We're all stories, in the end.
Two unrelated stories. Two beautiful stories.
My roommates are screaming at me.
“JESS!!!! We are so glad you’re hooommmeee!!!! We have to tell you about the Cooley-Cookey scale!”
I had just walked through the door after a long day and an even more emotionally draining week, and this was what I was happily greeted with.
My roommates are a pile of giggles with their happy smiles. Yes, they’re approximately 30 years old. Yes, they are professional women with real jobs and real responsibility and real lives. Yes, they are capable of acting mature and professional. Sometimes.
But here they are, singing, dancing, and giggling, and every second reconfirming that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.
They continue with their story:
“So on the Cooley-Cookey Scale, you lie somewhere on the spectrum. If you’re Cooley, it means, you’re like, REALLY COOL! Like, It means that we don’t know if we can be friends with that person because they are SO COOL, too cool, and there's no way they would want to be friends with a Cookey.
“And if you’re a COOKEY, that means you're crazy! You know, crazy in a good way! You’re fun and silly and most of all… you’re real. Real and happy and alive and fun.
“At first, we thought you were a COOLEY - you have the coolest job and the coolest friends and you’ve done the coolest things - but now you’re climbing on the fridge and your stories are insane, so we decided you’re a COOKEY! Just like us!! AHHHHH!"
“So I’m in!?! I’m a COOKEY, too!” I exclaimed and questioned. And I joined right in with them in their singing.
If this story doesn’t make much sense to you, that’s perfectly natural; I didn’t really know what it meant to me, either, but the joy in this moment made me pull out my phone, climb on the fridge, and start taking pictures.
This silly and happy laughter has been my life for days with these gals. I just moved in less than a month ago, and while I’ve been gone traveling for most of that month, every time I am home I feel nothing less than totally and completely accepted. I am so, so, so thankful for them.
Today is an eleven year anniversary. I decided I was not going to say anything to my roommates, because while I decided a long time ago that it’s definitely a part of me, I don’t want it to be all of me.
If someone knows me - my love for life, for community, for adventure, for justice, and for fun - they know the important and defining stuff. And if they think that I’m simultaneously a cooley and a cookey, I think they’ve got me figured out pretty well.
So I’m in my kitchen, climbing on top of the fridge, snapping away pictures, screaming, singing, laughing, and loving this moment, and my roommate randomly says something:
“In memory of my mom.”
I paused the music, shocked; I put down my spaghetti spoon microphone and probed.
“Your mom?” I say. “She’s no longer living?”
"Nope!" She says. "But don’t be sad! I wrote about it on the 11 year anniversary. It’s ultimately a story of hope and redemption… Jess! Don’t cry! It’s okay, really!"
I didn’t cry. I was just so thankful to know that she knows, too, what it means to be human and what it means to lose, and as such, to love all the more and have joy all the more.
This is home, a home of many homes, a home of my friends and not necessarily my family, but it’s home.
Because what is home other than a place where you are free to be you, to love others well, to see others at their best and their worst and love them anyway?
This story was written in about ten minutes, typed on my phone, on top of my fridge, with Taylor Swift blaring and happy roommates singing in the background.
And my roommates, my two sweet roommates that are just as cooley and cooky as my sweet roommate Natalee was 11 years ago before she died, are loving life, and light and the dark in-betweens with me, and we are choosing to love, and to be real and free.
All is well.
And finally, a small excerpt from my current roommate Kelsey’s blog:
“It isn’t until our hearts break that we can fully recognize the brokenness of this world.”
And to that, I add: It isn’t until our hearts break that we can fill them back up with a deep love for life, with all of the humanness and sorrows that come along with it.
To read Kelsey's post about her mom, which I feel I could have also written myself, to reflect on that day 11 years ago, visit Joy is Eternal.
Thank you again, Jess, for sharing your heart!
I love Jessica's stories. She shares more on Instagram, and I highly recommend that you follow along. Prepare to laugh and to cry, sometimes simultaneously! In addition, her photos are incredible, so there's that, too.