Whenever living arrangements come up in conversation and I have to explain that I live with my best friend, I always make the same joke: “We’ve kind of got a Bert and Ernie situation going on.”
I have been living with my best friend for seven years now. After a bacchanalian year in college, we split for a few years before reconvening in 2017. In some states, we are either in, or on our way to being in a common law marriage. After looking at the tax benefits of marriage, we only kind-of-jokingly talked about getting married for real.
For the sake of anonymity — even though I really don’t think he gives a shit — I will be referring to him as Goofus. Although, Ernie might be a more fitting pseudonym since Wikipedia describes Ernie as “the naïve troublemaker” in the dynamic between Bert and Ernie. Goofus is most certainly Ernie in that regard.
When Goofus and I found that house available for lease on Kelsey Lane in Blacksburg all those years ago, deciding to become roommates was a no-brainer. In retrospect that feels like a fait accompli for all the amazing memories we’d make together the next 10 years.
On a random Wednesday night in 2012, in the heart of finals season, we drove to Greensboro to see New Found Glory with an Italian exchange student named Fabio.
We hatched the idea to bike across America one hazy night in 2013, then we went out did the damn thing.
On countless occasions we took a few shots, went downtown and inevitably had this exact interaction:
Dov Kleiman @NFL_DovKleimanWhat an amazing moment between Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods https://t.co/G4cxRA0bVh
Then we’d head back to the bar the following morning and ask the bartender if they’d kindly seen our IDs, debit cards, dignity, or some combination of the three.
We processed breakups together. We celebrated achievements both monumental and trivial together.
Last year Goofus texted me that he “knew someone who has a Covid vaccine hook-up at an abandoned Food Lion in Hanover,” and it turned out he wasn’t messing with me. We most certainly celebrated getting vaxxed.
Living with Goofus was the heartbeat of my 20s, just reliably happening in the background and carrying me along. Things were sometimes absurd, sometimes stressful, but always, always a ton of fun.
I say this with full sincerity: I consider myself so fucking lucky to have gotten to live with my best friend this long. But the sun is now setting on our time as roommates.
This summer Goofus will be moving into a house he bought, and if the lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, I will close on a condo in just over a week.
Of course you get to know someone super well by spending 70 percent of your 20s sharing a roof, but I think it also helps you stay tethered to the thirst for life that’s innate to being young. Just last week talked about getting back on the road for a cross-country bike trip.
Living together’s kept us from feeling that dreaded post-college drift that builds dams between friends. It’s happened to me with some old friends, and let me tell ya, it stinks on ice. Fortunately for me, I don’t think I could get rid of Goofus even if I wanted to.
And I never felt shame about having roommates into my 30s. It’s saved me money (and honestly that saved money is the only reason I was able to pull off getting this condo under contract) and you always have someone to hang out with. I’m sure there are delights only living alone can provide, but I’m okay being out of the loop on that stuff.
I love Goofus. I mean, I could be legally recognized as his spouse, I better love him. It fills me with a great sadness that we won’t be roommates anymore.
At least, that is, until we’re both stumbling around a nursing home mumbling New Found Glory lyrics and playing the Sunday crossword.