Alright, so immediate disclaimer here: The above photo is not even close to my first college dorm room. I don’t own a Mac and I don’t make myself responsible for living organisms, such as plants [because they’ll die in my care]. Seriously. One of my coworkers recently gave me a decorative flower arrangement, and my anxiety went into overdrive, “No, no. I can’t accept this. It will die.” He shook his head in disbelief, “Melanie, it’s fake.”
Anyway, I love beautiful feature images. The light and airy feel is just way more appealing than my pink polka dot comforter that brightened up the dark eggshell cinder-block walls.
Going off to college meant that for the first time ever, I’d have to share a living space with another human. The only exception here is that apparently my nursery was located in my sister’s room for the first year or two of my life until Dad finished the basement of our house. Poor, Denise. Please consider this shout out my acknowledgement and apology if my crying-ass ever woke you up in the middle of the night. So, for all intents and purposes, this was the first time I was sharing a room, since my first experience is one that I had literally no awareness or memory of 18 years later.
I met #1 at freshman orientation. We were rooming together for the overnight portion of the orientation and instantly bonded over our love of field hockey and our boyfriends. Hers would be joining us at Christopher Newport University (CNU), while mine was staying in our hometown to work and take classes at the community college.
While packing our things on the last day, I contemplated asking #1 if she wanted to request to room together. Knowing that I had opted for the “random” roommate on my admissions application, I was growing super nervous that the rando would make my life a living hell. For some reason, I was concerned that I’d freak #1 out, so I just told her that I’d see her around. Later that day, I ended up running into her and her family in the bookstore. Seeing it as a sign, the question flew out of my month, “Do you want to room together?” She giddily perked up, “Oh my gosh, I was going to ask you earlier today, but I was too scared.”
So, we submitted our roommate request and spent the summer excitedly texting each other whenever we got something for the room. At some point in time, we both received mail correspondence that another roommate would be joining us.
So apparently I wasn’t necessarily going to be able to avoid the rando roommate after all. I’m convinced that all colleges do this on purpose. There are always those best friends in high school that request to room together, and the school knows better. THIS IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER. DON’T DO IT! Anyway, I think I would have only had to endure one roommate had I just stuck with the random one from the start. But schools are like, “Well, we’re gonna give you another roommate in case the one you selected for yourself doesn’t work out.” Probably smart… what 18 year old actually knows what’s good for them? I apparently didn’t.
At first, #1, #2, and I all got along. We were crammed in this room meant for two, so it was just a slew of desks, wardrobes, and lofted beds. #2 constantly wanted to rearrange the set-up. I kid you not, at one point, there was a wardrobe permanently in the MIDDLE of the room. There was no logic behind it, but we were all really easy-going and laid back about stuff like that. I found myself often biting my tongue about stuff that actually did bother me… like when #1’s boyfriend, who coincidentally lived right across the hall, would bring her breakfast, carry her down from her bunk and literally feed her. EVERY. MORNING.
I wasn’t jealous… I just wanted to be able to sleep in on the days that I didn’t schedule an 8am class (which would be rare in my college career). #2 also had friends come over a lot. I’d often get back from class and find three of her friends sitting on my bed – because it was the only one unlofted and rightfully, the only place anyone could sit. I didn’t really mind people sitting on my bed, but it was the takeout boxes that got me: 1) the dining hall was 20 yards from our dorm’s front entrance… couldn’t they eat there? and 2) why was it always spaghetti or something messy!?!
But truthfully speaking, I am laid back, so I tried to realize that in the grand scheme of things, this wasn’t that bad.
We had a code for anytime someone needed the room to themselves and a guest. If you received a “CODE RED” text that meant that if you were in the room, you needed to go elsewhere and if you weren’t in the room, you best not return until you received a follow up “CODE GREEN” message.
I found this interesting because within days of living together we had all learned that I was the only one that wasn’t a virgin, which was new for me. I was so used to being the virgin of my group of friends in high school. (Go check out my blogs: The Almost Non-Existent Sex Talk: Part I and Part II).
Nonetheless, two of us were in serious relationships and the other would rightfully begin exploring. Our code came in very handy. With the exception of the time I forgot to use it and #2’s friend came bursting in with #2’s key card. I’ll never forget the audible “Mmm” when she saw us. Another two seconds later, the entire hall would hear, “THEY HAVIN’ SEX!” Another five seconds later, my boyfriend would say he “wasn’t in the mood anymore.” *rolls eyes*
There was also that one time #2 forgot to use it. I was stumbling back from my very first fraternity party. Side note: I wore an infamous green sweater from American Eagle because it was freakin’ cold outside, but it took only that one time for me to learn that the weather outside should have no bearing on your “going out” outfit. You will sweat your ass off inside a cramped apartment filled with 50+ people bumping and grinding on each other. Clothes are optional. Literally.
So, I was stumbling and throwing up, in a strangely coordinated way, because I thought I’d be a badass and pregame with
“blackout in a can” Joose before mixing beer and liquor at the party. I mean… come on Melanie. You so much have never had more than a few sips of your dad’s beer while he was grilling and you decide to go full-on party girl for your first night out?
