For five of our almost ten years of marriage, Daniel and I have had at least one roommate. During our second year of marriage, we invited my youngest sister into our recently purchased campus house for her first year of college. Soon after, we opened our other spare bedroom to a college friend. When both girls moved out a year later, we had a series of short-term roommates, including a foreign exchange student from Spain and a brother of a close college friend.
We lived in our own home throughout our years in Thailand, although it was not uncommon to share a meal or an entire day with our neighbors. Once we returned to the States, Daniel's parents graciously opened their homes for us during our eight months of transitioning back to life in the U.S. and finding a house of our own. Then shortly after moving into that house, my brother moved into our basement bedroom for his freshman year of college, and just a few months later, my youngest sister moved into our last spare bedroom during a six-month gap between jobs. At the time, our son was just a few months old, and soon I would find out I was expecting his baby sister.
When the kids were just 1 and 2, we invited Daniel's youngest sister and her husband to live with us. They were both starting new careers, hoping to save for a house of their own - plus our basement bedroom had been vacant for almost a year. They ended up living with us for almost nine months, moving to their country home shortly after the kids turned 2 and 3. They were our last roommates to-date.
I will be the first to admit that every roommate situation had its plusses and minuses, but by far, the good out-weighed the bad. Even when we were wrestling through our first years of marriage, or figuring out how to care for a newborn and a not-yet one-year-old, or grieving over a tragic loss, having roommates was always a positive, deeply rewarding experience.
Perhaps it is because living life together has always been my heartbeat.
Perhaps it is because our hearts and minds, even our biology, is hard-wired for regular human contact.
Perhaps it is because the moment-to-moment sharing of life helps us savor each second that much more.
Perhaps it is because we are better together, because it takes a village.
Because what would happen if, instead of carrying the burdensome weight of large mortgages and two car payments and tons of cleaning, we divided that weight up a bit? What would happen if, instead of trying to be chef and chauffeur, tutor and therapist, mama and money-maker, we admitted our limitations and leaned on the strengths of others? What would happen if, instead of flicking a tiny gray rectangle giving us quick and private access in and out of our own lives, we - with wisdom and discernment - opened our doors, and our hearts?
Perhaps we would find our village.
We would find each other.
We would find the joy of life, together.
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