Friends with Benefits; Or, Great Arguments for Commune Living

Since returning to Seattle and before heading to Chicago next week, I’ve been crashing with various friends around the city, and the conclusion is this: living with your friends is the best thing ever. In fact, I don’t know how people manage without some extra support in the casa.

I’ve loved hugging a “good morning” to my friend Skadi in Capitol Hill; I’ve relished the luxury of a full kitchen to cook in, laundry going in the background, at the newly purchased home of my pals—and super adult power couple—Kayla and Ryli; and I loved (yes, seriously) doing dishes (even though he told me not to) at the home of my friend Jim, pal since kindergarten, the very first night I rolled back into town.

Kayla and Ryli joked last night that I was their adult nanny: when they arrived home from their long work day, their laundry was folded on their bed, dishes were done, and dinner was nearly ready so they could eat a little before their exercise class that night. I served up steaming heaps of lentil curry, bowls of shredded coconut, cashews, raisins, and chutney on the table ready to top it off. We chatted about our days, puzzled at some noise the new fridge was making, and then I started packing up leftovers for their lunches as they scooted out to class. I had had a day of errands and studying, writing and email catch-up, then podcasts as I prepped dinner. Adult nanny? Sign me up.

All of that is to say: I honestly don’t know how people do it without some help, be it friends, family, or hired. Wake up, feed yourself (and dependents), dress and primp, commute, work a long day, commute, feed yourself (and dependents), shuttle to and from evening obligations, maybe squeeze in a hobby, and oh, maintain rich, loving relationships with partners and/or kids.

On top of this, it’s been a real gift, a sort of deepening of how I know my friends at this stage of life, to see the small details of their everyday routines in ways that don’t come up over happy hour or at parties. The fancy bath products Skadi uses, the hilarity and sweetness of Adrian and Caglayan’s cat, Jim’s Midwestern hospitality that dictated I sleep in his bed and he on the couch, and so on. It makes me want loads more of it.

Anyway, I think we’d all be better off if our living arrangements better provided for some assistance. Multi-generational housing, co-housing, smaller homes close together so that folks can get to know one another, lend a hand more frequently and spontaneously—you know, without having to climb in a car and haul across town. In the immortal words of the late great Mister Rogers, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

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