It was a few weeks after my friends bought a house and invited me and my roommate to live with them. We were all getting ready to move in - packing and gradually moving into the house that was only a few blocks from our respective apartments. I drove home early on a Saturday morning from the Rose Bowl after my running plans were thwarted by UCLA football and discovered that new plans had been made for me: we were going to paint.
That was more than four years ago, and now I realize that day was symbolic, and also indicative. We piled in the car for Home Depot, made our paint choices on the fly, bought our supplies, and were taping up the rooms before lunch. None of us had ever really painted before. Our choice of white to freshen up the trimming clashed with the white of the plantation shutters. I don't remember eating lunch, and at around 7 that evening we piled back into the car for our favorite Vietnamese restaurant (cheap, quick and filling).
The next day, we came home from church and worked on the trim. We finished later that evening and celebrated with bottles of Coronas - clearing the cluttered dining room table and surrounded by brown boxes filled with our belongings. The paint fumes, the delirium from spending all weekend inside together, the alcohol - whatever it was, we laughed hard that night. And I envisioned something good for us together.
The next four years was filled with much of the same. For me, it was often about giving up my hard-fought independence, learning to be flexible and enjoying the spontaneity of going with someone else's flow. Of course, there were times I held my ground and pursued what I wanted instead of going with the whole household, and sometimes this worked and sometimes it didn't. More recently there was some conflict about my not contributing to prep for a dumpling party. Where had I been while everyone else was chopping? I'd been at Barnes & Noble, oblivious to fact that the chopping was happening simultaneously because nobody told me. So we learned how to communicate, and how to be beholden to each other and where we wanted the boundaries of our relationships to lie. I've been let down many times, but I've also been happily surprised even more.
In a few short weeks I'll be moving out of this house. My housemate said it's like sending me off to college, and in some ways that feels true. I'll be just around the corner, but I have a feeling it will feel miles away from the family I've become a part of. Hopefully more reflection and photos to come...
P.S. Hence the new ricecooker.