Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Welcome Home

Our best friends, Nick and Natasha, finally got their condo. They bought the loft-style apartment two years ago and have been at the mercy of a contractor ever since. Jeff and I drove by from time to time, watching as iron beams became walls, the metal skeleton continuously sub-divided into homes for hopeful young couples. Each has lived with their parents in the suburbs, their savings accounts running-over, their boredom and impatience too. When the keys were finally delivered on Monday, it was surreal. They'd finally live downtown, just blocks away from us. With an excited squeal and a turn of the key, weekend sleepovers at our house instantly became a thing of the past; our guest bedroom echoes with their absence, and bittersweetly, we no longer have to share our pillows. I'll miss falling asleep to the familiar night-noise of these two: the breathing, the restlessness, the morning gastrointestinal noise. There's a strange selfish-sadness mixed into my happiness for them. Something like empty nesting, I guess.

They've been preparing for this day for a long time. Nick relishing the last loads of laundry done by his Mom, Natasha buying up housewares, stockpiling them in her parents' house like an interior designer's emergency preparedness kit. So many boxes, sealed-up for years, holding items we found together at flea markets and antique shops. Everything from glassware and tchochkes to furniture in desperate need of her love and a smart reupholstering. It was fun to finally crack those crates, to see her face light up as she was reacquainted with a set of vintage juice glasses or a teak salad bowl she'd forgotten about. I remember the day we found each piece, a pair of treasure-hunters stumbling excitedly, a contact high from the dust.

We unpacked, assembled and organized for the whole day, Natasha and I moving around each other in her compact kitchen. We've always been able to share a room, no matter how small. Like ballerinas, we glide around each other; she's the only person I can have in the kitchen with me, the only one who doesn't irritate. I placed her things in cupboards where they made sense to me, figuring I'd spend nearly as much time searching for the salt and peppers as she would. Digging through a box, I'd hold up a set of candle-holders as if to say "Do you really want these?", because, you see, not every flea-market-find retains its charm.

Flubs and Tubs (as they're known) have been fixtures in our life (and house) for many years. Jeff and Nick went to high school together, Jeff and Natasha shared a college. Jeff brought the two together almost 8 years ago, a modern-day Dolly Levi. Then I came along and we meshed like magic. Natasha and I share a bundle of neurosis, Jeff and Nick are the supposed "easy going ones". We're a well-balanced foursome. We travel together, we dinner together, we sit and do absolutely nothing together. We take each other for what we are on any given day. We know each other's moods and ticks, when to poke fun and when to shut up. They are our family and I'll miss our jam-packed-weekends - Saturday night turning into Sunday brunch and into Sunday dinner all over again. Now they'll hop a cab and sleep in their own bed, just down the block. No more pajama parties, no more gassy mornings. I'll even miss the toothpaste in the sink. Yes, Nick, you just got that in writing.

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