20 Avon St

I’m barely finding time to eat nowadays, let alone blog!  Quite a shame, really, because I have tons of things to say (as always).  So here’s my big chance to tell you all about my housemates – one of the best parts of my life since August!

My conducting teacher, Jeff Douma, joked that I must have walked around New Haven singing Beautiful Saviour upon my arrival, in search of other Lutheran college grads.  Jeff’s a Concordia Moorhead grad himself, so he’s on the inside of that joke (…Beautiful Saviour is the song that closes each St. Olaf Choir performance).  The real story is that I connected with my friend Martha, who did Lutheran Volunteer Corps the same year I did, to see if any of her Yale friends needed roommates.  Turns out her twin brother, John, his wife Anna (pronounced Ah-na) and friends Joel and Nicole were looking for one more housemate.  Seemed a bit risky to me.  I was about to go to a new school in a new town and live with four people I didn’t know in a house I’d never seen.  So naturally, I said yes.  I mean, what the heck, I’m always up for new adventures!

My gamble was totally worth it.  I lucked out with fantastic housemates who are quickly becoming new best friends.  I love it when that happens.  Here’s a quick rundown about each of them:

  • John (Martha’s twin brother) is an ’08 St. Olaf grad who studied Religion and American Studies.  After graduating, John did a year of Americorps in Minneapolis.  ’09-10, he spent a year at Holden Village working as a chef with Anna.  There they got engaged, married just over a year ago, then immediately moved out to New Haven in Fall 2010.  Now John is a 2nd-year student in the Masters of Divinity program here at Yale.  He’s on track to become a Lutheran pastor of sorts.  When he’s not cooking something delicious, he’s usually up late writing papers, asking me about the boys in my life, and telling me to blog.  John, this post is for you.
  • Anna is an ’09 Concordia Moorhead grad who majored in English, minored in Music and Religion.  Her story post-college is interwoven with John’s – Holden Village, marriage, and life in New Haven.  During John’s first year in Div school, Anna made efforts to continue cooking, working a few different jobs around New Haven.  This past summer, she worked at Common Ground – a charter school that focuses on environmental education and urban farming.  This fall, she started a Masters in teaching program at the University of New Haven.  She spends her days subbing at an inner city school in town, and her evenings going to class.  Anna is great at telling stories and great at reacting to my usually lame stories.  One of our favorite pastimes is discovering mutual friends, which we continue to do almost every day.  (It’s like we’re long lost relatives or something!)  We are often told we’re a lot alike, though she’s the middle of 3 children, and I’m the baby…so there are clearly some differences that go along with that.
  • Nicole is an ’08 grad from St. Olaf, just like John.  She majored in Environmental Studies with a focus on Economics.  After graduating, she received the Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford for 2 years.  During that time, she received 2 masters degrees (something having to do with public health).  She moved to New Haven because she received a job doing food policy and obesity research for Yale.  Nicole is incredibly thoughtful and always a great listener.  She’s one of the best question-askers I’ve met…a skill I hope to learn from her this year.  Nicole always brightens the day in little ways, like putting flowers in our bathroom, cooking something awesome (anyone sense a theme here??), or bringing home interesting plants she finds on her walks/runs. (I don’t have a good picture of Nicole, but she looks like Julia Roberts, so that image will have to do until I make better use of my camera!)
  • Joel is an ’08 grad from St. Olaf, just like John and Nicole.  In fact, the three of them spent 4 months of college studying abroad in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.  Joel majored in Religion and Political Science with a concentration in Latin American/Latino studies.  He spent the year after college doing Americorps in the Twin Cities (living with John and friends), and then was hired by Get Ready! to tutor 4th graders.  (“I answered the phones, ‘Get Ready, this is Joel!'”)  He stayed there until August (a true Minnesota boy), moving to New Haven to start Divinity School this fall.  He’s on track to become a Lutheran pastor of sorts, just like John.  I got to meet Joel this summer while I lived in the Twin Cities.  The first impression I gave was less than satisfactory – I was 20 minutes late, and on top of that, when he went in for a hug, I stuck my hand out for a handshake.  Gahhhh.  Joel is super sincere and always makes me laugh.  I’m collecting funny stories about his mom which could probably make up an entire post one day.

Coming home to these 4 incredible people is always refreshing.  I love that music isn’t their primary thing, though they are all musicians of some sort.  Instead, home is an escape from the overdose of music I get throughout the day.  We spend our time together eating, laughing, telling ridiculous stories, doing homework, getting distracted, having deep conversations, and getting distracted again.  We support one another’s daily ups and downs in a beautiful intentional community-kind-of-way…something I didn’t think would be possible during graduate school.

I’m learning how important it is for me to prioritize things like hiking with my housemates or getting up early for housemate breakfast.  Sounds like I’m slacking in school, but those things really do keep me grounded in a way that gives me the energy I need to excel in the school stuff.

My dad keeps reminding me to spend time with people who are different from me – a great piece of advice.  But I am starting to understand better (…is it my old age?) how nice it can be to spend time with people who are similar.  I didn’t walk around New Haven singing Beautiful Saviour – nice try, Jeff, but we never sang that at Luther! – but I did stumble upon 4 new friends that I’m pretty sure my lifelong journey has been setting me up to meet.  Funny how that happens.

But as they say on Reading Rainbow, don’t take my word for it!!  Come and visit us yourself at 20 Avon St!  We have unlimited places to sleep and love having company.

L to R: John, Me, Anna, Joel, George, Nicole


2 thoughts on “20 Avon St

  1. Correction: Anna clued me in that the Concordia Moorhead choir sings Beautiful Saviour as their final song at each concert (and not just St. Olaf). Goes to show how much I know about my sister schools!! Anna was especially sure to mention that of the people in our house, she – the Concordia grad – is the only one who has sung that piece in such a setting…NOT the Oles in my house!

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