Being in Sycamore House

I am not really sure how to put into words what my community at Sycamore House really means to me. When I applied to the Episcopal Service Corps, I knew that I would live in an intentional community and spend a year of service, but I had no idea that this community would come to mean to me as much as they do in as short a period of time as it has been. It has been three months since I moved to Harrisburg. I have known my housemates for only three months (with the exception of Bea who went to college with me), but we are already such a tight knit group, and have been since our first month in Harrisburg.

I live with six beautiful and passionate women in a quirky house overlooking the Susquehanna River. I wake up at 6:55 every morning and go into the kitchen to make my coffee, already knowing that Bea is out there reading a book and having her breakfast. I sit with her and look over my emails and drink my coffee and soon Emily and Olivia emerge up the stairs. There’s something to be said about being able to start your day with your community. It makes having to speed walk or run to catch the bus in the cold a little better. I am not a morning person; I am a night owl, but since moving to Harrisburg and into Sycamore House, I am only grumpy for the 10 minutes it takes me to wake up and get dressed before stepping into the kitchen where I know there’ll be coffee and people that I love.

If you haven’t met us yet, we are a house of seven. There’s Bea, whose beautiful voice can be heard throughout the house as she sings and who enjoys walking into rooms, picking me up, and moving me to a different part of the room for no reason what so ever; Kaitie, who overflows with her compassion for humanity and hope for a better world but also with much appreciated sass for me; Claire, whose wit and puns have us laughing often; Olivia, whose favorite mug says Number 1 Grandma and who went all the way to New York to see the Pope, but not without a stuffed cow named Sycamooore just so that she could send us photos of it with witty cow puns all day; Christa, who loves pranks and left the upper body of our mannequin in my bed (coincidentally the same day that Bea left fake poo on my chair); and Emily, who inspires me to one day look as good as she does when I leave for work in the morning. And then there’s me of course, Sri Lankan in Harrisburg, struggling to learn how to cook for myself, so much so that my brother has taken to teaching me to cook a new meal every Sunday over Skype.

We are a community that rallies around to support each other, whether it is to give Christa the pep talk she needs before she goes to have her hair cut, or to provide a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, or a comforting hug to someone who is having a bad day or bad week. We are a community that loves to sit around the dining room table and watch funny YouTube videos, or sit in the living room and talk about our day and discuss our highs and lows of the week. We are a community that frequently quotes Parks and Rec, and whose conversations often reference Manny our mannequin or Velvet Elvis, the picture hanging in our living room. We are a community that loves music, back massages, books, and food. A community that is passionate about making ourselves and those around us aware of social justice issues so relevant to our community. We are a community that is committed to serving, whether it be handing out surveys in neighborhoods for Camp Curtin Community Neighbors United, helping out at the Great Pumpkin Chase, cooking our Sunday community dinners, or acting as ambassadors for Project Homeless Connect by pairing ourselves up with someone who is homeless or near homeless and helping them receive a variety of services such as medical attention, dental attention, haircuts, flu shots etc. We are a community that is appreciative of the opportunities we have had to attend conferences on social justice issues, go on retreats, have meals and conversations with our mentors, and attend a church that has welcomed us with open arms. We are a community that is thankful for the love and generosity that has been extend towards us and are hopeful that we may be able to repay it through the service we in turn extend to the Harrisburg community.

So here’s to an exciting year in a quirky house with a beautiful community.

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