The Doorknob Story, or How Kemi Met Claire

 Photography by Rebekah Barlas

Photography by Rebekah Barlas

Claire and I first met in high school. She was a new sophomore and I was searching for a roommate for my senior year, having just decided to switch from a day student to a boarder living on campus. One of our friends suggested that Claire and I live together. I was intrigued by the idea but also a bit hesitant, since I didn't know her very well. So I spent several weeks trying to get to know her. Every morning at breakfast, I would ask her a series of questions: Was she a morning person or a night owl? Clean or messy? What kind of music did she play? What kind of roommate would she be? In the face of this intense and daily interrogation, Claire would just smile, answer the question, and go back to her cereal. She wasn't fazed by the questioning or my weirdness. She was calm and steady, laid-back and understanding.

It was her attitude and personality that sealed the deal for me. If I was going to share a living space with someone, I wanted it to be a person I could get along with and rely on. That person was Claire. So, one ordinary morning, I dramatically asked her if she would be my roommate the next year. To my surprise and after all my questioning, she responded with an emphatic yes. One of our friends said that it almost felt like a proposal and that we should have something to exchange in place of a ring. We jokingly decided that a doorknob would be an appropriate gift for this roommate proposal.

 Photography by Rebekah Barlas

Photography by Rebekah Barlas

When Claire and I finally moved in together at the beginning of the following year, she demonstrated once again how kind, thoughtful, and caring she is by gifting me an actual doorknob. And not just a plastic toy, but the kind of doorknob you buy at a hardware store (it had a ribbon around it and everything). I returned the gesture at the end of our year living together and gave her her very own doorknob, the book end to our time together as roommates.

That year had seen us grow closer together, not just as roommates but as friends. We shared many laughs and tears, few arguments and countless fun times. And our doorknobs, which we have saved over the years as we've moved through college and jobs and international excursions, have represented much more than our roommate proposal. They represent what can happen when you open the door to something new.

You see, when I was looking for a roommate, I considered living with several friends I had known for a long time, some for many many years. I weighed the pros and cons of living with someone I already knew and was familiar with. And I was somewhat apprehensive about living with someone brand new like Claire. My well-meaning attempts to investigate her living style were an attempt to familiarize the unknown. To make me feel sure about living with someone new, someone who wasn't family for the first time in my life. I had seen bad roommate experiences in the past and didn't want to repeat the mistakes of my friends. So I tried to preempt any issues by ironing out all the foreseeable details ahead of time. But at some point, I ran out of questions and reasons. Did I know for certain that we would get along and be good roommates together? No. But I knew enough to take the risk. And so I opened the door to that living arrangement. And in the end, I found not only a roommate but one of my dearest friends to date, and now my partner in this new creative endeavor.

 Photography by Rebekah Barlas

Photography by Rebekah Barlas

When we first started planning for Indicoe, Claire and I once again found ourselves asking each other questions, conducting research, and sending out surveys to see when and how we should launch the site. Eventually, as much as we wanted to weigh all the pros and cons and be completely ready for the next step, we realized we just had to take a leap of faith and move forward. It was the same kind of leap I had to make when asking Claire to live together. Both experiences have taught me that, as much as I might crave certainty and stability, it pays to try something new and unknown. To let go of questions and take a chance instead. It can be difficult, whether it's looking for a roommate or starting a business or working on a new artistic project. But it's necessary if you want to open yourself up to the new opportunities and chances waiting for you in the unknown. 

So as you look forward into 2018, a new year full of potential, I ask that you take chances too. That you open the door to all the new possibilities 2018 has to offer. That you consider working with that artist you admire, start to arrange those original songs, contact that publisher or agent, book that stage, set up an exhibit in that gallery. Buy tickets for that trip you've been meaning to go on, sign up for that class that you want to take. And start work on the passion project that has been rolling around in your mind for forever. Open the door, even if it's just an inch, and see what's waiting on the other side. Even if you fail, at least you would have tried and you would have learned along the way. But you'll never know unless you open the door. You can end up with so much more than you bargained for if you do. I know Claire and I did. And our story--well, it's only just beginning. We have many more doors to open together. And I'm happy to continue doing so side by side.

 Photography by Rebekah Barlas

Photography by Rebekah Barlas