I wake up everyday, more or less, with the same routine: I snooze my first two alarms until it becomes apparent that I cannot sleep any longer, then I idly check the notifications on my phone that have accumulated overnight and, finally, I ensure that my cat is on my bed (because if she is not, I know she is in a mood). Once I’ve completed this morning custom, I head across the hall check on my other favorite creature (spoiler: it is not one of the cats), my roommate.

My venture into living with Lucy is relatively new, but it isn’t like we haven’t tried before. In our first semester of college, we painstakingly filled out all of the online forms we would need in order to live together. However, upon arriving to our dorm, we quickly realized that not only was there no air-conditioning, but the building was also set for demolition within the year. Despite setting up the entire room to our liking, we ultimately decided to put in for a transfer. The dorm room was ours for only one night, but like the wuss I am, I stayed in my parents’ air-conditioned hotel room (poor Lucy toughed it out instead).

Our transfer request yielded unsatisfactory news: we would be in the same building, but in separate rooms, on separate floors. She would live with a turquoise-obsessed sorority girl, and I would room with a girl that let her boyfriend spend the night with us (note: our beds were three feet apart). This news seemed devastating at first, but upon reflection, it was for the best. Of course, there was nothing we looked forward to more than living together. However, I don’t think Lucy or I were quite ready for that commitment. You see, we hated the city we were in and we hated the college we attended. We both isolated ourselves that semester, and, if I had to guess, rooming together would’ve made the situation worse.

Fast forward a semester, I transferred back to Memphis, but Lucy toughed out Knoxville, once again (perhaps that first night foreshadowed more than I realized). By the time Lucy transferred, I was locked into a lease of my own; thus, ensuring another year of living apart. Once again, though, I don’t think we were quite ready for what roommating entails. Granted, I did spend the majority of my time haunting her apartment.

In late spring of this year, however, all of the pieces began to fall into place: I need a place to live and her roommate was moving out. Now, I’m not a big believer in fate or destiny, but sometimes life does have a funny way of setting things up for you. My decision to move in was a little hasty, i.e. booking a U-Haul the day of and letting Lucy know with just one text. Somehow, though, I got all of my furniture up to that third floor apartment, and all of the sudden it hit me: we are really living together.

I never anticipated anything bad coming from this decision, but everywhere I turned, someone had a forewarning for me. It seemed most people thought living together was the best way to end a friendship. However, I am now nearly three months in, and I am here to tell you that it is not the case. Perhaps it is because Lucy and I have the sort of relationship that transcends normal friendship, which sounds silly, I know. At this point, we know one another like the back of our hands, and while communication is key, I can usually sense her mood without even talking to her.

When she needs alone time, I get it. When I want to belt out the songs from A Star is Born, she respects it. When we want to binge drink Coke Zero and watch all of the National Treasure movies, we do it. There is a balance to living together that I don’t think we realized as 18-year-olds heading to college. Living together isn’t a never-ending sleepover. Sometimes there are things that frustrate–dishes in the sink, laundry left in the dryer, mysterious tupperware within the fridge. However, if I’ve learned anything, it is that this is our space: it isn’t her mess or my mess, it is our mess. So, instead of letting those little irritants become triggers, I recognize that I, too, let the house slide sometimes.

Perhaps, overdue chores aren’t the relationship-breakers that my forewarners were referring to, but I do think it relates to a bigger theme. Cohabiting provides lessons and insight into adult life. It forces you to communicate, create balance and understand another human in a way you haven’t before. I truly believe, anyone can live with a stranger (hell, I shared a bathroom with a girl that I never actually met), but living with a best friend requires some skill.

Living with Lucy isn’t always a sleepover, but that is definitely what makes it fun. In the last three months, I have learned more about her and her habits than I have in the last five years. As for my morning routine, I’m sure she doesn’t always appreciate me strolling in while she’s sleeping, but, hey, she’s adjusting to my habits, too.