Have you ever wished that your life was like a sitcom? You know, like those TV shows where an unlikely group of friends shares a small apartment, and their best friends live just across the hall. I know that when I was a teenager, I always secretly hoped that my life would somehow turn out like that. It seemed like it would be so much fun to have a group of people that really shared the ups and downs of life with you, especially during those awkward years of trying to figure out adulthood. I assumed, though, that those kinds of friendships only happened on TV.
To my surprise, however, my early twenties wound up being almost exactly like a sitcom, except in real life. Starting when I was 23, I lived for about two years in a nice but small condo with a young married couple, Allison and Levi. My then-boyfriend (now-husband) Thomas lived about ten minutes away, but he came over almost every night for dinner. We even had our best friend, Dani, who lived next door and always had a key to our front door.
The five of us—Allison, Levi, Dani, Thomas, and I—became incredibly close through the strange and often ridiculous adventures that we went through during those years. For example, there was a time that all of our cars broke down on the exact same day, and we had one particularly unfortunate incident when the Roomba vacuum cleaner smeared dog poop across the entire living room floor.
It was also a critical time in my relationship with Thomas. Although Thomas and I had technically been in a long distance relationship for almost three years before I moved to Hawaii, we only got the chance to finally live in the same city because Allie and Levi generously offered me a room and support to start over in a new place. But even more important than providing us the opportunity for our relationship to progress, our friends taught Thomas and me some very important truths about marriage and family—both by their examples and through the struggles we all went through together.
In all honesty, it wasn’t always easy to live with such a diverse group of people in tight quarters. As roommates, we had our share of frustrations and disagreements, and Allison was especially very patient with me as I slowly figured out more mature ways to deal with those situations. For a while I really struggled living with their two dogs, for example, but I learned that sharing a home requires a lot of patience, adjustment and generally just being gracious. These were all skills I would also one day need in my marriage.
Living with a married couple also gave me the opportunity to see, first hand, the day-to-day reality of a healthy marriage. I saw my friends really disagree sometimes, yet I was constantly in awe of the depth of their love for each other. I was also moved by the radical generosity and kindness that they expressed towards every single person who walked through their door (and even sometimes just to random people on the street). I was blessed to witness a marriage truly built on service and humility, and Thomas and I have consciously sought to reflect some of that generosity in our own relationship.
My friendship with Dani taught me about the importance of being thoughtful and going out of your way to take care of your loved ones. Certain times that she reached out to me with kindness—as well as times that I was challenged to be a more thoughtful friend to her—have stuck with me. I was also privileged to be part of Dani’s support system as she went through the first year of her own marriage long distance because of the Army. My friend’s courage and commitment to her marriage despite the odds were a great encouragement to me in the months leading up to my vows.
Living in a real life sitcom turned out to be even better than I could have imagined. The nearly two years that I lived crowded into the condo with my friends (and their pets!) were overfilled with love, joy, laughter, strength, and forgiveness. And in many ways, even though we all live in different places now, the story of our friendship still continues. We visit each other as much as we can, but I know I will always miss living close to my friends.
One of the most important legacies of my sitcom family, however, lives on in my marriage. My husband and I will never forget how our friends have irrevocably shaped our relationship. I know that we would not be the people that we are today without the love and examples that they have shown us.
Picture: This is a photo of our little “sitcom family” that was taken on Thomas’s and my wedding day in 2014. I love this picture because it reminds me of how our friends were essential to helping us get to this point in our lives.