Then in April 2020, when each D.C.-area ladies discovered themselves separated from their husbands and feeling extra exhausted and lonelier than ever, they had been each in search of a assist system. That’s when they made a life-changing resolution to purchase a house collectively and transfer in with their youngsters.
At the time, Harper felt like she’d hit all-time low. She had suffered a string of unlucky occasions — together with a divorce, a most cancers scare and the devastating lack of two family members.
Up till then, she had at all times adopted a conventional path. She bought married at age 24 to a man within the army and they had a daughter collectively, who’s now 9 years outdated.
“We had the perfect picket fence life,” she mentioned.
Still, “since I was a kid, I always felt that the traditional path didn’t fit right with me. It didn’t make sense,” Harper continued. “But I was so scared to break any rules.”
After her marriage ended and several other losses adopted, she made a tough and daring resolution to “burn the rule book of life.”
Her good buddy, Hopper, was in a comparable boat. She and her then-husband separated inside the similar 12 months, and “I just sort of woke up one day and said, ‘How did I get here?’ ” defined Hopper, an in-house lawyer at a nonprofit.
She and Harper would usually open up to one another about their shared struggles.
“We both found ourselves living in apartments separately and trying to navigate this new life, and it could be very overwhelming,” mentioned Hopper, who has two kids, ages 13 and 9.
Plus, the pandemic had simply hit, and it was “a good time to contemplate what is the meaning of life and who do you want to spend it with?” she added.
One night, whereas the friends had been on a Zoom name, their working joke about beginning a commune collectively resurfaced, although the dialog rapidly turned from foolish to critical.
Given the more and more unaffordable housing market and their mutual want for extra assist, the ladies determined that proudly owning a dwelling collectively might truly make sense. They haphazardly hatched a plan.
“What do I have to lose?” Harper remembered pondering to herself in that second. Her conclusion: “Nothing.”
“The only reason I hesitated is because I was told women shouldn’t do this; people shouldn’t do this,” she continued. And but, “I had done everything the culture tells me and do and I’m alone and struggling.”
Hopper had comparable ideas: “I never considered this as an option,” she mentioned. “But it just feels so normal and natural.”
That similar night time, the ladies began scouring on-line for homes within the D.C. space and they additionally discovered a actual property agent. They made a proposal in April 2020 on a tea-green four-unit dwelling in Takoma Park, Md.
“We walked in, and we were like, ‘This is it,’ ” Hopper mentioned of the house.
They closed on the house in June 2020, and the ladies and their kids moved in through the summer season. After the acquisition was finalized, they sought renters for the remaining two items within the house. Promptly after they posted on a native bulletin, Leandra Nichola contacted them.
“I’m also a single mom,” Nichola advised the ladies, explaining that she hoped to “find stability for my family.”
She had lived in Takoma Park for 15 years and adored the world, however she couldn’t afford to purchase her personal place. Nichola had been separated from her husband for 5 years, and he or she and her two kids — ages 9 and 12 — had lived in 5 totally different properties since then.
Nichola met with Harper and Hopper to find out whether or not the dwelling scenario would work, and they rapidly bonded. Although they had been totally different in some ways, “our values were aligned,” Nichola mentioned.
“It was just a kind of immediate connection,” Hopper mentioned.
So, Nichola and her two kids moved into the basement unit in August, and a few months later, Jen Jacobs — who Hopper and Harper had been beforehand friends with — began renting the highest ground unit.
As a single and childless particular person on the onset of the pandemic, Jacobs was experiencing a sharp sense of loneliness.
Hopper and Harper advised she take the final remaining unit, and Jacobs thought to herself, “Why not try something different?”
“It was really just a chance to be connected to people,” mentioned Jacobs, a CrossFit coach who additionally runs a dog-walking and pet-sitting enterprise.
“If you can find the right people and the right place, it’s super helpful to have that live-in community,” Jacobs mentioned. “You know someone is always around to help with kids, with animals, with whatever.”
Once all 4 items of the house had been occupied, the ladies — all of whom share custody of their kids with their former spouses — quickly established a shut dynamic, and Jacobs and Nichola even developed a romantic relationship within the course of.
“It was a very good surprise,” Jacobs mentioned.
“No part of my life is untouched by this experience, and it’s all for the better,” Nichola mentioned.
Although the ladies, who vary in age from 40 to 46, reside in 4 separate items with particular person kitchens and dwelling quarters, “we intentionally spend a lot of time together,” Harper mentioned, including that after a quick trial interval, Nichola and Jacobs started contributing to the down fee in order that they, too, may very well be householders.
The ladies check with their dwelling because the “Siren House,” named after the legendary creatures, that are half-bird and half-woman. They see the sirens as a image of feminist empowerment.
As a group, the 4 ladies schedule common film nights, potluck dinners, events and informal hangouts. They additionally have a good time holidays, birthdays and different momentous events collectively.
“We’re definitely like sisters, and the kids are more like our nieces and nephews,” Harper mentioned. “We’re not dependent in an unhealthy way. We’re interdependent.”
“We all have this awareness of each other’s humanity, and a genuine desire to care for one another,” Hopper mentioned. “We’re not romanticizing it. It’s real and true and deep and doable.”
“It was just very clear from the start that our number one job is to support each other,” Nichola added. “You have that unconditional love and support that is like family. It’s a dream.”
Living within the Siren House has opened a number of doorways for Nichola, together with the chance to satisfy a long-held skilled pursuit of opening a cafe. Together, the ladies in March 2021 co-founded Main Street Pearl, which Nichola manages.
“It never would have been possible without them,” she mentioned.
For all 4 ladies, the expertise of dwelling collectively has inspired them to reimagine the lives they needed for themselves. Their collective scenario proves there may be multiple technique to type a household and a basis.
“We say, ‘It takes a village,’ but who is out there making villages?” Harper questioned. “That’s what we’re doing.”
To others who joke amongst friends about shifting in collectively to lighten the load of life, Harper has one piece of recommendation: “Go do it,” she mentioned. “It’s awesome.”