Last December, I was looking for a place to live after my time at the Starline art space ended. I found a mad cheap and gloriously restored Victorian fourplex with bay windows and high ceilings right across the street. After we snagged the best unit, I moved in with Kat, my roommate from freshman year, and Leah, whom I barely knew but now consider one of my best friends. We are living it UP in apartment three, which would be satisfying enough, but the stars aligned to give us the best bunch of neighbors possible.

The guy upstairs is so HAPPY and has so much ENERGY, and now we play tennis together on a weekly basis. That’s huge for me because I couldn’t find anyone to play with in Oakland until I spied a racket in his apartment. He has a dog named Phife that I usually walk once a week, which pays for our portion of the internet connection we share with him, and he doesn’t seem to care that a bunch of WiLd and CrAzY teenagers live below him.

We met our downstairs neighbor when she invited my roommates and me over for dinner, and we ended up drunk and doing karaoke knowing that (a) we never had to worry about making too much noise ever again, and (b) we had ourselves a new buddy. Her roommate hangs as hard as we do despite the fact that he’s a decade older.

Two of my female friends in the building are a couple, and they say they are married even though California doesn’t want to recognize that legally these days. They run a vegan food truck that delivers indescribably delicious meals. Another dude is building a screen-printing studio in our backyard this summer! One time, I asked him to go to a show when none of my other friends could come, and he was the MOST FUN companion ever. He found this gallery across the street that was giving out free beer, so he was shuttling the beer to me as I watched the music!

Here’s this almost ridiculously amazing cast of characters who are not only neighbors but total buddies. This weekend, all of my social activity resulted from knocking on their doors and spontaneously hanging out. Saturday night I came home and most of the girls in the building were around, so we made a fire pit in the backyard. As I was writing this, our friend came upstairs to borrow our living room for a scene in a movie that her friend is making this afternoon. We knock on each other’s doors at two AM all the time to see if people want to party (or that might just be me), borrow cups of sugar, walk each other’s dogs, the whole deal.

Most memorably, when I came home from getting attacked, the entire building was in my kitchen in less than 60 seconds with Band-Aids and Neosporin and a phone to call the police. The morning after, the owners of the vegan truck brought me kumquat biscuits with kumquat jam, and they just made everything bad go away. There couldn’t have been a better substitute for my mom. (Maybe they were better than my mom because they were totally calm!) And a community has sprung from our friendship with one another.

This is like a revelation to me, after my only-childhood full of alone time and never knowing my neighbors, because we were moving almost every year. Over our backyard bonfire, we tried to discern which person in the building played each familial role. My roommates and I rep the little sisters, but things got kind of convoluted when we started assigning parental roles. We might see each other as peers too much to be able to look at each other that way. But see? We already consider each other a FAMILY! This has to be the best living situation in the world, and it’s mine. How can I make it last forever? ♦