Dear College Roommates,
In the coming weeks, many teens will crease open the front cover to explore the next chapter of their lives for the first time. And for most, it will be completely unlike ours was decades ago. Not because of new music genres or the existence of social media platforms, but because of a pandemic that nobody had pencilled into their plans.
They’re expecting the unexpected. And maybe they’re already missing what we perhaps took for granted? I wish they didn’t have to. I wish their experience promised all the new, scary, funny, and awkward moments that helped shape the “who” of “who we are.”
Will today’s freshmen miss out on what we had as roommates?
These teens, they will have to wait and see – and make the best of what’s in front of them. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s a blessing that they don’t know things any other way, but just thinking about all that we would have missed, makes me want to hit pause and reflect with gratitude.
So, I am.
Because I want to properly thank you for all the hours we truly and completely lived under the shared roof of 444 Main Street.
In a line up, we certainly didn’t look the part of likely friends. We weren’t a poster for peer-pressure born homogeneity. We weren’t a collection of punks or hippies or affiliated through any sorority. We were more like a stateside version of the Spice Girls – and we loved that about us.
We celebrated one another’s individuality at every turn.
The four of us…
The photographer who shared new perspectives and lived art in every way.
The writer who sought solitude and pulled us to coffeehouses for readings.
The teacher who had her head down in lesson plans and lifted us with children’s play. The sociology major who wasn’t sure how it all would play out and opened herself to discovery.
For all the brimming bowls of cereal-for-dinner, consumed after aerobics class, without judgement over seconds or thirds.
For open bags of sourdough pretzel bites dipped in seemingly bottomless peanut butter.
For an unspoken understanding of how to co-exist with only one bathroom.
For gushing over Party of Five and racing to be in place to watch it together every week.
For highlighted phone bills and shared dollars (and sense).
For saved answering messages from boys (and ones from our parents, too).
For adding Cat Stevens, Indigo Girls, Talking Heads, Beastie Boys, Barenaked Ladies and more to my life soundtrack (and for enduring my Tracy Chapman).
For all the impromptu-strobe-light dance breaks that brought knocks to our door (no, we’re not having a rager, we’re just a couple of girls dialing it up like we know how.)
For crying together through losses and for showing up for personal wins.
For understanding signals sent across crowded rooms and supporting needed extractions.
For never having to walk home alone.
For bursting every time we spotted one another on campus (as if we hadn’t seen each other that same morning).
For being a ready voice of reason – as close as our couch, our front stoop or a walk to the park.
For sharing the bookshelf, the closet, the fridge and, most notably, your monthly care packages.
For not always being perfect, but being perfectly willing to work things out.
For being a version of family that none of us ever knew we needed.
For you bringing me not only to the edges of my being, but also for pushing me outside myself to see more, learn more, feel more and be more. You made me a better woman, person and friend. I just can’t imagine who exactly I would be today without the fortune of finding all of you, all those years ago.
Since we’ve graduated…
We’ve since graduated to careers and advanced degrees and overseas adventures and marriage and motherhood and cancer and divorce and loss and so much more that is life as life unfolds, and without any specified rhythm, we remain connected and we make plans.
And we get deep on details about all the things.
And before we part, we always take a picture – the four us. We mark the moment, maybe to see how we’ve grown, but I also like to think it’s to celebrate the beautiful blessing that life brought us together in the first place – convening us for chance meetings on a campus of about 8,000.
To my 444 girls, thank you. I love, forever.
And to the kids just getting underway, maybe it’s not a numbers game. Maybe it’s not about sorting mail sent to a shared address or wondering who left you without a hot shower. Maybe the matter at hand has nothing to do with being among thousands to hopefully find three.
Because it’ll be both amazing and enough to meet anyone who challenges you in ways you never knew possible.
The friends you make are your future
Those people are in your future.
Those people will be your friends for life.
Those people will be in your camera roll – and they will be meaningful figures in all the chapters that follow this one.
And, good luck out there.
Megan Sciarrino is a nonprofit communications professional who welcomes the diversion of storytelling and freelance writing. She’s mom to two very different daughters, a teen and a tween, who thankfully agree on one thing: bagels and cream cheese.
More to Read:
Roommate Problems? How to Help Your Unhappy College Student Here are ways parents can help support your teen if roommate problems crop up during freshman year.