Young couple unaccustomed to sharing a bathroom turn empty apartment down the hall into spare restroom

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

My husband and I married young. I was nineteen years old, and he was just eighteen. We didn't live together until after the honeymoon.

Prior to living with my husband, I lived in a three-family house with my parents and my older brother. Our family of four shared a single bathroom on the first floor where we lived, but we had a secret weapon. There was a bathroom in the basement that could be used when the main bathroom was in use and one of the family members needed to go ASAP.

In addition, the two apartments my parents rented out were rarely filled at the same time. So we often had the option of using the second or third-floor bathroom as well.

My husband grew up dividing his time between his father's house with his father, his stepmother, and his stepbrother; and his mother's house with his mother, his stepfather, and his sister. Either way, it was four people to a single bathroom.

We rented our apartment several months before the wedding. My husband-to-be moved in alone, and I stayed with my parents in their house until after the wedding. That meant he had the luxury of having a bathroom entirely to himself until I moved in.

Once I moved in with him, it was chaos. Neither of us was comfortable sharing the bathroom at the same time. If one person needed to use the sink or other plumbing fixture while the other was taking a shower, it was a no-go.

Our bathroom was strictly one person at a time. So one night, when I was urgently in need of a toilet, and the bathroom in our apartment was off-limits, I opened the door to our apartment, crept into the hallway, and started gently turning doorknobs in the hope I might hit a vacant apartment with an unlocked door.

To my surprise and delight, an empty apartment halfway down the hall was unlocked. I let myself in and found the bathroom by the moonlight filtering in through the single window.

It was my lucky day. The previous occupants of the apartment had even left behind a roll of toilet paper.

From then on, we used that empty apartment for its available bathroom, for emergencies only, of course. I was always careful to keep a low profile; I have no idea what my husband did.

When we had guests, we let them into our secret bathroom, too. We never got caught, and they never rented out the apartment in the nine months we lived in the building.

Maybe it wasn't the best way to handle the situation. Or was it? As they say, no harm, no foul.

What would you have done? Comments are welcome.

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Ordained Minister, Universal Life Church

Massachusetts State

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