Sometimes when I think back to the improbability of meeting my community, I am stunned beyond belief. Alternative universes unfold - realities where applications were not submitted, preference buttons were not clicked, and four strangers did not become family.
I like to think back to the day we met: a brutally hot and humid New York August day. Stumbling onto the first floor of a church rectory, wiping the sweat off our hands before shaking them. Dragging suitcases up four flights of stairs. We sat awkward and excited in an unfamiliar living room, waiting for our support people to arrive. Should we take off our masks? Probably, we’re roommates now.
At some point, we ran up the narrow, slanting staircase to the roof and watched as Harlem unfolded around us. I had never lived in a big city before, certainly no city as overwhelming and iconic as New York City. Stella suggested that we take a photo, a jumping photo, our first together. “We will look back at the end of the year, and it will be iconic.”
We jumped, all game, landing easily and goofily, unaware that this would become the foundation of our community. We would jump, but only together.
In our community, every voice is heard and respected. When a boundary is set, no questions are asked. It is the healthiest home environment I have ever had.
This doesn’t mean we don’t disagree and get irritated and knock heads. We do all those things - knowing the strength of our community and our commitment to each other will keep us grounded.
Our community is bold and loving and warm and hilarious. When asked how we got it so right at some point during the year, I responded, “We are all perfect people and I think it’s really easy to live with perfect people.”
While there is a possibility that we are not perfect as individuals, I believe we are a little bit closer to perfection when we are together. My community, my roommates, my best friends have taught me to both share and receive unconditional love. We have a built a life together in New York City, but when the four of us are together, I am home.
Brittany served as a JV with New York State Tenants & Neighbors Information Service in Harlem, NY from 2021-22. Brittany and her community-mates have continued to live together in NYC after their year of service with JVC.