Freshman year I lived off-campus with family. Near the end of the Spring semester, I was really wanting to live on-campus for sophomore year and had mentioned to a few friends as much.
One day, a friend came up to me bounding and said, “You still thinking about living in a dorm??” I confirmed this and added, “But I don’t know what to do, I don’t know anyone looking for a roommate.” I was painfully anxiety-ridden over it all. Then my friend grinned and said, “I think I might have found you a roommate.”
Cut to a day or two later in chapel when I turned around to see my friend with another person walking up to me afterward. “Anna-Marie, this is Alex; she’s looking for a roommate.” This Alex she had with her was wearing a shirt with Van Gogh’s A Starry Night printed on it and her laptop decal was from Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam and I just knew that this person was going to be my friend.
It came together pretty fast; after I met Alex, we ate together a few times, I met our suitemates (Hannah and Rachel), I paid the fees, and then suddenly we were signed up to room together for the 2016/2017 school year. It feels like years have passed since that day, not just one.
We’re all scattered now for the summer, but I cannot let this year of living with these incredible souls go unspoken of. Each one has taught me so much.
This priceless gem of a friend. What can I say? I should tell you first that she is the best at breaking me. A look, a phrase, and suddenly I’m in peels of laughter with a red face or just stumbling over my words with a red face. No matter what, my face is red. Hannah knows she has this power and uses it on me IN PUBLIC. As horrifying as that was at first, this helped teach me to let loose more and not take myself so seriously all the time.
Hannah is a real friend, through and through. She’s been an encourager throughout this past school year and has always been there with hugs, chocolate, and more hugs and chocolate. One day I was stressing over an assignment and she walked into the room and gave me a hug. I was pleasantly surprised and she just said, “You looked like you needed a hug.”
I’m really good at self-deprecating humor, and sometimes it’s funny, but there are times when my low self-esteem comes in and my humor becomes very cruel toward myself. Hannah has been one of the people to bring this to my attention this year. I would joke about something and she would look at me pained and say, “Oh, honey…” I would just stand there in a stunned state as I realized that my attempt at being funny had instead been hurtful. She has made me stop to think more than I have before about where my jokes are stemming from and to be more kind and gentle with myself.
Also, we found out during the last week of school that we both had an obsession with Stargate SG1 and could have been cracking nerdy jokes and making references this whole time, but no one ever knows what Stargate is so neither of us bring it up. Lesson has been learned on my end: just be a nerd, it’s fine; the other nerds sometimes end up living with you and you don’t want to miss out.
Hannah has the biggest heart. I’m so, so grateful for this incredible woman and for this year of getting to know her. My words cannot do her justice.
And this Talented Fairy Child, where do I start? Rachel is one of the most gifted humans I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Every time I turned around she was teaching herself a new song, writing a new song, teaching herself to knit, painting something, sketching, or dancing. She was our constant provider of tunes, as she would play her guitar in the evenings as we were all winding down from our days.
Rachel has taught me to live with more gusto. It’s a continual lesson for me, but Rachel has given me a better look at it than anyone else. Rachel takes life in both hands, she goes for things, she jumps in; she doesn’t let the possibility of failing keep her from the possibility of learning, from the possibility of living the most full life. She has helped push me through my insecurities and self-doubt—she’s the reason my first blog post was posted. She sat on my floor and read it and then looked at me and said, “Anna-Marie, you post this right now or I will do it for you.”
She also liked to scare me senseless at every opportunity. I’m very jumpy as it is, and this made her victories even more glorious as she would scare me at times without even intending to. Our days were filled with her scaring me and me trying to get her back for it (which I finally did a few times—so good, it felt so good).
Rachel was also my person I would run to at the end of the day to talk about Women’s Lit and my feminist angst, which was so incredibly necessary.
But most importantly, Rachel helped me start going to church again. She reminded me that I wasn’t alone, shared in my questions and frustrations, and reminded me that there is a God bigger than all that.
And like Hannah, she has always been there with a hug when I needed it. Rachel gives wonderful, soul-healing hugs.
