It’s been a while. Life has this strange habit of going fast and slow all at once, a sort of wormhole effect that you don’t realize you’re in the middle of until you’re halfway through your third ill-advised Wednesday cider and find yourself wondering how the hell it’s nearly December. The last few months in the Bond House haven’t been uneventful, but between travel, events, and the sweet beginnings of seasonal depression, I’ve been apathetic towards writing. In fact, it took me over a week to write this. But that’s my problem, not yours. Just like my daily decision of whether or not to wear my heavy winter coat or to punish my body for a few more weeks so the cold doesn’t destroy my soul–my problem, not yours.
If you’ve learned anything from the past 11 months in the Bond House, it’s that we like to host parties. If we had unlimited funds, we’d probably host a big party every month. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to be cut that check; so, we host parties for things that matter, like Michael’s 31st birthday (though, being co-owner and Claudia’s beloved husband certainly improves your chances). With him working in London these days, we had ample time to plan the sort of fiesta that would make him happy: low-key vibe (but actually a little high-key), tacos, and margaritas. Though he planned the guest list, we went rogue and ordered a dozen matching blue shirts that our in-house crafter then glitter-glued “Team Michael 2018” onto the front (one of our extras went to a friend and admitted fan of the House–I hope he wears it once a week). We were stunning and laughed all night, drunk on margaritas (Corona is the secret to a rock solid big batch–message me if you want the recipe). Michael told us the next morning that the evening had been everything he had wanted.
But parties for a person like Michael are easy. He likes to eat and be surrounded by interesting people, preferably at the same time. But someone like Brennan (or “Google” as Josefina has taken to calling him)? Nearly impossible.
For the record, Brennan and I have a funny little relationship. To me, everyone else in the House makes some kind of sense. People have things they like to do, passions, aspirations, dislikes, etc. Brennan? Chaos. I can’t get a read on him. He is a good person–in fact, he’s one of the best people I’ve ever known–but he’s difficult to puzzle out. He refuses to tell us when his birthday is, which I find frustrating because birthdays are my favorite. The only person who knows the real day is Lark, a longtime friend of Brennan’s and rare witness to the few years in which he actually shared the blessed date. She won’t tell us either–I respect that. Now, Josefina thinks Brennan is a water sign (likely a Pisces, she says–there’s great debate over this), but we didn’t want to wait until March to throw a party. So, what are we to do? Pick a day and go over the top.
While Brennan slaved over a pot of rich pork broth for some excellent ramen (a 2-day process), the rest of us hid in the shadows to put together one of the strangest birthday cakes in Massachusetts history. I won’t bore you with the details, but the chef du jour pulled out this combination:
Cake: Lemon, poppy seed, black pepper
Filling: Raspberry, bergamot oil
Icing: Lavender oil, vanilla
The resulting pink mammoth of a dessert was decorated with pomegranate seeds, crystallized ginger, slices of dragon fruit, and a marzipan dragon. At half past seven, a few of us ambushed Brennan with his first surprise party as he put out the broth and all of its fixin’s. The look on his face was priceless: a blend of delight and absolute horror. We sang that god-awful version of the birthday song as Lark draped a boa around Brennan’s neck and gives him a plastic party hat. It was the first time I’ve seen him blush.
When the song was over, he said, “Aw, man, you guys overshadowed my ramen.” You know what happens when you don’t tell people your birthday? They go as far over the line as they can without upsetting you.
Showing people you care about them is important, especially in a co-living situation. Michael and I briefly discussed this a few days ago. He’s been wondering how he could replicate the “magic” of the Bond House in other places, which is something I’ve also been thinking a lot about lately. Why is it that we get along so well? Why is that our house full of strangers is a home when other people barely know their roommates? Sure, a lot of it has to do with intent. Everyone living here ultimately chose this space because the idea of living in a collaborative environment was appealing; but I think the actual foundation of why everything works so well is that I am a part of a community that takes care of me, and that simple fact compels me to take care of it.
While one of my roommates had to do a night shift rotation (a real shout out to the millions of Americans who keep this country running), I made sure she had coffee when she woke up for work. On the days she was running late, I put together a lunch box for her. These small acts took moments out of my day, but they eased her burden. And when I was sick with the stomach flu last week, I was cared for. My dog was walked, my cat was fed, someone brought me toast and tea (though I can’t say for certain who—-I was out of it).
When I was again myself, I made sure that a lot of us got together to fulfill Theresa’s birthday wish: see Fantastic Beasts 2 in theaters. Let me tell you, getting 9 grown people together in one place is a miracle. To then leave that place and decide to go to another place is something else entirely. But allow me a moment to linger in the theater. I’m not sure you’ve had a time in your life when you felt this sense of wholesome pride before (if you haven’t, I recommend)—for me it was this moment during the previews where I looked at these people I’ve grown to care for and felt so happy that I was with them.
We have inside jokes now (seriously, the word “canoe” couldn’t possibly bear any humor for anyone else but a few of us #teamcanoo). We are in each other’s business. We tease each other. We are no longer polite. Last night, after the movie and over dumplings, I put my arm around Michael’s shoulders and called him a spoiled brat because of something silly he’d done (though who can say what it was, really). Everyone laughed and then he showed me how to eat soup dumplings.
I believe a big part of the House’s success is rooted in the original eight Bondies: Michael, Claudia, Bailey, Brennan, Bill, Gizem, Elzerie, and Theresa. Claudia and Michael had this crazy dream, but it was the tone the we set as a group that has ensured we live our lives with kindness. It was because we established a community of care that we now warmly welcome new people into the fold. With each subsequent roommate, our lives are enriched.
Having lived here for nearly a year, I can tell you that I am a kinder, gentler, more affectionate person. Being around people who are better than me at so many things, I am encouraged to better myself. Being around people who rarely allow themselves to be overtaken by negativity makes me thankful for things I have in my life. It is because of these people and this space that I am learning how to be a human being in more ways than I thought possible. I am home.