“I’ll Have What They’re Having”

Photo: (Left) Judah Leblang as a BHFH Housie in the 1990s. (Right) Judah Leblang as a BHFH Resident now! 
For those of us of a certain (middle to senior) age, Meg Ryan’s classic faked-orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally made an indelible impression, along with the older woman’s comment just after:“I’ll have what she’s having.”

Today, at 65, I look around at my twenty- and thirty-something housemates and bounce between annoyance (when they’re bubbling over with deep conversations at the breakfast table and I just want to chew my bagel in peace) and awe (when I see them bounce between activities, seemingly accomplishing more in a day than I do in a typical week).
Last year, I took the somewhat radical step of moving from my condo in the Boston suburbs to Beacon Hill Friends House. Most of my housemates are in their 20s and early 30s; I’m older than some of their parents.

I have actually lived at Beacon Hill Friends House before — back in the ’90s with a completely different cast of characters. At that time, residency was limited to two years; now residents can stay here for four. I was eligible to come back, to have a second chance to live in a five-story brownstone right in the heart of the city. Living at the House and being in community would ease my isolation, or so I hoped.

Now, halfway into my stay (one year out of two has elapsed at warp speed), I’m somewhat in awe of the relative youngsters I live with. This is a self-selected group; in order to live here they have to get personal and work-related references, write an essay about their spiritual lives, and profess an interest in communal living. Still, their energy and enthusiasm for whatever they’re doing — planning a party, learning a new recipe for banana bread, or finding a way to reduce our carbon footprint — gives me some hope for the future, a cautious optimism to balance out my natural pessimism.

Over time, my idealism and energy have faded, but I still hope to leave the world a bit better on my way out, to leave a legacy of something beyond just taking up space on our crowded planet. Being in a multi-generational community, and hanging out with young folks, is giving me a road map, some potential ways to show up and give back before it’s too late.

In addition to this message, I’m writing to share some ways that you can engage with Beacon Hill Friends House — through public events, including one that I am leading! 

In having what they’re having, 
Judah, BHFH Resident
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