Six days after I met Octo for the first time, I invited him to move in with me.
On paper, inviting a stranger to live with you is a dubious and potentially dangerous idea. In practice, it’s tremendously exciting, lots of fun, and a rare chance to learn about yourself in an accelerated, yet low-stakes environment. It also makes for a good story, particularly if you’re both fresh off somewhat hackjobbed international moves, receptive to indulging in mood enhancers, and navigating the first few weeks of fancy new jobs.
Speaking for myself, moving in with Octo was weird and silly and special. Acting on our whims facilitated a slurry of lovely experiences: late-night cannolis and conversation, easy jogs along the Embarcadero, collaborative domesticity, reflections on power and how to wield more of it, one or two mutual confessions, a revival of my affinity toward clout goggles and mint it-it’s, and spirited conversation centered around acceptable uses cases for whole wheat tortillas (bad for burritos, good for wraps), the only two types of people in this world (cult leaders and cult followers), and how we plan to make the most of our limited, precious time on this earth.
Our hastened physical proximity enabled us to skip all the nervousness that surrounds the first year of dating (i.e. questions like “Does he like my hair better up or down?” “Where should I take her for dinner?”) and beeline directly to the stage where it becomes acceptable to express less-than-stellar opinions around each other, and mandatory to decide upon a regularly scheduled laundry day. This rapid progression in comfort level, like many other parts of getting to know Octo, amused me greatly. One night over dinner, we observed a couple seated nearby who were clearly early on in their relationship: animated nodding, full-face makeup, gratuitous effusions about how good the okay food was. In contrast, we seemed much more relaxed around one another -- not quite an old married couple, but perhaps a two-years-in couple who had spent at least one Christmas together.
At the end of one month of living together, Octo and I came to the conclusion that we are probably not going to continue dating. We mutually forecast the chances of us pursuing a relationship around 10%, which I find low enough to be negligible, in no small part because I require that my partners be obsessed with me. Like many ill-fated meets, we are simply in different stages of life and want different things. Namely, Octo is open to long-term, committed relationships with the potential to lead to an altar, while I am less certain that the monogamous flavor of connection most appeals to me at this particular moment. We are both too stubborn to cede and too kind to compel the other to consider it. In light of this unfortunate mismatch, I am doing the next best thing: assuming the role of wingwoman and singing the praises of his most shining traits online.
The blog that follows is partly a date-me-doc for Octo and partly a retrospective journal covering a significant swath of my first month in San Francisco, but mostly just an expression of my gratitude for knowing Octo, and for getting the chance to do so in such an intimate environment.
On one of our trips to the grocery store, Octo and I described each other in three words. For me, he chose: Happy, Particular, and Curious. For him, in between scrutinizing the nutrition facts on yogurt tubs and feeling a little guilty about purchasing eggs, I chose: Loving, Playful, Striving. I think these adjectives are a good place to start painting the picture of how I experienced Octo.
Octo’s definition of love is the force that wants the best for another person, and I think he tries very hard to be this force. In the time I spent with him, his loving nature was most clearly expressed in the way he talks about his family and friends: with gratitude, pride, and gentle prodding toward their complete self-actualization.
Early on in our friendship, Octo expressed that he cared about me, and it felt like he really meant it. I didn’t take it to mean that he was prepared to make big sacrifices for me or go out of his way to ensure specific desires of mine were met, just that he was invested in my overall well-being.
Whenever I would offhandedly relay small bits of good news in my life like finding my missing sock or having a conversation that I left feeling smarter, he’d respond enthusiastically, “That’s great. That’s so good.” At first, unpracticed in fielding earnestness, I thought he was being lightly sarcastic. Later, I realized he just actually meant it.
Other things I perceive that Octo cares about: his own well-being (physical, mental, social, financial, and so on), consuming and creating great art, beauty, ancestry, fostering connection, The Human Experience, and where to find the best croissants in SF.
TL;DR: Octo cares about the people around him. He’s quick to love and quick to express it.
Like all the most fun people, Octo knows that he is truly and totally in control of his life. And not only is he is the captain of his own ship, he is also having fun sailing it.
