Since graduating from college in 2005, I have lived in eight different apartments. For a while, each year meant a nicer, fanicer apartment in a better location. We were moving on up.

Literally.

We eventually had to take an elevator to our apartment.

In many of these apartments, a nice person in a black suit accepted packages on our behalf while I was busy getting an MFA in Creative Writing and pretending it was normal for writers to live in buildings where you can send out your dry cleaning. As you can probably imagine, luxury buildings in a major metropolitan city, with their sparkly appliances and hotel amenities like pools and gyms, can be pricey.

Pricey apartments are definitely for people who tend to have lots of dry cleaning. Because I do not have much dry cleaning and because J.D. and I are mildly nuts and planned to be bi-coastal for a while last year, pricey apartments didn’t make the cut. (Plus, there was that whole economy thing putting a damper on things.)

With our plan in mind, we embarked upon our craziest journey yet: living in a two bedroom house with two our of best friends and two dogs. This particular rental — fondly referred to as the Cott (short for cottage) by our friends — did not have an elevator, a doorman, or windows that opened without two-three people pushing them open and one person shoving a brick underneath to keep it open.

But the Cott did have character, from its battered wood floors to its peeling walls to its treasure-filled basement. The Cott had been loved by friends before us and we were just the newest addition to the long four year history our group of friends has had with the house. With four people (one of whom slept on a futon in the dining room) crammed into a small space, we maximized every dusty inch of that crazy house, spending every breakfast out on the buggy front porch, eating elaborate raw, vegan meals in the swampy backyard — 106 million DC degree heat be damned! Drinks were drunk and fights were fought in that house, and we survived four months with one tiny bathroom shared between four people with insanely different schedules.

Some of us woke up at at the crack of dawn to run a million miles (that person was not me), while some of us woke to sweat our asses off at early morning yoga. Some of us worked from home, a crazy office set up with enough computers to power a small start-up. Some of us discovered our obsessive love of chia seed pudding and devoured it together each morning with piles of berries and cups of iced coffee to beat the heat. Some of us (hopefully all of us) knew that, at the age of 27-28, living together in this bizarre, almost commune of best friends was not only completely amazing, but was also rare and might never happen again.

Some of us were grateful.

Putting aside the quirks, the fact that I could see into the basement from the holes in the kitchen floor, and the mice situation that eventually drove us to move out (long after our friends/roomies had gone and it was just us sharing what now seemed like a huge space), the Cott was home. And not just because it had walls and a roof, though we were lucky to have that. The Cott was home because it’s where we were family, and not in a cheesy my-friends-are-my-family-way, but in an honest-to-goodness these people are just as important to me as my family.

The summer we had together in that home was totally insane, and many people thought we were insane for doing it. And I suppose that’s the real reason that today when I had to say goodbye to the Cott because J.D. and I truly are moving on and up to apartment number 8, I felt beyond grateful for my friends. We never think anything is too insane to be worth trying, even if the insane idea means shacking up together in a creaky house for the summer.

And when you never think anything is too insane, you aren’t afraid to try anything. And hopefully that means someday someone will accept your packages and send out your dry cleaning, too. I hate to admit it, but it’s pretty damn great. The shiny appliances and working stove aren’t bad either.

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6 Responses to “These Walls: Moving On and Moving Up”

  1. So many memories from the last (almost) 4 years in the Crit Cott! From the Caputo years to the Phantom 9 months, and the crazy 4-peopleand2dogsina2bedroom1bathroomapartment days… I don’t regret a minute. Heres to you Cott for bringing us (and holding us) all together through the highs, lows, laughs, tears and LOTS of delicious coffee and food! GOD BLESS AND LONG LIVE THE CRITTER COTTAGE!!!

  2. What a lovely tribute to your friends. I sometimes miss those “too many people in a ratty old house” days…I miss the connections and the day-to-day togetherness. But – like you – I also really like having shiny appliances! I just wish that I could have a friend who lived next door to me – best of all worlds.

    • I really dream of having all my friends in one giant compound, just as long as the compound has a fancy kitchen with shiny appliances. Is that asking too much?

  3. The Cott sounds awesome, as do your friends. Yay for moving and new appliances!!

    • It was awesome (minus the mice), but my friends are the best! And yes, the appliances are pretty freaking great. Not gonna even pretend that stuff doesn’t excite me.

  4. moving up is good. we had to move down in some aspects at least because our old house had just been renovated. this one is not. but has a bigger yard for dogs so up in that area at least.

    may I suggest not posting your address online? i have heard of people regreting doing that.

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