The people you live with in college become extensions of your family. Or rather, they become a second family — found family. People you make a home with, the relationships cultivated through the buying of fresh flowers from the farmer’s market every Sunday and lavender candles that accumulate on every possible surface.
They are the people who run errands or go shopping with you when you ask because you just want someone else in the car with you, riding shotgun and singing along softly to your playlists. You learn about their families. You take trips to visit each other’s houses and get a glimpse of who they were pre-college. You do fashion shows for each other, modeling the clothes you bought after a Saturday afternoon spent at thrift stores. You flop onto each other’s beds to complain about the most minor inconveniences.
You’re bonded together by the nights you go out, dancing together and sharing drinks at your favorite bar, snapping blurry photos of each other that you’ll laugh at in the morning. But it’s also the nights you stay in, crowded around the TV in your living room watching old “Saturday Night Live” skits, drinking Moscow mules out of those fancy copper mugs. It’s the photos you print out to hang in the living room, documenting the memories of the four of you from each and every birthday celebration, holiday party, beach trip and, of course, the Heinz ketchup costume that somebody inevitably ends up wearing whenever you all take tequila shots.
Your roommates are the people who see you at your absolute worst, and yet they choose to stay. They sit on the cold hardwood floor with you after your boyfriend walks out the door for the last time. Your knees buckle, leading you to collapse. But there they are, pulling you into their arms as you sob, exchanging looks of disbelief with each other because no one had seen this coming.
They bring you cups of tea, peppermint or green with a touch of honey — just the way you like it. They remind you to eat and braid your hair back when it keeps falling into your eyes. They take care of you, and you take care of them. You sit with them on their beds as they cry and wonder what they could have done differently, and you tell them, in no uncertain terms, that they are kind and brave and beautiful and broken relationships don’t change that.
You get through the times when you scream at each other for not understanding, for understanding too well, for being too close and yet so far at the same time. It’s sitting on that cold hardwood floor in the kitchen, emphasizing your words with tears that won’t stop coming no matter how many times you pause to breathe and count to 10. And you’re sitting with your backs against the cabinets, sweatshirts pulled down over your legs, mascara smudging with each new set of tears but knowing that while you are not OK right now, you will be eventually.
It’s the hugs goodbye and the “love you’s” called out as you walk out the door to class. It’s an extra iced coffee grabbed from Dunkin’ for one of them on your way back from grocery shopping because you memorized her coffee order to surprise her whenever she needs a pick-me-up. It’s offering bites of whatever you happen to be cooking for dinner that night, a “Here, try this,” accompanied with a heaping forkful to taste test. It’s the 11 p.m. drive to the nearest CVS to get Plan B, your knuckles tightly gripping the steering wheel while one of them sits in the passenger seat of your car, knees drawn up to her chest and head resting against the window streaked with rain.
Their friends end up being your friends, and people you only knew in passing become regulars at the apartment. They slowly start appearing in the pictures hanging in the living room, and the beer pong table you painted five days before last Halloween is carted around to all of their houses for tailgates in the fall and daytime parties when winter turns to spring. It’s the cards and presents stacked on the table when you walk out of your room the morning of your birthday and your roommates helping you blow up balloons, standing on the counter to hang silver streamers from the ceiling.
It’s driving around your college town recreating Carpool Karaoke and the whiteboard hanging on the fridge that gets a new decoration every season and the liquor and wine bottles that decorate the top of your cabinets, standing straight in a line like proud soldiers. And above all else, it’s the sheer amount of love and support that constantly radiates from three of the most important people in your life, created and continuously being formed by all of these little moments.
- A Love Letter to My Roommates - October 8, 2021
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