hallucinogens. He’s also a sensitive guy and has managed to date one of his classmates here, Camilla, the Norgwegian ex-model going to law school.

(the peanut butter aisle) Much like the DA reminiscing of his collegiate years, I too am reminded of my earlier roommate years. For these guys, pasta with sauce straight from a jar is their mainstay however I’ve been able to vary the diet a bit; I’m fortunate to have been trained to cook reasonably well. I even earned a compliment from Jonas who, after our third meal together, proclaimed it’s the best he’d eaten in ten weeks here. Same goes for the dishes, I think they’re getting cleaned with more frequency.

(Jonas and Hannah) Today is a weather day; the mountain peaks are in and out of the clouds, and Colin’s Swedish roommate Jonas, who’s taken up residence in the apartment’s living room for a little late-night privacy with his Swedish girlfriend Hannah, is cooking us pancakes. Colin is still at Camilla’s. Jonas drove us the other day to a nearby city where there is a larger “Super U” grocery store. The selection was great, the labels largely unreadable, and they even had some brand-name Tex-Mex food product. But no refried beans. However there was peanut butter, that life-sustaining food I can consume by the pound, though the Nutella was giving it some stiff competition.

(groceries) Roommates. It’s been awhile, but it’s nice to have someone to eat with and with whom to do the mundane, like grocery shopping. Now all I need is for Colin to pry himself from Camilla and show me where the laundromat is–both of us have perma-stench long underwear desperately in need of a wash.

Ah, domesticity.

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