Bergen-Butler, back in the day.
This weekend Jeff and I drove up to Stockbridge, MA for the wedding of two of our close friends, Betsy and Fipp (aka Andrew). Betsy is 1/6 of what was, for a brief but sparkling period of my personal history, a group called Bergen-Butler. I am 1/6 of this group, as is Ellaree, who lived with Betsy and me at 392 Butler Street (3rd floor) from 2003-2005. The boys—Bajir, Kabir, and Alex, 3/6 all together—lived at 665 Bergen Street (3rd floor) for approximately the same amount of time. Prior to living together, each of us girls had spent time sleeping on the boys’ couch or subletting one of their rooms (Bajir in particular was wont to go off to third world countries for months at a time, Kabir toured with his folksy Illumination Band singing songs made from Rumi poems, and Alex chased an ex-girlfriend to Russia for a spell.) All six of us were in love with each other, mostly platonically but occasionally romantically (though those bouts of heartsickness were never shared with the objects of our affections, let alone consummated). The boys fed us vegetarian curry and screened Alex’s film-nerd movies on their elaborate audio-video set-up, while we girls introduced them to reality TV, made up songs for them, and drew them elaborate cartoons (well, that was all Ellaree).
When I lived with the boys for a few months, they introduced me to the ‘Stairway Clean,’ which involved cleaning the entire three-bedroom apartment in the 7 or so minutes it took to play “Stairway to Heaven.” I remember these cleans as being rather Zen up until the bridge, when we realized that we only had 60 seconds to finish, at which point we would scream and scrub and fling ourselves with only nanoseconds to spare onto the couch. The boys also introduced me to some rather suspect house rules, such as “if one person takes his shirt off, everyone has to” and the practice of ordering any house member at any time to do push-ups.
Back at the girl house, we shared lots of pajama time and encouraged each other to quit smoking, usually while puffing on cigarettes out of Betsy’s open window. Betsy and Fipp had started dating in college, and so none of us ever really knew her without him. There was a brief break-up in 2004, during which Kabir came bearing his guitar and his Beatles songbook, and we all crowded around our wounded member as if the mere strength of all 6 of us together could heal anything. It could. We have all survived break-ups, fights (with each other), evictions, and even police visits (not our fault) without losing the incredible, easy love we have for each other. We are family, albeit a goofy one.
Betsy’s wedding was the second wedding in the group, Jeff’s and mine being the first, and so far we have all made it to both (a pact dating back to 2005). We all came to Stockbridge out of love for Betsy, but we also came for each other, to recapture the amazing feeling of not just revisiting but essentially going back to the time when we all lived just blocks from one another. We laughed so loud this weekend, drank so much, stayed up so late, and bonded so deeply that it was like recharging a battery in my heart; I think we all wished that we could have stayed, suspended in time, in this weekend forever. (Happy wedding, Bets and Fipp—thanks for one of the best times I’ve ever had.)