My roommates are some of my best friends and in our cozy little apartment, I am at home. A year and four months ago, I found them on Craigslist. I know what you’re thinking – this sounds like a horrible idea to most rational, realistic adults with any modicum of awareness; I know this because it did to me as well. We emailed back and forth for a week before we decided to meet, cautiously. I had every sketchball awareness detector activated and walked into their homey apartment on high alert, fully prepared to blow the emergency whistle I had packed in my purse. But then, before I even had a chance to make it across the threshold, one of them met me at the complex gate in her car to direct me to the apartment…and she used her blinker in the parking lot. I put it on my mental list of “Non-Psychopathic Tendencies” and exhaled a tiny sigh of relief.
Disclaimer: Meeting roommates on the internet can be incredibly risky, please do so at your own risk and do not view this piece of writing as advice as to how your life choices should be made. I personally believe that it’s entirely possible that I found the two greatest humans to have ever entered the world of Craigslist and you should dabble in internet affairs WITH EXTREME CAUTION. Hopefully you knew this already.
Anyway, I loved them, moved in, and we became the quirkiest little family you’ve ever seen (okay, maybe second only to my immediate biological family).
Macie is bold and fierce, fearless in her endeavors and strong in her convictions. She’s aggressively bright and she knows it. She’s unique and spirited. She is our wine loving unicorn. She adores her niece and nephews and wouldn’t miss their birthday parties, soccer games, piano recitals, karate events (or weekly dinners at their house) for the world, but she wouldn’t be caught dead working with children. You know, like most educated adults.
Meg is much more like myself and as such, was more challenging to read and get to know. It took us probably nine months to get into a groove, at which point she told me I “was a tough nut to crack.” Touché, girlfriend. Meg is one of the most intelligent people I have ever known (and I’ve known some smarties). She lives and loves with grace and gentleness, difficult to define but undeniable for those who know what to look for. Meg, like myself, has a decorated degree from a prestigious private university and chooses to work with small children. We come home and swap war stories of our days in the trenches with our “tiny terrors” on the regular, as we empty our pockets of glitter. We each require a shower after a day’s work because we’re covered in sweat and sunscreen, applesauce and probably a lot of other bodily fluids you don’t want to know about. We ask aloud “Why in god’s name do we choose to do this for other peoples’ children?” on a weekly basis.
That question is our lighthouse: when the seas are rocky, the wind is strong and we’ve lost our way through the fog (and we’re vomiting over the side of the boat because we are both highly sensitive to motion sickness), this question guides us. It’s always rhetorical. We’ve both been in jobs that were much more professionally respected, jobs that did more for our pride and sense of social acceptability, jobs that paid us enough to buy oatmeal and peanut butter in the same week and yet, we both choose this. We both have other options that seem extraordinarily appealing on days when every toddler in the world has conspired against us to have simultaneous meltdowns, we’re tired and just want to coast, days when it would be really nice to have sick pay, vacation time, or you know, health insurance. And yet, everyday we embrace this role that breaks us down and lights us up, that leaves us so exhausted that we both close our doors for the night around 8:30pm.
When Meg and I ask this question, we both smirk silently – to ourselves and to one another – because we already know the answer – we can’t do anything else, not anymore. The tricky part is, it’s not tangible. It’s really difficult to explain to someone why I choose the glitter covered, applesauce stained, snot-wiping, sunscreen wearing life. As tough as it is, at the end of the day I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I have a job that doesn’t demand that I sell something I don’t believe in; I do not have to wear nice clothes, sit behind a desk staring at a screen, or hell, even brush my hair. My youngest Little doesn’t care whether I have green eyes or brown, whether I have acne or whether I’m roughly 12 pounds under or overweight. She cares that I am present with her, that I learn and grow with her, that I am comfortable enough in my own skin to act like an absolute moron in order to make her laugh. She doesn’t dig me because I drive a nice car or because my mascara is perfect (Let’s be honest…if these were the stipulations, I’d never have the job in the first place). She digs me because of my light. She doesn’t ask me to meet sales quotas, she asks me to show up and be the best person I know how to be. It may not always be true, but for this moment, this is the work I am meant to be doing.
I think we could all take a little more time to appreciate these things in one another and probably in ourselves, but for today, I am so thankful to have my comrade just down the hall. Finding a member of your team is such a rare and significant thing and I feel like one of the luckiest people on the planet to get to share a home with my people.