First, I don’t know how you’ll feel about having your name attached to whatever I’m going to write here–don’t worry, I won’t talk about the dead bodies or the copious amounts of drugs–so in this letter, you will be “Roomie.” Second, I know you’re thinking that this is a ridiculously roundabout way to communicate anything to you, seeing as you’re literally sitting two feet away from me as I’m typing these words, but don’t worry: as with most open letters, you’re more the prop than the recipient. (Sorry. I’m a bad roommate. But more on that later.)
I don’t know what it was like for you, Roomie, but even after going through the ordeal of having to choose a school to attend for the next four years, the prospect of picking a year-long roommate from thousands of complete strangers on Facebook was still absolutely terrifying to me. Did you read those 800-word autobiographies people posted on the Facebook page? I know I didn’t. I skimmed them for anything pertinent to me–”viola,” “Community,” or “math major”–and even then, living with someone because we shared a favorite TV show or prospective major seemed as dumb as living with someone because we shared a favorite color. (More dumb, in fact, because if we both loved the color blue, there would at least be no issues coordinating a color scheme for the room. We could hate each other, but at least our room would look fabulous.) I went random because it was too big a decision for me; I wanted to leave it to God. (Or rather, to ResLife.)
And praise ResLife, I got you! You could have been a massive drug user, or a party animal who brings weird guys or girls to the room at all hours of the night, or, I don’t know, Batman, always standing near the window and making dark monologues about how the city needs you while I’m just trying to sleep.
Instead, you and I are similar in extremely important ways: We don’t drink, we don’t party, and we’re both so terrified of conflict that even if there was an issue, it probably wouldn’t come to light until one of us exploded in rage at the very end of the school year. Textbook compatible roommates, right?
At the same time, I don’t know why you haven’t lit me on fire. Most nights, I stay up working on homework–with the light on inside our room–a few hours after you’ve gone to bed. Most days, I wake up earlier than you do, either for class or for work. My obnoxious alarms go off at weird times, I search for clothes or homework or keys buried under the mountains of trash on my side of the room, and I drop my metallic water bottle so often that you’d think it contained gold. I’m cultivating a giant mess, which has spread to the windowsill; it will probably gain sentience any day now and lock us both out. I’m always asking you for printer paper, to the point that I should probably plant 6 forests in your backyard to make up for it. I talk to myself while you’re trying to concentrate and sometimes have to stop midsentence because I’ve started to annoy myself.
By sheer luck, I got paired with someone who doesn’t wake up when I’m loud and doesn’t complain when I’m the worst (hopefully because it doesn’t bother you and not because of the non-confrontational personality cited above). The lesson? Random roommate selection works.
But more importantly, Roomie, you were my first friend here. For someone like me, who isn’t ever quite sure how to talk to people, having an automatic friend–someone who isn’t just awesome to live with but wonderful to talk to–was extremely valuable. I don’t think I could have survived in a single. We went in search of buildings (Gleason Hall is not Gleason Library), and we ate most of our meals together. When the rest of the hall wanted to go to a party (before they knew that asking us was futile), it was nice to have another person who didn’t do that type of thing. Now, we both have our own friend groups and are busier and don’t see each other as often, but who knows what type of shenanigans I might have gotten into earlier this year, or which buildings I might never have found, or which meals I might have skipped?
Our time together is almost up, which is good in a way. Sophomore year is better because we’ll both know our roommates before living with them. We won’t have to cling to our new roommates like a child to a teddy bear, because we’ve grown up and have real people friends now. (Not that you’re not a real person friend; it’s just that you served the role as a teddy bear friend at the beginning, if that analogy can even begin to make half a penny of sense.)
Still, I’ll miss you and your Frozen and Wicked obsessions and your unbelievable coolness. Thank you for not being horrified by the way I live. Thank you for always having your keys when I don’t. Most importantly, thank you for being a wonderful friend, both at the beginning of the year–when you were basically stuck with me–and now. Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But because I knew you, I have been changed for good.