I love my apartment. I really and truly love it. Sometimes I’ll be walking from one room to another and I’ll stop in the doorway, lean against the frame, and soak in every detail of the room in front of me. These rooms, these walls, are the purest expressions of the lives my roommate and I have built over our three years here, the women we have become, and the place from which we will build toward our futures.
Home is special. It’s important. It’s the place we return every night, the place that will be waiting for us after all the other lights are out. Even though an apartment is often, as it is for me now, a temporary place, it’s no less a part of my reality than the forever home is for its family. And yet it has never occurred to me to think of this as a place for community.
It seems I’m not alone. According to a recent study conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Trulia, two-thirds of Americans say they like their neighbors, but only half even know their names. I’m not surprised. By the time I get home, I’m often tired from a long day, and the last thing I want to have to do is take the risk of entering into the complicated life of someone I might have nothing in common with except physical proximity. It feels even riskier to invest when I know that, like me, my neighbor has committed to stay only as far as the next 12 months.
Apartment life often feels transitional. We apartment dwellers tend to be childless, and more single than not, with unpredictable comings and goings. With so many people in such a small space, it can be easy to feel anonymous. It can be even easier to accept this anonymity in exchange for not having to make the effort to engage the people around us when we have our own lives to lead, our own places to be.1