I’ve mentioned before that my older sister, Brooke, and her fiancé moved into our apartment building last summer. They live three floors above us, in an apartment that surprisingly looks a bit different than ours and — dern them — has a better view. As you might imagine, we hang out a lot. Essentially, we bounce back and forth between apartments during the week depending on who has more wine/beer and better snacks.
Brooke and me in her apartment the day they got the keys.
We share a lot of friends too. And they’re all curious: what’s it like living in the same building? Sometimes they ask all of us. Sometimes they whisper it to one of us. So I chatted with Brooke, and our little sister, Taylor, who lives in L.A. but visits often, about all the fun and funny things associated with Brooke and I living so close to each other. I wanted both of their perspectives since I get asked a lot about how Taylor feels about the arrangement — left out? I asked Jordan what he thought about it too. The short story is that we all love it. Here are some anecdotes from our eight months on the commune.
On how often we see each other
I see Brooke on purpose about every other day, sometimes more, especially when one of the boys is traveling. Even if we lived across the street from each other, there’s no way we’d see each other as often as we do living 9 flights of stairs and 38 seconds apart. Yep. We timed it. Living in the same building is the difference between running upstairs to tell a story in person and calling each other. We don’t have to put shoes on to see each other, which Brooke says makes it feel like living in the dorms only better.
It’s always an option that we’ll hang, so, outside of special occasions, there’s no reason to plan when we’ll get together. On that topic though, we’ve got some boundaries set up too, and we agree that one of the reasons why the arrangement works is because we’re respectful of each other’s space and honest about when we want to hang out and when we don’t. We almost never arrive at the other’s door without calling or texting first. I think it’d be harder, though still joyous, to live in the same building as a friend who I didn’t feel comfortable telling, “Jordan and I have a date with the couch tonight and you’re not invited.” I don’t mind telling my sister that.
Sometimes, one of us will stop by just for 5 minutes to show the other one something, or borrow clothes or a dinner ingredient, but it’s pretty standard to watch TV together or host happy hour at one of our places a few times a week. Plus, the boys share an Xbox, so that happens. But the real fun is when we run into each other on accident — in the elevator, the mailroom, or better, on the street. It’s then that I realize how unique of an experience ours is. On this topic, Brooke agrees:
“I think [the weirdest part] might be running into you outside of the apartment. I’ve gotten used to it now, but when I first moved here and I would see you walking on the sidewalk a block ahead, I would internally yell, “Kate! That’s my sister! How weird!” But I think that’s because I had lived so far away for so long that running into any family member was just not something that would happen.”
I once caught Brooke and Jerry hopping into a cab on their date night, and I felt like a mom watching her teenager go out for the first time, except I felt that way about both Brooke and Jerry. It was so funny and fun.
On being a guest in our building
Taylor had some cute thoughts on the arrangement. She pointed out that Brooke and I living in the same building is pretty much as close as we’ll all get to ever living in the same house again, so when she comes to visit, she said it feels like we’ve entered a time machine back to our childhood, only gone are the trampoline and bangs that start halfway back on our heads. On that note, she offered this funny analogy:
“I sometimes feel like I have divorced sisters. There was one occasion where I felt torn about where to sleep and lugging my bag from apartment to apartment. But then it made me feel really loved to know that when I come to visit, it is still a big deal. Now, I just try to sleep half the time in one apartment and half the time in the other apartment.”
If I was Taylor, I’d choose the apartment with the better stocked pantry, and, damn it, Brooke always has good snacks.
On communal living being awesome
Another obvious upside to living in the same building is sharing stuff. Out of eggs? Borrow from your sister. Have “nothing to wear”? Borrow from your sister. When one of us is out of town, the others will retrieve the mail, water the plants, and bring packages inside. I’ve already told Brooke and Jerry that they need to at least have their first baby in the building. Can you imagine? Built in babysitters.
It’s also happened a few times that I’ve come home to my mom’s car parked outside the building or a text from my dad saying, “I’m upstairs.” That part is not just funny to us, but to everyone in the building, as they see the fam leave out the front door for dinner and trek back in for dessert. It feels like the building is our family’s playground, especially when Taylor is home and walking on the stairs between apartments in her PJs.
One night I headed upstairs to Brooke’s apartment past my neighbors chatting in the hall. When I got there, I realized I had forgotten my phone. I went back downstairs, and on my way back up, my neighbors asked if I was running the stairs or something. When I explained that my sister lived upstairs and I had forgotten something, they were incredulous. In a city where calling apartment searching “competitive” is a gross understatement, people take what they can get, so how on earth did we end up in the same building? I think that’s the part people can’t wrap their heads around, and really, neither can we! Somehow we did though. Now every time we see those neighbors, they wave and smile and comment that they love seeing us together. Our property manager too seems to brighten a bit when he sees Brooke and I together, though I’m not sure if I’m mistaking sentiment for money signs in his eyeballs.
On having more room for activities
I love one point that Jordan made which was that living in the same building means we’ve got built in best friends. Jerry and Jordan were quick friends from the start, but now they’re mountain bike buddies and boys-night-out partners in crime, not to mention that they practically share a brain in Cards Against Humanity. Brooke and I make random trips to the cute shops in our neighborhood on a whim and cook dinner together. Plus, Brooke and Jordan bond over making fun of my quirks, and Jerry and I do the same thing to Brooke. We’ve got a good thing going, that’s for sure.
I think we all dread the day that the first of us leaves the building. We talk about finding homes next to each other outside of the city when that times comes, and while that’s a while off and perhaps very unlikey, I really can’t imagine needing to put shoes on to go to their house, let alone not living within walking distance. It will be so sad! By that time, I hope we’ll have forced Taylor in on the action too.
No neighbors will ever compare. I’m very aware that these are the glory years.
Who could you live next door to?