Sunday, November 22, 2009

Freshman Falling Out

In the fall of my freshman year at college, I was assigned a roommate by the university's Residential Life Office. The books I'd read that took place at boarding schools or colleges had always shown that roommates were friends, and of course I was hopeful (actually, anxious) that my roomie and I would be friends as well. On paper, we matched pretty well. I had chosen a college far away from home which no one else I knew had heard of, let alone attended.

Things did not start out very well. I n retrospect, I think I bore a lot of responsibility for this. Because I was anxious I was more arrogant than usual. I remember specifically showing off that I was from a big city, saying that Tacoma was a small town (which it wasn't). This could not have impressed my roommate, who was from a bona fide small town in eastern Washington.

Our room was split in half, closet-bureau-desk-bed in a row on each side. Other people in our dorm freed up space by bunking their beds, but we didn't even consider it. Over her bed, she had a very current Wang Chung poster; over mine, there was a tattered American flag with 48 stars, with a chain hanging across it.

She had a job as a lifeguard and was out in the afternoons and evenings when I was home studying. I was out in the evenings and late nights goofing around with Denver D, Phil, Mrs. P, Bink, Jujubi, Spudwhip, and Tripp when she was at home. I only remember one conversation between my roommate and me, when I asked her was a "suite" was. I had been listening to Suite Judy Blue Eyes and she was enrolled in a music theory class. She told me, and that was the end of that conversation.

The big showdown happened toward the end of the semester. Phil and I had been hanging out at the Ceramics Building, and as usual I returned to the dorm after midnight. A bad feature of the doors in my dorm was that if the doors were locked from the inside they could not be unlocked from the outside with a key. I knocked on the door, first quietly and with relatively long pauses between knocks, and then louder and more constant. There was no response from inside, and I knew my roommate was home because if she hadn't been, if the door had been locked from the outside, I would have been able to get in.

Ultimately I went back outside, to the phone by the front doors that people used to call residents. I dialed our phone number and the phone rang and rang. I was really angry that my roommate was treating me this way, at the same time that I was puzzled about why she hated me so much. It also seemed to me that by not immediately letting me in, she was choosing to be kept awake by listening to me pounding on the door and calling. Eventually she answered the phone and I asked her politely to unlock the door because I was unable to get in to our room.

I moved out at the semester break.

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