A large part of Octo’s self-conception is his experimental, lighthearted approach to life. Despite his relative youth, he’s already been through several of the quintessential experiences that tend to transpire in the lives of people with ties to tech and spirituality: quitting a well-regarded but unfulfilling job, backpacking through lesser-known countries, overcoming a personal tragedy that ignites a significant attitudinal shift, picking up a new-age wellness hobby such as journaling or meditation, and habitually using B2B SaaS as the punchline to jokes.
Octo has done a lot of things, some of which initially seemed illogical or improbable, and his continual success (or at least, avoidance of absolute failure) has given him the confidence to try even more things. Aware the worst case is still a survivable one, he’s emboldened to be a little wacky with the contents of his life, and a little less risk-averse than the average person. This is where the playfulness comes in.
Octo is drawn to chasing aliveness. He has wide-ranging interests (powerlifting, poetry, event hosting), and his general competency and willingness to go hard mean he’s decent at most of them. Before landing his current job through traditional avenues, his strategy for moving to SF from Australia was visiting on tourist visas and schmoozing tech bros at parties in hopes that one of them would offer him a visa-granting job, which I find to be admirably optimistic, if not befuddlingly nonsensical.
One time, Octo and I were walking home when we ran into someone he knew from work. Jokingly, he introduced me by saying “This is my wife.” When the joke didn’t land, Octo didn’t walk it back, and neither did I. Instead, I put on a big smile, shook the guy’s hand, and played along. Somewhere out there, a random Indian man definitely thinks Octo is married, and specifically, married to me. I find this entertaining.
Encouraging this sort of mild play underscores Octo’s approach to being. He’s often fiddling with new lifestyles and identities. He’s not afraid of pivots or confrontations or awkward explanations. He’s playing games, and the world is a big arcade.
Octo is trying to build, both in the professional, founder-esque way and in the personal, constructing-my-dream-life way. The definition of “striving” is “making great efforts to achieve or obtain something”. Octo thinks often and deeply about what that “something” is, and how he plans to plot his way there.
To this end, he has several typical “leader” interests. For one, he journals every single day and has for years, contributing to a strong understanding of the events that have shaped who he is. When we first met, he was actively crafting his vision for his dream life. It’s been two months since then, and he just texted me that he’s sitting in a cafe, “manifesting the dream life” so clearly it’s a recurring subject.
Octo approaches age with reverence and speaks anticipatorily about growing old, which he associates with being wiser and more realized. A forward-looking, self-confident person, I interpret him as someone on the path to something greater. In other words, it’s clear he hasn’t peaked yet. He has big goals and enough strategy and discipline to make an honest pass at them. A significant portion of his thought space is occupied by the pursuit of these goals, and the hastening of his journey there.
Of the traits that Octo and I have in common, I think the most important is that we both genuinely love being alive. In the limited amount of time we spent together, our shared stamina for novelty made it possible to squeeze in a lot. Here are some of the things I noticed about Octo and the moments that helped to reveal them.
He’s a star conversationalist
The first thing that most people mention about Octo is that he’s really fucking good at talking. For starters, his job involves interviewing smart people for like, six hours a day, and he actually likes it, which is a testament to his superb aptitude for conversation.
Oftentimes, I’m a little nervous about introducing the person I’m seeing to my friends, preparing for that hesitancy-filled awkwardness that makes me think twice about leaving the table to go use the restroom. However, with Octo, it was the exact opposite; I was actually excited for him to meet the people in my life, completely assured that the girlies would find him charming.
When discussing Octo’s axis of power (the area of life where he’s most poised to succeed), our mutual friend Sid said something to the effect of “I think Octo could basically convince anyone of anything.” I have to corroborate.
Octo’s a very effective talker, in no small part because he’s a very thoughtful listener. He remembers what you said three weeks ago and surprises you with a well-timed joke. He asks follow-up questions that you actually want to answer. He pushes you one step beyond where you thought you’d go, but pulls back before it begins to grate. He maintains eye contact that, while not as good as mine, is still above average (I’m training him).
In our final week living together, I took Octo to my office as a guest, where he proceeded to settle into easy banter with colleagues of mine who, despite working in the same space for two months, I still haven’t worked up the courage to talk to. This would be annoying if it wasn’t so endearing.
