An Open Letter to 2424

I have to write this quick. I’m sitting at Map Room and the person we don’t like is serving today. Plus, I gotta get on the road before Chicago rush hour traffic gets worse than it already is.

Rachel — when you called me to visit New Zealand with you, I thought we were just going to see Reece. I learned my lesson that that’s not how you operate. We were going to New Zealand to have an adventure together.

7 months later, you called me on a whim and asked me to live with you. We weren’t friends. We hardly talked before New Zealand, and I don’t remember talking much afterwards.

We moved into 2424.

Reece decided to stay with us, and then these two people, AJ and MoMo, came too, in our “4-ish bedroom apt”. I was pissed. Who are these people, and why are they trying to invade my new friendship with Rachel Westberg? Back then, I had a convoluted idea of what love is. I was angry and questioned most things. At 2424, you learn that love only widens the circle. If the circle is closing or feels small, you’re doing it wrong.

Over time, I got to know you better, Rach. Reece moved out. I met a lot of AJ’s friends from Bartlett. Johnny and Charli came. 2424 was becoming a home.

I love getting to say that we all turned 24 here (sorry Johnny). I love our recklessness through the years, and how it slowly receded into some semblance of maturity and loyalty. We gradually grew all while getting punched in the face by reality every once in a while to remind us not to take life too seriously. Those hard times that all of us faced have made some beautiful people.

I meet other people and spend time with people who worry about the most foolish of problems that don’t affect anything except their ego.

We don’t judge. We do our best not to gossip. We laugh at ourselves. We laugh at each other. Case in point:

Nisha: Johnny, wow, you look good in black. Oh my goodness..

Johnny: Reaaallly??!?! ::blushes::: I mean, well, I try.

Nisha: Calm down. You never wear black so you never look good.

I remember thinking about moving out all the time. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, but I thought I had to. You learn how to trust your intuition at 2424. I learned that we know ourselves better than we think we do. I stayed.

AJ — I remember sitting on our roof with you. Yes — that roof where we risk our lives climbing up the shingles for a distant and obstructed view of our skyline. We played Judy Garland songs and talked about nothing. I went from “Who is this guy?!” to getting off the RER in Le Marais in Paris two months ago, carrying my duffel bag after a horrendous red eye, and seeing you come out of the blue door of our AirBnB while Parisians whizzed past me left and right. So much for not liking you. We shared a wall for 4 years, and I love you. I love that you were in a bad mood last night (Sorry Corbs, haha). We are better when we’re real, and seeing your pouty face in that video from last night makes me crack up. Speaking of Corbin, if he is any indication of who you are, then the rest of us have to keep up. Corbin is funny, genuine, flawed, and loves sugar like I do. I had someone to talk about race and politics with during my last few months here because of you. AJ, there’s no good reason why we became friends in the gut of our 20’s, why we went to Paris together, spent hours at Map Room, trekked to the South Side, or still sing “cube” at random. There’s no reason, but it exists. And although we are different in many ways, we used it to our advantage. Our deep curiosity and interests in general make our friendship forever evolving.

Johnny — The first thing I thought of when I wrote your name was how many times I just cried like a lunatic in front of you, and you just listened. There is no better friend out there than you. You have been there for all the big moments these last four years. There were times when no one was going to be around for my birthday, or an event, and you were there. The holidays are always hard for me, and you brought me into your celebrations without any hesitation. Even seeing your patience last night on the phone with Comcast, I am so impressed, and I hope it rubbed off on me. Also — You were NOT funny 4 years ago (hehe), but now I can’t stop laughing when you’re around. Remember when I was complaining to you about how sometimes I feel invisible, and you didn’t respond, but just turned off the light in the room, and walked away? Hahahaa I still laugh at that. I could go on forever. You are my best friend, and I do think we will live together again. But first, we have a lot of countries and cities to visit. I just have one last question — CAN YOU BRING THE CAR AROUND?!

This place. Right next to Red Hot Ranch, which I call the North Star, because its flashing yellow lights guide you home all night long — or John’s Pizzeria, with the cooks hanging outside, possibly engaging with recreational drugs, always made me feel safer. I called them my guardian angels. And then there’s Sherry. I AM her favorite, and don’t any of you forget that.

It’s really hard to pick a favorite thing about 2424. So you just have to pick the lifestyle. I remember jumping down the back stairs, not knowing Charli was sleeping there, and I’d step on her body while trying to get through the room. Jessie — who is the sweetest, who we still talk about all the time. I’m so glad you moved in. Our Alice in Wonderland upstairs, coming downstairs to find something you left was gone because Johnny threw it away, the fact that none of us have keys to get inside, the spontaneous trips out to eat, Minnesota, our crash courses in dating, sitting on the floor in my room not moving, laying vertical, etc. etc. etc. OH! and the first 2424 offspring?!?! MoMo, congrats. I am so happy for you.

So — Okay — I really need to go.

Rachel — I had to end with you. There is no one like you. You have a contagious attitude, and you are the funniest person (“How is your hair gonna stand up in lightning if it’s raining?” hehe). Thank you for recommending that I see your mother. Thank you for bringing Jake and Erica around us. I love seeing you vertical on Saturday mornings when I finally come down the stairs. When I was stirring with inhibition, you taught me to laugh about it and move on. Our adventures have still only just begun. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. You saved me, Rach.

Rach, you created a sitcom out of 2424. The 4, 5, 6 of us in this outdated house in Chicago. We all did some dumb stuff in that place, but I look back with overwhelming gratitude. These are the things that stories are made of. You don’t watch a tv show because you know how it ends. You watch because anything can happen and usually the weirder things do (case in point: your friend. the lawn. the police, etc). That’s what 2424 was. We were a story worth telling, watching, and remembering.

And now, 2424 is getting wedding invites, save the dates, and gift thank yous every single day in our mail. It’s a testament to where we are in life, but 2424 taught me that no story should be similar or predictable. We are such better people for the lives we are living, and we were the ones that chose it. The world may judge us on our relationship status, but how shitty is a world that doesn’t care if you’re happy, if you’re in a healthy relationship, or if you love yourself or not, as long as they get to think you have someone to say goodnight to? 2424 was so much better than any guy I’ve met.

It’s the most important lesson we’ve learned: Anything can change in one year, one month, a day. We’re exactly where we are supposed to be. Anything can happen, and usually it does.

okay, I REALLY gotta go now.

I love you Rachel, Johnny, and AJ.

-n