Earlier this week I logged into facebook to see that a young friend of mine had just received her housing assignment for residence for her first year of university this fall. She was distressed at having just learned that she would be sharing a room with someone, as she had high hopes for a single room. Several people (including me) reassured her that things always work out and that this mystery person could end up being her very best friend.
It brought back so many memories of the summer before I left university. It feels like yesterday–I really can’t believe that it’s all behind me now. Accepting a university was traumatic for me at the time (it’s quite a story, remind me to tell you some time… from it I have earned my family nickname “Beef”. haha) and ended with Big Dad driving my acceptance package to the university application center by hand the day it was due, some three hours from where we lived. *bows head in shame*
Once I had made my decision, I began the process of applying for on-campus housing as Ghetto U was over an hour away from my home, much too far to commute. For a small-town white girl from Northern Ontario the application was a bit crazy for me to understand. Did I want to live in a mixed gender house? Did I want to live in an all-Caucasian house? (no joke.) And the dreaded question: Did I want a shared room?
I checked off each box (with an extra-bold “X” on the NO to a shared room) and sent it off to await my fate. At the school I went to you don’t find out about your living situation until you arrive on campus for Frosh Week. All I knew was that I was going to be in apartment style housing and I needed… stuff. Having never lived on my own before I had absolutely no idea what I needed, and my mom loved me enough to guide me through the process whilst letting me make mistakes and learn for myself. We went garage saling every Saturday and I bought what every student needs (or so I thought):
Shoe racks. (Necessity of life. Shoes need to be displayed.)
Egg poaching set.
We packed our vanimal so tight full of my stuff I could barely fit in it with my parents. We drove to my new school, parked the big, blue, beautiful vanimal and wandered off to find out how to register and check-in for residence. I was handed a big manila envelope with a house number and room number on the outside. Inside were two keys, a bunch of university documents and an invitation to a toga party. We walked down a path in toward my new “house” and I opened the front door. It was your typical university apartment, complete with a couch from the 1970s. I knew my room was on the top floor, but I still didn’t know if I’d be on my own or not. I was terrified to open the door… then… MAGIC. It was a tiny shoebox of a room, but it was MINE.
We started unloading the vanimal and it quickly became clear that I had not only doubled, but tripled the amount of crap I was moving into my house compared to the other new kids around me. As I watched one guy walk away with two suitcases from his car–everything he had for his first year of school–and I watched my dad struggle in with my 400lb 1980’s television that only worked when you hit the top of it, it occurred to me… did I bring too much?
Let me tell you, did I ever use that breadmaker that first year! (Once. And the bread looked like an alien.) But at least the coat rack was a hit!
I was the first of my housemates to arrive. Next came G–the two of us shared the top floor in the two single rooms in the house.
Next Harriet* arrived, followed shortly by A, who shared the room in the “basement”. R came next, followed by X who also shared a room. R had a very strong personality with definite opinions and interests. She arrived all in black, with fun thick rimmed black glassed and black dreds. X arrived with two track suits, a pot, bowl and spoon, and a huge laptop computer.
I was convinced that perhaps with the exception of X (who wouldn’t talk to us and it took us a few weeks to even learn how to properly pronounce her name) we would all be best friends, braid each other’s hair, spend all night talking about boys and go out together.
By the end of that first weekend we had all met people who would soon form our friend groups and aside from brief meetings in the kitchen, I really didn’t see my housemates all that much. I woke up, went to class, went to friends’ houses, studied in the school and came home to sleep. I became friends with a house of guys around the corner and met Bo Besso, Bo Bandy and Star and then that was that. Sadly, that photo above is the only photo I have of my roommates, and two of them are missing from it. And yes, that is the famous lady bug costume I first saw the Hubster in. This was one of the only times my housemates and I all went out together, and it was the night before I attended the event where I saw my future husband and I became the Lady bug Girl.
We became housemates that weren’t really housemates. We were friendly enough, but for me it never really went beyond that. I have always wished that I had ended up in a house with people I could have really clicked with, but I had a great experience. Though we weren’t friends, we were friendly, and that was enough.
The only one that we could never figure out was X… I have so many hilarious X stories I could make you laugh until you cry. Have I ever told you about the time she brought home a giant hamster in an ice cream bucket? Or the time we taught her about dish soap? Or how about her revolutionary way of eating pizza?
She was… special.
I think my experience is probably pretty common for people who have been mashed together with strangers. I was just lucky to have friends outside when I needed to escape. After first year I got married, transferred universities and adjusted to a new roommate: The Hubster. :)
I haven’t talked to my housemates in years, though I have always wondered where they all ended up. It’s funny how you can live so close to someone for so long then completely lose track of them.
What was your first experience with roommates like?