Badass? Nah, try dumbass.
Nonetheless, #2 hadn’t texted anyone CODE RED. #1 often slept in her boyfriend’s room, so I guess #2 might have thought I was gone for the weekend?? So #2 and her guest were in for a big surprise when I was ushered in by the eventual Roommate #3, who recalls this night fondly… from the green sweater to the way I had to desperately clutch every single brick column on the walk down the residence hall to my room. This was my first experience with the spins and I was wondering why the fuck anyone ever gets drunk. This was not fun.
When I threw open the door (picture an infamous Kramer entrance from Seinfeld), I heard scrambling from #2’s top bunk, but didn’t really care what I just interrupted. Once I was settled, I threw up once more in my pink trashcan perched right by my bed. Someone from the bunk whispered, “She’s so drunk. No way she’ll remember.”
I sat up, very slowly to prevent the world from spinning, and said “#2, who is up there with you?” But #2 only quieted me, urging me to go to sleep.
When I woke up in the morning, I sat up and saw #2 was alone in bed. “Who was up there with you last night?” She laughed, “God damnit, Mel! I was hoping you wouldn’t remember!” I laugh now because I’d say she brought it on herself since she didn’t send the code, but no way my drunk ass would have read that or followed the rule.
We all had become decent friends during the fall semester, but because I was traveling back to my hometown so often to spend time with my boyfriend, #1 and #2 definitely developed a closer friendship. In the spring semester, however, our living situation went from civil af to beyond volatile.
I’m sparing most details of #1’s behavior, but she really took “inconsiderate” to a whole new level. It was ongoing. Some things were as small as leaving a to-go box of food on top of her wardrobe for two weeks, causing a stench that was so repulsive. Meanwhile, she had the luxury of sleeping in her boyfriend’s room and avoiding it. But then there were other things that just showed how selfish she really was… like the time she stayed in the dorm for spring break and slept in my bed because she was “too sick” to climb up in her bunk. I wonder where her boyfriend was to carry her up and down from it. Anyway, she didn’t bother to wash my sheets or even let me know, and I ended up deathly ill from unknowingly sleeping with all her germs. Only then did she say, with a giggle I might add, “Oh, oopsies! You probably are sick from when I slept in your bed over break.”
Shit like that, and so much worse, built up over time and everything came to a head late one night. My boyfriend was visiting and ended up leaving at 3am (to make a two hour drive home) due to her behavior and complete disregard for other people’s time and space. Simultaneously #1 had done something to set #2 off that I was unaware of. So when I ran into #2 walking back from seeing my boyfriend off, I explained what had just gone down. After learning what had gone down between #1 and #2, we were damn near ready to get physical with #1 (who was probably 100 lbs soaking wet). We both had to be restrained by the guys across the hall when they heard the verbal brawl escalating REAL. QUICK.
After that altercation, #2 and I literally didn’t speak to #1 for months. By the time we were all scheduled to move out, I left without a single word to #1. I knew she and her boyfriend were transferring to a different school and I’d never see her again. Didn’t care to either.
#2 and I were as close as ever, though. We’d both end up selecting the same major and remain friends all the way to the end of college and beyond. I remember standing with her on graduation day, looking around realizing that somehow, we had made it. More recently, just a few weeks before I launched my blog, I ran into #2 at the mall and nearly lost my mind screaming and almost tackling her to the ground. I happened to be on a first date – maybe all of 2 minutes in when #2 ran up to me causing my freak out – so I know he was like:
This wasn’t the first time I saw her by chance. A few years back she showed up at the same bar I was drunk at in Richmond, VA (neither of us live there)… I started drunk-girl crying about how much I missed her and telling the entire bar that she was my favorite roommate ever. What can I say, I just love the girl, okay?
As for #1… she contacted me during our junior year of college (she was at a different university at this point) and sincerely apologized for all of her actions that semester. I accepted her apologies. She and her boyfriend ended up getting married, which on one hand surprised me because I think even he saw the very worst of her during that spring semester. True love does exist, I suppose, and I’m very happy for them.
Lessons learned from living with #1 and #2?
- Codes for sexy-time work, but only if you use them.
- Sweating the small stuff will eat away at you if you don’t communicate that something bothers you. It will build and build until you’re about to rip a bitch down by her hair from the top bunk. But seriously, communicate and be willing to listen to the other person’s side of the story as well. “What you did bothered me and here’s why…” and “Could you not do X in the future?” are really simple statements. I truly believe that most people do not set out with the intent to be disrespectful or inconsiderate, so when they are… they need to be called on their bullshit and made aware it. Silence will only allow them to continue to think their selfish behavior is okay.
- Most importantly, I look back now and think how insane it is that the roommate I chose for myself is someone that I don’t have any real contact with anymore and didn’t really like as a person once I got to know her. Meanwhile, the rando that I never wanted is one of my dearest friends who brings me to tears of joy every time I see her.
Life certainly has a funny way of working out. If I learned anything from #1 and #2, it’s that the universe sometimes has better plans for you than you have for yourself.