I’m so glad to now have this fantastic woman in my life.
THE BONUS SUITEMATE: Taylor P.
Taylor was my roommate’s former roommate. She came to visit a handful of times during my first semester living with the girls and I honestly had no idea what to make of her. She’s bouncy, she’s probably the most extraverted person I’ve ever met (she said “hi” and I felt my introverted power banks go down to about 3%), however, as time went by I was able to see that she has the most golden heart.
Taylor has become a wonderful friend. She has brought me chocolate and left me notes when I was stressing myself out, hugs when I was sad (or literally any time she saw me around campus), and texts that brightened my day.
The biggest thing Taylor has taught me this year is that I need to get to the heart of a person before I make any decisions on whether or not we could be friends. Because I was adamant that we never would be when I first met her. Oh, what I would have missed out on had I held on to that!
What a delightful human, full of talent and life, and a love for Coca-Cola that she should probably seek help for. What a blessing to my life she has been.
The Roomie: Alex P.
This one has become another sister to me. I’ve lost track of how many nights we stayed up until 4am/5am talking about life, our fears, and our darkest secrets. We laughed hard one of our last nights staying up late talking: “We had no idea this would happen. Who would have thought, huh?” “Yeah, who would have thought?”
I will never be able to thank this woman for all she’s done for me. She went around to talk with my professors when I was struggling with a horrible bout of depression during our first semester together—it made it easier for me when I finally could work up the courage and motivation to talk to them myself (I didn’t find out that she had done this until our second semester). She sat with me as I cried my heart out because I felt broken and she encouraged me as I began my journey taking medication. She felt my frustration when I had allergic reactions to my meds. She talked me out of dropping out of college when I felt too stupid to carry on (this happened at least twice). She accepted me and loved me through a lot of trying life changes. And because of her attentiveness and willingness to talk to me late one terrible night, I’m alive today. At times the fall semester felt like something out of Dante’s Inferno for me.
In the spring she cheered me on as I took a leadership position in the poetry club I’ve been a part of since the first semester of freshman year. She encouraged me as I fought with bad head days, laughed at my ridiculous jokes, danced away stressful days with me, and encouraged me as I went through the process of changing my major—and not long after that, she changed hers, too.
We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve wanted to hit each other over the head with frying pans a few times, we’ve been annoyed and irritated with each other, but that’s life when you live it with another person. It sometimes may feel like they are driving you up a wall, but they are growing you, they are sharpening you, and you become grateful for everything that makes up who they are.
We’ve taught each other so much. We’ve grown so much. She has become one of my best and dearest friends.
Alex is one of the best people I’ve ever known and I am so, so glad she gave me a shot as her roommate and stuck with me. I’ve found a phenomenal friend in her.
I love this suite. I love how close we all are. I love the deep discussions we’ve had, I love the laughter-fests that occurred during late nights as we all tried to get projects completed that we should have started earlier. I love our spontaneous dances, our spontaneous sing-alongs, our silly phrases and those excellent quotes no one else gets to know.
I wish I could tell you all our stories, all the fun adventures, all the goodness that was living together, all the craziness, but that would take a book-length work and no blog post should ever be so long.
So, I’ve given you a glimpse at these beautiful souls I’ve come to know over this past school year and how much they’ve come to mean to me. They have made me more outgoing, more willing to try new things, and more like me.
Next year will be different. For the fall semester, Rachel will be studying abroad and it will be Alex, Hannah, and I rooming together. That will switch in the spring semester when Hannah will be married and Rachel will take her spot as roomie. Taylor will be in another dorm. Things won’t be the same.
But that’s not necessarily bad. I look forward to the year of new memories we will create and the adventures we are all going to have—separately and together.
I’m so very blessed and grateful that this rooming situation worked out like it did. I grew so much in the last school year, and a lot of that growing was due to these incredible women and their willingness to be a part of my life by listening, by speaking life, by giving their time and their love.
If I get nothing out of college other than these friendships and what they’ve taught me, it will have been worth it.