One of Octo’s quirky main character traits is that he routinely strikes up conversation with strangers in the elevator -- an enclosed space where people notoriously do not want to be approached -- and has them smiling before the doors slide open. I saw it happen on multiple occasions, and each time I was initially embarrassed to watch him break the unspoken rule of letting people exist in impenetrable private bubbles, then duly impressed that he managed to make it so pleasant for all parties involved.
He’s fascinated by his own personal narrative
Octo loves himself, even if he doesn’t always like himself. He told me that even as a child, he was already aware that the subject matter that most interests him is himself.
I like to rib Octo for his most pretentious interlocutory habit, which is saying “Look,” then launching into a story he’s clearly rehearsed before. The more time you spend with Octo, the more you’ll realize how robustly constructed his personal narrative is. Some classic tales include: his “I used to be a fat kid” spiel, which is delivered as a straightforward, yet magnanimously vulnerable admittance; his near-death experience in a mountain range in Greece, which lends him spiritual credence and adventure points; his favorite burger in SF, which was once endorsed by Anthony Bourdain, signaling both his appreciation of the simple and his tendency toward the irreverent; his ongoing “project for perfection,” a sign of his capacity for reckless optimism, or, framed less kindly, a direct reflection of his big ol’ ego.
Octo has particular ideas about how he wants his hero’s journey to crest, and you’re likely to be welcomed into his life only if you’re conducive to the overall vision. This makes him sound selfish, but he’s not -- just highly intentional. I feel obligated to caveat that he views this aspect of himself more as a character flaw than an accolade, and is working on taking it down a notch.
At the prompting of the card game “We’re Not Really Strangers,” Octo and I each gave the other a challenge to take on for the month. For him, I suggested that he write down his ideal morning routine and follow it, which he did, transcribing it onto a sheet of lined paper and taping it to our bathroom wall. For me, he suggested that I stop doing what he dubbed “Britney is bad” talk, in which I harp on my smallness, irresolution, and inescapable defects, and minimize everything good I’ve ever done. This was a kind suggestion, and one that I might not have felt “allowed” to do without his encouragement. It’s a work in progress, as evidenced by two sentences ago, but even recognizing this pattern has been helpful for me.
Octo also trained me in the gym a few times, where I completed my first successful barbell squats of adulthood and learned that I can leg press more than you’d think upon first glancing at me. I’m pretty shy when it comes to exercise, but Octo was patient and helpful throughout, even at the cost of his own workout. It is thanks to him that I can now adjust machines with only a faint paranoia that everyone is watching me with pity as I fumble with the pin. He also taught me what a lat is. Yay!
Octo and I have had exactly one fight, which was prompted by him eating my food without asking. I brought it way later than I should have, AKA when it had already evolved past a minor inconvenience into a Thing, meaning I opened with choice language like “entitled” and “oblivious” and “unreasonable,” all tinged with a feminine hysteria that’s usually poorly received. Fortunately, Octo’s response was very calm, almost frustratingly so, because I always feel like a bit of a drama queen when my voice is fully shaking and the other person is just standing there like this emoji: 🧍. For some people, having their energy met serves as validation that their feelings really are that important and really should be met with that level of intensity. Octo does not deliver here, nor do I think he necessarily needs to. Instead, he is mostly unaffected.
Near the beginning of our friendship, Octo shared that he refuses to let a single event transform the entirety of his relationship with someone. For example, he doesn’t understand why you would cut off a friendship after a single argument, or ice someone out without giving them a fair chance to explain. He believes strongly that almost any situation can be solved by simply talking it out, as long as both parties are open to forgiveness. This unshakable assuredness is why his default reaction to conflict is repose.
On the whole, I still vastly prefer calm over angry, so we reached a clean resolution in the span of an evening. Here’s the breakdown: He apologized, I laid on the floor for two hours feeling difficult and petulant, he told me I should stop doing that, I did, we talked some more, he thanked me for bringing it up, he stopped eating my food, we let it go, hallelujah.
Octo is ridiculously confident. Most of it is founded. Some of it is questionable.
