I’m joining up with my friend Cara’s synchro-blog about friendship today. Be sure to check out her fabulous blog and see the other great posts.
I wouldn’t call myself risk-averse but I’m not living life on a high wire. People would describe me as stable and dependable – you know the type. One of my life mottos (it’s really more of a theme than a slogan) is about doing less things for longer instead of trying something new every year. I’ve been in the same city for 13 years, the same swim team for 10 etc. I don’t completely avoid risky endeavours but I’m not seeking them out either. Hence, the friendship I’ve chose to write about is rather ironic – it was risky!
Dane and I had been happily married for about a year and half. He was in seminary and I was working at a small faith-based non-profit. At my work we talked about community non-stop. There were community houses within our community (did you see that, I just used the word twice in one sentence). Homes filled with mainly single people set on sharing common meals, a chore wheel and their lives. One house came together, rotated roommates and then fell apart. One such break-up resulted in Rachel, a volunteer at my work, suddenly needing a place to live. I had interviewed, hired and trained Rachel to be a volunteer but I wouldn’t say we were friends.
I enjoyed her spunk, her southern charm (Georgia!) and the fact that her personality was not typical of our volunteers. Our little grassroots non-profit attracted a lot of bleeding heart artists that lovingly just wanted to “be with the people.” This was a wonderful group to be around but there was actual stuff to get done as well. Rachel was efficient and loved to purge and organize. She would come in and just have at it – filing, labelling, sweeping, whatever she could find. Some might describe her as a friendly, well dressed, administrative force to be reckoned with.
I was telling my husband Dane about the community houses and that Rachel was looking for a new place. He just blurted out, as he often does, an idea that completely surprised me. “What if Rachel lived with us?” We weren’t exactly living in a big community house with lots of people. We were practically newlyweds in a 2 bedroom apartment. Talk…about….risky. “Hey, woman from your work, that we barely know, want to come live in our apartment with us?”
Like I said, I wasn’t running from risks but I also wasn’t looking for them. I took a deep breath and realized that I loved the idea.
Dane tried the idea on with a co-worker he respected. He quickly shot the idea to pieces. He told Dane he was crazy and said, “You and Jane have something so great – why the hell would you want to ruin it with this crazy idea?” He went on, albeit with good intentions, to stridently persuade us to keep things simple – just the two of us. Our families were slightly more polite but equally surprised.
Despite everyone’s uncertainty we offered our second bedroom to Rachel. She seemed thankful and quickly continued to look at her options. Rachel could have afforded to rent her own apartment. She could have guaranteed herself personal space and her own bathroom (something I now know she really likes). But fairly quickly, she too decided to take this risk and move in with us.
Rachel thrived on order and aesthetic. Once the boxes were in her room it was only a matter of hours before it looked like an antique museum. It was complete with scarves the hung on a vintage seamstress mannequin, a little glass vase collection on her shabby chic dresser and a handmade quilt.
It didn’t take much time to realize that our mutual risk provided us with nothing short of fabulous. Rachel, Jane and Dane were a hit! Rachel and I made ‘clean out the fridge’ quesadillas and drank white wine. Rachel and Dane would watch the movies I didn’t want to watch. Did I mention she cleaned the kitchen beyond my wildest dreams?
Of course we had typical roommate struggles. One day she asked us if we could ‘maybe, perhaps, tidy up the shoes at the front door’ because the pile was getting unruly. The next time she came home she couldn’t get the door open because we dumped every pair of shoes we had at the front door. Oops.
This risky move brought someone intimately into our lives. We now know Rachel better than any other friend and she was the first friend we made together. She helped us live through the hardest time of our life (as explained in this fake Ted talk: I Almost Died, So Why Am I Laughing?) and was at the birth of our first son.
Eventually Rachel wanted more space to herself as diapers, strollers and baby stuff took over our little apartment. We understood and she promised to come over often.
There is still no one that Dane and I consider a friend like we do Rachel. Good news/bad news she eventually got married TO A GUY FROM NEW ZEALAND (Hi Andrew, I don’t think you read my blog but we love you and try not to hold this against you!) It gives us something to save for (we are coming for you Rach!) and a trip to take when we are feeling even braver than we did when we invited her in (i.e 14+ hours with 2 kids).
I’m sure the trek half way around the world will result in nothing short of fabulous as well.
(cover photo credit: Beth Malena)