Emulating family homes. Since moving back to the US, I’ve been living with roommates. I lived in a house in the Sunset with five roommates in the summer. Now, I live in our beautiful apartment in NOPA with two roommates – Palak and.
I’ve been thinking about my relationships with them. I’ve had a full range. From the sibling-adjacent, to the formal, even to the romantic. In those relationships I’ve had the privilege of feeling like a brother, a friend, a partner, a surrogate parent, and a caretaker. I assumed it would be hard – if not impossible – to experience this range of roles, emotions, and connections outside of your family circle.
But I feel these emotions now. Every day. Sometimes through the banality of buying food together or cleaning the bathroom. Or through the kvetches about daily life. The debriefs after a bad date. And the drive-by TikToks1/tweets we share in the hall. Every little one of those interactions bring us closer together in a way that is completely inaccessible to those outside our house. We are a cabal. And it shows. Their presence has become more and more natural to me. No one really gets us like we get each other. Being around one another is not socially taxing. We don’t even need words. Our silence is forgiving. And interacting is a daily joy2.
Is this a family home? Are we emulating one? And what makes it one? Is what makes a family a family, after all, having access to these interactions that are completely inaccessible to outsiders? Perhaps banality is the ultimate gatekeeper – more than blood. More than time spent together. A shared roof is the ultimate access. A backstage pass to the mundane excitement and ennui that reveals who you are outside the imposing settings you usually see people in – work, restaurants, parties.
It is strange to catch myself advising my roommates as I would advise my brother Arthur. And teasing them as I would tease my brother Arthur. I don’t know that we are like family, but we also are not unlike family. And it’s been a joy to get to experience this. Maybe getting to do this with a family of maladjusted (maladjustants?) of your choosing is a privilege that beats the cheap rent.
I’ll be with Lucas’s real family in LA this thanksgiving. Baruch HaShem.
Or TikkiTaks as PJ calls them
When talking about nuclear fusion, my friend Amelia once said “you know, after all, if you confine particles long enough anything will fuse”.