In my opinion, Octo makes a lot of big claims that while not technically untrue, are certainly exaggerations of the truth. For example, he once asked me “Have you ever been sailing?” to which I answered “no” because I have never been the person operating the sails on a boat. When I asked him the same question in return, he responded “yes,” despite also never having been the person operating the sails on a boat. It turns out that the question he was answering was “Have you ever been on a boat?” which is objectively just a radically different activity. When I called him on this distinction, he walked back a bit, but with zero remorse. In instances such as this, I took a slightly sinister amount of joy in calling his bluff, and he had the courtesy to moderate his showiness in response.
Generally, though, I liked being in the company of such an unabashed person because it gave me the room to enjoy things with more abandon. For example, despite being horrible singers (sorry, Octo, if you’re finding out this way), we were both singing near constantly in the apartment. We would also dance quite badly (sorry again, Octo, to let you know through this medium). This was a big departure from my previous living situations, where a top priority of mine was trying to avoid embarrassing myself in the public line of sight. Additionally, Octo’s not afraid of femininity, so he’s a great activity partner for things that men stereotypically shy away from like talking about feelings, appreciating art, and debating clothing purchases. That being said, he’s still moderately bought into masculine gender roles. For instance, he was willing to get a manicure with me, but not willing to get an actual color instead of clear top coat.
He’s classically romantic
Octo is a prolific flirt, though not always a successful one, in part because he never lets an easy set-up pass. This leads to the occasional overplayed, predictable line, though I’ll concede that the sincerity of his attempt is laudable. At other times, his quips land embarrassingly well and I have to pretend that I don’t secretly find them amusing. He definitely approaches flirting as a game, which basically means you’re in a 24/7 friendly scrimmage.
Beyond banter, he’s also romantic with his actions. I go to the office at 7 AM because, try as I might to reject it, I have a natural tendency toward the grindset. Octo, in his kindness and similar bias toward action, would also wake up early, then gift 40 minutes of his time to drop me off at the office. I don’t think was an outsized lift (at least I hope not), but even so, it meant a lot to me. I was moved by the implication that 20 minutes of talking to me was worth the 20 minutes it took to walk back home.
Along these lines, Octo is happy to do gentleman-ly, noble things if you want him to: walk on the side of the road closest to the cars, give you his jacket, compliment your appearance when you least expect it, carry your bags, brush a stray lock of hair behind your ear, hatch a convoluted revenge plot against your enemies. Just ask!
Once, while making our way to MUNI after watching a play together, I noted that the streetlamps lining Post Street are impressively decorative for public architecture. He said something like “Truly, these streetlights were designed to be kissed under,” then instigated as much.
A less corny instance: I was in the middle of reading one of my poems aloud when I stopped halfway through, suddenly aware of how shit it was. I expressed that I didn’t want to keep going because I was afraid he’d think less of me after hearing my cringe poem, to which he responded, “Even if I did think it was bad, it wouldn’t lessen my opinion of you because I know you as Britney, a complete and multi-faceted person, not merely Britney, the writer.”
Octo is full of fun little lines that are punchy and resonant and saturated with meaning, and he knows when he’s delivering one of them too. Here’s one from a letter he wrote me before leaving for the airport that hurt just the right amount: “You are strong in ways you do not yet know.”
Dating him made me feel pretty and interesting and worth paying attention to, like a secretly beautiful ingenue in a YA novel, or more accurately, a regular girl who tweets out a banger every once in a while.
I’ll conclude with demographic information that I probably should have led with: He's 6'0", Australian by nationality, and half Chinese-Malaysian and half South African by ethnicity. Here's a picture of him:
I also want to add that he’s good with his hands -- and however you choose to interpret that, you’re correct.
On the whole, I endorse inviting Octo to live with you. Lucky for everyone, he’s looking for roommates and romantic partners in San Francisco. I imagine that a best-case scenario would involve meeting someone with the potential to become both. He is open to living with just about anyone, and is specifically interested in dating women ages 22-28.
If you would like to reach out to Octo, send him a message on Twitter. If something ends up blooming, all I ask for is an invite to the housewarming, or to the wedding. Happy connecting <3