I have learned the most about the kind of person I should be with and how that enigmatic relationship might function, not from any romantic dalliance but from the rock of a roommate I call my best friend. This isn’t only because we once whiled away an entire afternoon lying in Central Park’s May sunshine collaborating on lists detailing our exact perfect matches and then “letting this list go” because we’d read a book in which a girl said that Oprah recommended doing this. Secondhand Oprah is still gospel, we reasoned.
I’ve always had a best friend, just as some girls always seem to have a boyfriend. But this one feels different; we’re out on our own. Our relationship is deeper than the one we had in college, no longer sustained by shots nor staged on a campus. We share a lease, a couch and a partnership in the eyes of the Costco Membership Office and beyond.
Intimacy is hard. With her, I have learned how to be my fullest self, and what it means to know someone else at this level. I’ve learned when to close the door (hardly ever), how to open up and how (and when) to be entirely honest. I’m working on the art of unconditional support. I’m honing the instinct to know when adding the third bagel to split is necessary.
We tackle the big things together. A thirty-day notice of our building’s demolition was solved with some giant margaritas and perspective: our relationship was stronger than four walls. We celebrate the little things, thriving on absurd traditions, small rituals and constant communication in a language almost entirely our own. We spend plenty of time apart, so much that we schedule our time together, declining invitations with “I’m having dinner with my roommate.”
From this friendship, I’ve learned companionship, compromise, compatibility and—to be honest—complacency, too. A wise J.Crew bridal catalog from seasons past taught me that New York has the highest median marriage age of all states. Google tells me this number continues to rise. Meanwhile, I’m doing zero things to combat the statistic. Dating apps are the first to go when the “Storage Almost Full” notification pops up. I cherish my complacency with singledom as an asset, approaching on virtue. I pride myself on my complete comfort with being “by myself”—but I have a person.
I splurged on a gorgeous rug the other day without Venmo-ing her for half. Braided jute would fray terribly if cut in two, and the splitting of this happy household is inevitable. But I also wouldn’t give up what we have until I know I’ve found something good. Because of her, I know how good feels.
The other day she turned to me and asked, “You know that night when our cab took an hour to get to Brooklyn because all those bricks were falling and closing all the roads, and then we got the name of the bar wrong, and had to take another thirty-minute cab into deep-ass Brooklyn but we didn’t even care because we’ll never run out of things to talk about?”
“Yeah, best night ever,” I said.
“I want to feel like that with someone. I’m going to add that to my list.”
Me too, girl, me too.
Elizabeth is wearing a vintage sweater and skirt, Repetto shoes, Shebee cuff and ring, Venessa Arizaga friendship bracelets, and Annie Costello Brown earrings; Haley is wearing a Zara tank — another crochet tank here, Fleamadonna skirt — another black and white mini skirt here, Trademark shoes, Venessa Arizaga friendship bracelet, Shebee ring, Dannijo earrings. Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.