NOTE: I re-read this blog from my dear friend and former roomie, Jen Scott the other day. She wrote it in 2011, but nonetheless, for posterity’s sake, I have decided to post it here. Missing you!
“When I first moved to DC, I lived on a blow-up bed and the generosity of incredible friends. ‘The Dorm’, as we called it, quickly became one of Dupont Circle’s finest examples of authentic bohemia. It lasted for longer than any of us would have thought possible, until we were eventually dismantled at the insistence of the more strait-laced landlord.
I reluctantly decamped to a so-called English basement, thinking that I too could save my pennies by thriving happily below ground in a glorified boiler room.
Wild Pacific Salmon, madam?
Shortly after unpacking my single box of possessions I was dispatched to Bangladesh for work, where six weeks in a five star hotel suite ruined my housing palette and whetted my appetite for a place to call home. I stumbled off a sleepless 36 hour journey back to Washington and opened the door, only to burst into tears at the sight of my sad little basement with its non-existent kitchen, strip lighting and cracked floor tiles. I guess it’s possible that I was not actually as low maintenance as I’d like to have imagined. Perched atop my unopened suitcase, a quick craigslist search later (‘light, loft, space, DC’ ) returned the magnificent apartment that we came to call the Aquarium.
pre-party for the New Years Eve Disco Ball 2011
The apartment had been posted only an hour before and I hadn’t showered in more hours than were optimal. But having become familiar with the extreme sharkiness of the Washington rental market, I went round to see it that same day. Together with my friend Zara, we plotted to bag the space and began transforming this enormous, inviting blank canvas into our home.
the Aquarium may not always have had eggs in the fridge, but we were rarely lacking for a fine beverage selection.
It was a time of transition for both of us – we changed jobs, ended relationships, began new ones, found love, practiced yoga, experimented with the arts, cooked dinners, nursed injuries, threw parties, created a neighborhood cinema, installed a disco ball, slept through hermit weekends, hosted family, and lay quietly on our sofas watching the seasons come and go through the enormous 22 foot window. We were not without drama and trials. But somehow the space generated its own power to restore calm at the end of each day.
the more, the merrier
Winter went with a bittersweet transition, as Zara launched into a new phase of life and adventure in Mexico. But then my friends Rachel and spring arrived, and the dream lived on. Flux was a natural part of the Aquarium habitat; Rachel’s summer of weddings coincided with my summer of work trips. Our home had a strong gravitational pull, and the urban family just sort of drifted in at the slightest summon. The months ran into each other as we added to the stock pile of cumulative contentment.
It is with mixed feelings that I am now the one to leave. I have thought carefully about leaving the city, but I will for sure miss the wonderful people I have known there. The Aquarium has been one of the most constant friends I’ve made in Washington. In my itinerant adult life, it’s taught me for the first time the value of a safe haven, and the joy of making and sharing a place of your own. I’ve also learned that a nice home is a great tool for forging a community. But it is not the only one. Like houses, friendship communities need maintenance; though I am hoping that with a lot of investment and love, they can be much more mobile.”