THE LOVE DUNGEON

Bidding a fond farewell to my "dream house"

What’s your dream house?

Mine occasionally gets a leak in the ceiling. The floor is continually covered with the hair of a wildly shedding yellow lab. There isn’t any space in the entire house for a dining room table. The sink is most likely the grossest thing ever.

That’s my dream house. It’s located on the bottom of a duplex on the smallest street of Santa Barbara’s overpriced ghetto. Sadly, not even the cost of rent redeems it. It’s stupidly priced.

There’s a difference between my dream house and most other people’s. Other than the severe drop-off in quality, the difference is that I’ve actually gotten to live in my dream house. I’ve spent the past year in what we affectionately call the Love Dungeon, and I’ve been blessed to have spent that time with seven of my best friends.

I’ve grown to learn that real riches in life don’t have a whole lot to do with money. They have to do with people and relationships. And while many people work endlessly in the pursuit of the financial ability to get themselves a large house on the hills, I’m crazily blessed to have found a house full of things with real value.

Eight guys, each extremely strange in their own way, who care about each other a ridiculous amount and have only grown closer together over the course of a year.

And a dog who might be manic-depressive.

One of my least favourite sights is that of a house where people once lived. You can see the prints in the carpet left behind couches that hosted wrestling matches and bookshelves that housed some epic reads. The wires are sticking out which once connected to a TV that went through a different superhero movie every weekend. The walls look strange and white, where there used to be pictures.

The dog isn’t sure what happened to the couch.

I’m in the middle of that scene right now. It’s pretty sad. In the midst of a lot of celebrating, there’s also a lot of hard endings that come with graduation. While I’m more than looking forward to what life has to offer next- a cool place to live over the summer, the opportunity to pursue internships I’ve wanted to do for years that I couldn’t while I was in school, it’s not easy to turn in my do not duplicate key.

I’ll have my favourite memories. I don’t think many of them translate well to a public posting, and most of them require so much context, you just can’t retell them. In a half hearted effort, there will always be that time we drove to Ian’s party screaming about milk the entire time and buying him stupid stuffed animals. There will be the time we paraded around dressed in 1920’s garb not leaving character. There’s that one time I nearly short-circuited the house by plugging a panini press into a strand of Christmas lights.

A house is a gift, a place you can use to serve others.

Whether it was the meeting grounds of a Bridges leaders meeting, the backdrop of my webshow, Ariel and Philippe, or the headquarters of Waffle Connection, my entrepreneurial endeavor, the Love Dungeon has been used extensively.

And it’s impossible to live in a place like this without feeling like you gained something incredible from it.

The biggest gift has certainly been living and growing closer to seven guys who are practically my brothers at this point, if not closer. Each one of them has taught me something huge and significant about life.

Derek was the first guy I lived with here, and over the summer, there was a stretch where he and I were the only ones at the house. Derek’s been one of the coolest guys I’ve had the chance to see grow and mature as a person. We’ve all got our issues, but Derek handles his by being up front and real about them, and that’s the necessary for doing anything about them. He’s taught me what it means to be vulnerable, and once you make yourself vulnerable, you have cultivated yourself for growth. I’m super excited to be taking pictures at his wedding over this summer.

Chris was one of the earliest friends I’ve made at this school and one of the truest ones. He’s the kind of person who really challenges you to think through your actions and to express yourself. He’s been a leader through example and through word, and that might just be the simplest way to put it. He holds true to what he believes and does so gracefully and with respect.

Ariel never allowed life to be boring while I was his roommate. The way he took an interest in my personality from the get go helped provide me with the feeling of value that inspired action. He’s taught me a lot about things as simple as basketball to other things as big as communication and acting upon conviction. After having so many conversations with him, I know what he believes and understand a lot of how he operates. While we approach and understand things very differently sometimes, we’re united by a single Love and faith. And we made a dope webshow.

Mike was one of the most sincere and transparent individuals I’ve known. When we first met, my immediate thoughts were, wow I wonder what it’s gonna be like to live with this guy- we seem to have nothing in common. Then I discovered that he just had a very different sense of humour. Then we decoded each others’ senses of humour and then the rest of ourselves. We’ve learned how to appreciate another person in spite of not understanding.

Chase remains one of the most likeable people I’ve ever met. I’m excited that I’ll be able to continue to live with him over the summer and possibly beyond. Chase is a person who builds strong relationships with his life and it’s been awesome to watch and learn from. I’ve also always been of the opinion that most guys could learn a lot about how to treat women from watching how Chase does it. He emits sincerity.

Bryce was someone I could be absolutely and completely weird with. We could sit down and start spouting off stuff to each other that would seem like complete and utter nonsense to almost anybody else. But to us, it was our love language. Stupidness. By saying I could be completely weird around him, I mean I could be myself around him. And at the drop of a hat, we could transition to a very serious and heartfelt conversation. Both of those things felt tremendously significant.

Matt was one of the last people I knew about before I moved into the house. Bryce simply announced to me that he would be living with us, and I knew of him, but didn’t really know of him. Little did I know that he would be a strong and quiet leader. I’ve learned so much about how to have great conversations through Matt, primarily by listening. I’ve particularly enjoyed our hot tub sessions every week, and the awesome, thought-provoking conversations that emerged about politics, culture, and other stuff turned out to be incredible.

And Bo taught me that just being around is sometimes enough.

It’ll definitely be a transition to move out of this house. It’ll continue to exist in the form of every relationship I make, as the things I’ve learned here will prove invaluable.

I’ll miss living with these seven… and Bo. Best pillow pet ever. But I’m thankful I’ll continue to live with Chase. I’m thankful that we will all remain in town for at least a year, minus Bryce. I’m thankful that we’re all hopeful for reunions. Possibly for our bi-annual Martin Luther King Jr. gift exchange.

Today marks the end of The Love Dungeon. At least as a physical place. And that’s okay, it was time. The physical place kinda sucked, anyways, to be honest.

But the real Love Dungeon- these eight odd guys, that will live on for much longer. I believe these bonds have become eternal.

Philippe Lazaro2012