Monday, October 19, 2009

That's what friends are for

I live in a large apartment building in NW Washington, DC. I am near the Metro and there are shops and restaurants nearby, I have always felt like everything I need is within walking distance. (Everything I want, on the other hand - that may require public transportation or a Zipcar. Depending on how badly I want it.) I have lived there for about a year and a half, but it's just lately that I've gotten to know my neighbors and grown to appreciate and love where I live.

I don't know the exact specifications, but the building is very large and it is mostly one-room studio apartments. There are some other floorplans, but the majority seem to be studio. The rent is expensive for folks like me at an entry-level job, but it's truly the best value for a studio in DC. There is an exercise room downstairs with a sauna and a hot tub. There is a sun deck on the roof, and a party room on the second floor for residents to get together. The party room has a flat screen TV, a comfy couch and chairs, a coffee maker, a lending library, and if tenants leave their drivers license at the front desk, we can have access to the Nintendo Wii. In addition to all of these amenities, the building hosts free coffee and bagels before work once or twice a month, and a couple of times a year they host a wine and cheese party for us in the party room. The building is rather old, and the hallways feel like a hotel or a dormitory, but it is worth every penny I can barely afford to pay to live there.

Even though I'd lived there over a year, it has not been until this summer that I have started to meet other tenants. The building management hosted a party in June, and one of the tenants tried to draw up interest in getting a team together for pub trivia. The pub trivia didn't exactly pan out, but once everyone had exchanged contact information, emails started to abound. There was always an invitation to a happy hour, a kickball league, dinner, game night, going away parties... there was always something going on. It has taken me a while to catch on, but this atmosphere of expensive one-room apartments seems to draw a similar demographic of people. We are all out of school and carving our career path and we're old enough to appreciate living by ourselves. At the same time, we are young enough that we're not at the point where we're ready to buy a house or get married or start a family. It makes sense that we should all come together in this little community of expensive studio apartments.

Yesterday was the birthday of one of the girls in the building. One of the guys in the building had bought her a birthday card and somehow that had a snowball effect and by the evening, we had a card, candy, balloons, cupcakes from Red Velvet, and we invited her and everyone else to get together in the party room to watch The Simpsons Halloween special. This led to the realization that we did not have enough cupcakes.

Brian, Beau and I ended up in Brian's apartment waiting for a call back from the birthday girl. We decided that a box of Ghiradelli brownie mix would save us from running out of birthday cupcakes. After much running around and gathering ingredients, we had mixed up the batter and started to pour it into the 13 x 8 inch pan. The batter barely covered the bottom of the pan. It was apparent that we had a problem and that problem was about 5 inches worth of cake pan.

We laughed at ourselves, then someone else had a box of brownie mix and we mixed that up (to a very different consistency) and poured it into the pan on top of the rest. The absurdity of the different brownie mixes, and people running out to different apartments to grab supplies and back to the brownie batter was absurd. I had a genuine moment of affection and said, "My life has improved so much since I met you guys." Beau looked at me in disbelief, spatula in hand, and said, "Really? This is your moment? You're having that much fun right now?" I reconsidered. Of all the incredibly fun things we've done together, why did I take that opportunity to tell them how much I appreciate them? I tried to explain,

"Yes. Because this moment is identical to what I would be doing had I never met you guys. Except I'd be in my kitchen by myself, feeling like a dumbass for picking the wrong pan and wondering how I was going to eat two dozen brownies all by myself."