I’m living with my soulmate. But we’re not in a romantic relationship. She’s just my absolute best friend.
Building a home takes a lot of love, a lot of patience and a lot of care. For a lot of folks the perfect living situation is at home with their lover. There are endless memes about skipping the hard parts of life and just going straight to being happy with your spouse. There is such a love for the so-called permanence of domesticity. However, anyone can tell you that romantic relationships tend to feel far more fragile. That’s why I’m living with my best friend, and I’ve never been happier.
We’ll tell it like a love story. I met my roommate through a mutual friend when we were fifteen. With nothing better to do, my friends and I assembled at the now-defunct local Borders every weekend. We brought our laptops, posted up at the coffee shop, and ran around the store looking at manga, comics and novels. There was a magic in this exploration, at a time where the internet was almost at our endless disposal—but not so conveniently. We found ourselves in the psychology section. I was interested in different personality traits so I could flesh out my characters, while she was looking at books on mental illness. We spoke for an hour, cultivating a sense of kinship between two teenagers who didn’t quite understand the realities of their lives just yet. There was a sense of closeness, and then we went home.
I saw her a few times after that: at junior prom, at my friend’s house. We went to different schools and lived forty minutes apart, but social media makes you feel a part of someone’s life. A few years passed with a lot of “we should hang out soon!” Facebook messages. She moved to upstate New York. Then she came back to New Jersey, and this time she was working fifteen minutes from my house.
When we hung out again, it was like we had spoken every day for the five years we’d known each other. Everything just clicked. We were both looking to move away from home, and knew we could live together. So we made it happen.
At first, we lived in a four-bedroom house with five people. It was chaotic, loud, and always on. But it was freedom. She and I shared the top floor with someone who was never home, and we’d linger in each other’s bedrooms late into the night. I’d wait for her to come home so we could share the events of our days: the strange things her cats had done that day, daily work complaints, the dread of an upcoming assignment. After two years, we started to outgrow our living situation. Our house was falling apart due to a neglectful landlord, personalities were clashing, and things were beginning to feel stagnant. We were approaching an important transition in our lives, and it was time for us to get our own place.
We found a two bedroom apartment, signed the lease, and it has been the release of a long-held breath. Coming from homes with loud younger siblings and volatile parents, then transitioning to being on our own, but with five other people… this was an amazing change.
When you live with someone you love, the little things don’t matter as much. It’s not always 50/50. I’m not mad about her leaving dirty dishes in the sink, or not putting her shoes away when she gets home. She doesn’t yell at me when my cat pees on clothes left on the floor. Usually, a normal roommate situation boils down to tit for tat. It becomes a battle of who takes out the trash or who cleans the toilet. Now? I don’t care if she drinks my juice, so long as she doesn’t finish it. That’s all.
There is permanence in this relationship, and in the peace we have within it. Both of us work so hard. She pulls 70 hour work weeks in an effort to finish her tattoo apprenticeship. I’m beginning my freelance career while working an understaffed serving job. We both struggle with mental illness. Some days, she has to make sure I get out of the house. Some days, I have to make sure she eats. We need all the quiet and solidarity we can get.
I love her with the same intimacy you’d find between sisters. I love my living situation because it feels like stability with another person, which isn’t something I’ve ever had before. No matter what happens, I know the two of us can get through anything. In such an unstable world, that fact is what gets me through the day.