There are many moments I am grateful for the amazing person I live with, pretty much every time I walk in the door. There’s something to be said for being able to walk in and be whoever you are. Even when I’m stressed and tired, it takes a few minutes before that washes off. If you don’t know Ellie and me, we get asked all the time how it worked out so perfectly.
I knew it would be awesome when, in the middle of studies for placement exams, I got home from studying, stressed, and found a note and a nerf gun on the table. “Too much work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” it said. “I’ve got one identical gun and I’m locked and loaded.” Oh, shit. I’ve known this person two days and she is in my apartment waiting to attack me. Game on. By the end of it, stress was a thing of the past and placement exams? Never mattered. Let me tell you, if you think you’re too old to run around your apartment hiding behind things and shooting nerf guns until you’re laughing and someone out-strategizes you, you’re too old period and should retire and move to Florida.
We met each other in August with a hug, after having had one phone conversation and an email thread between the two us. We knew a few things about each other: I knew Ellie liked to bike and had biked from NYC to California with Illini 4000, raising money in part for Camp Kesem, and I had just finished the TD five boro bike tour for Doctors Without Borders. That was the deciding factor — you like to bike? Cool, let’s room. We met on a Friday, and Saturday morning we did the Color Run. Sunday, she brought home nerf guns, and by orientation Monday, we were giving each other pep talks about our “first day” of graduate school as we walked there together.
Thanks to the powers that be. Now, after a crazy first year of poetry slams, music, bike rides, study breaks, heartbreaks, good news, bad news, deaths, hugs, potlucks, play, and encouragement, we’re getting ready to move into our second apartment together. It makes me think, so lucky. So lucky and grateful and blessed to have a safe place to go home to. It’s all I could wish for everyone. When one of my absolute closest St. Louis friends was struggling with her roommate and was kicked her out of the apartment, she moved in with us for a month and finally felt relief. She felt as if she’d been treading on eggshells for months, not feeling safe at home, and then, she had it again. I am blessed to have a ready-made support-filled home of love and goodness, and I hope that if anyone feels unsafe in their home, they might have someone in their life who can help them, take them in, and keep the world away. It’s the best gift, and I am grateful to Ellie every day for our wonderful home.
I was especially reminded of this gratitude the other night when we were sitting around the dining room table with friends, and I got up to go to the kitchen singing the bit of “Cups” that was stuck in my head. One of our friends joked that I was singing it wrong, so Ellie grabs her phone says, “let’s see!” puts the song on, and I grab cups from the cupboard and head back to the table. Immediately, Ellie and I are sitting down and flipping cups in the rhythm we both learned when we were young; someone is singing pieces of it as we flip; and as the song plays and we are clapping and flipping in perfect unison, the only thing I could think was, nope, it doesn’t get better than this.