It takes time, and a certain level of comfort before a group of strangers are willing to call themselves friends. At first, they often don’t know the right word to describe the situation but the signs are there – the shared meals, common laughs, and occasional memories passed between drinks or during the adverts when watching someone’s favourite program on TV. Suddenly the strangers realize they know more about each other than they meant to or thought they to. Most of all, they realize that they don’t mind and even welcome those moments of togetherness that just a few days before had been vaguely awkward.
So it was in the house where I stayed in Auckland. After weeks of cocktail party-polite inquiries as to how work was or how blisteringly cold our rooms were, the ice started to melt between us. It began as a night or two of the group shivering in front of the TV in the chilly living room and then evolved into sharing pieces of our hearts with strangers who didn’t know us well enough to judge. No matter what was said or done no one said anything aloud as if acknowledging our someone's problems made them real.
Then one weekend, something changed. Friday night began innocently enough with small talk while someone prepared a meal in the communal kitchen. Somehow, within a few hours everyone was drunk (some Typ0s more than others), we were dancing, and we were being more honest with each other than sobriety probably would have allowed. Although we had all gleaned the basics about one another from snatches of overheard conversations, the talk that night opened windows onto the truth that a lack of grain alcohol probably would have left shuttered. The next night, despite promises from some people to never drink again, we were back at it. This time, however, the dancing was moved to K Road when supplies had to be replenished.
We weren’t about to become the Real World, New Zealand but as the weeks passed into months, and people came and went from the house, we all learned more about one another and somehow weren’t completely scared off. Although the likely didn’t realize it, the tears, haircuts, fights, dances, parties, movies, silences, smokes, salads, and those seven strangers helped the process of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.
I know I blogged recently about friendship found on a drunken airplane ride, so finding it in a rooming house shouldn’t be any different I suppose. Yet this one took me by surprise. We were strangers who made a point to stay that way for weeks, making certain to never delve beyond the surface of politeness. Whether it was the passage of time and the forced proximity, the lingering effects of too much alcohol, or a simple of case of familiarity breeding insanity, walls were broken down and tenuous new threads of something greatly resembling friendship were formed.
“This is the true story of eight strangers paying to live in a house in Auckland, New Zealand. Find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. The Kiwi World.”