They’ll always be my roommates

Since I’m on the topic of friendships, I decided it was fitting to write about roommates. The people who know your bad habits, your messiness and cleanliness levels, your morning and nighttime routines, your quirks, your breaking points.

First two years of college were spent in the dorms. Days I miss at times. Days that seem like a million years ago. Days that were filled with loud laughs and doors slamming. Days that were spent in lounge pants and tees eating unhealthy food from cans and bags. Days when we worried about assignments, boys, and roommates.

Roommates were a hot issue. A point of discussion – especially in the fall and spring – the times when roommates were being evaluated – whether they realized it or not. Those times during the year were spent wondering who to room with the next year, who not to room with the next year, what dorms to room in, what apartments to search before all the “good” ones were taken.

Junior year was monumental.

Sophomore year ended with a mad dash to apartment shop. I had been approached by a friend, a girl who lived two halls down, while studying for a final. She came to my room. Sat on the futon. And had a serious look on her face. She asked what I thought about rooming with her and three other girls (two of the girls I knew). I agreed that it sounded great. I was unsure of my plans for that coming fall and it was stressing me out – not something I needed while trying to ace a final. So with my “yes,” we pushed on.

The next few weeks were devoted to finding the perfect apartment. A reasonably priced, but non-dumpy location that we could all agree on. The “dream” apartment building was not leasing at the time. Big huge bummer. But our second option was the perfect apartment. An end unit. Third floor. The ceilings were high. The kitchen was large (compared to the other units in the building and even the townhomes we searched). The rooms were decent and the closets were plenty. Best part – there was a washer/dryer in the apartment – no need for quarters or awkward “i left my underwear in the dryer and then this guy asked if they were mine when he went to put his laundry in…” stories.

We signed the lease. We felt so old. We were proud of ourselves.

In July, we started moving in some of our stuff. All of us lived (our parents’ homes) close enough to the apartment that we could take time whenever we had it, to drop off a load or two of furniture and other items to the apartment. All summer long we exchanged phone calls, e-mails, MSN messages, and facebook messages about couches, dishes, pizza cutters, coffee makers, color schemes, fans, bathroom rugs, vacuums, TV’s, DVD collections. You name it – we discussed it.

Move in day – the first day we officially moved in, all of us at the same time, was exciting and frightening. We had our our own place. There were no dorm rules. No RAs or RDs to mediate fights or enforce cleaning days. It was just us. All of us together.

Our first night was exciting. We talked about how cool it was to be there. How much fun we were going to have that year. All of us were unaware of the bends in the road that year – the hardships that would follow. But we hoped for the laughs and the silliness. And boy, did our wishes come true.

That was the year:

– when we “ewww’d” every time we opened a new cupboard or closet the first week or so, over the less than satisfactory cleaning job the last tenants had accomplished before moving onward.

– when we took “first day of school” pictures before all driving off to school in separate vehicles (because of our schedules).

– when we set out a candy dish and decided that was not a good idea since it was empty by eight pm every night and filled at eight am every morning.

– when we went to the apple orchard.

– when we took naps on the couch.

– when we purchased a large, sheet-cake DQ ice cream cake because the DQ was closing for the winter and made the girl at the counter write “Merry Christmas” with the yummy gel stuff. each of us ate a piece and cut the cake into large sections, put them in Glad containers, and kept them in the freezer for treats at a later time. one morning i caught my roommate eating DQ cake for breakfast!

– when we thought we smelled cigarette smoke pouring into our bedroom (I shared a room with one other girl) and our bathroom. we spent weeks trying to decide where the smell was coming from – how the duct work worked in our apartment and who we had noticed smoking out front. then we confronted our neighbors right next to us (we only had neighbors on one side due to our location). there we stood, my roommate and I, pajama clad (sweatpants and tees) on a Friday night at nine pm talking to our startled neighbor (around age 30). our conversation went like this:

us: “Knock-knock. hi. we live right next door and we were wondering…”

him: “yeah…”

us: “well, do you smoke?”

him: “smoke what?”

us: “ummmmm….cigarettes?”

that conversation became the center piece for many conversations and quotable inside joke moments.

– when we laid in our twin beds one night during a thunderstorm/potential to be a tornado storm and asked each other “where do we go if the sirens go off? do we jump out the window?”

– when we thought we heard people walking on the roof.

– when we killed flies and wasps stuck between our screen door and sliding glass door on a regular basis.

– when took “Christmas” card-like pictures in our apartment by the tree and mantle.

– when we we stayed up late exchanging Christmas presents, watching movies, playing Balderdash, and eating popcorn.

– when we held our breaths one night watching the MN winter dump a substantial amount of snow on our city – hoping that school would be canceled the next day. we threw off our homework duties – confident there would be no school. we made hot coco, popped popcorn, and watched movies. we opened the screen door to the deck/balcony and looked up at the falling snow – letting the wind drive it into our apartment (school was canceled the next day!).

– when we ordered pizzas and hoped the delivery guy would be cute…he never was…

– when millions of other moments took place. some as a large group. some as a one-on-one or mini-gathering of giggles.

Roommates. I saw them. I ate dinner with them. Last night. We laughed so hard we drew attention. Nothing new. We talked. About the current happenings in our worlds. They gave me some advice – not harsh or malicious – but sort of humorous and dead on with my personality. They were honest and loving – qualities one should seek out in a roommate situation.

Oh, and of course, we talked about that year. That glorious year where we lived together – almost strangers, semi-friends from courses. We brought up “remember when” scenarios. And laughed about them – all of them. Stories were re-told. And I sat there, eating my very filling meal. And I thought about the girls I was with. Two of whom are married now. I thought of the changes we’ve undergone. The periods of growth we’ve struggled through. The exact moments and situations that shaped that year and eventually our whole lives. I felt like we’d never been apart – though it’s been years since all of us were together.

To this day. We have a present. Not as often as I wish, but life does take some bends and curves.

We have a future.

But most of all. We have that year. That junior year.

There’s no other way of saying it.

They’ll always be my junior year roommates.


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