This weekend my roommates from freshman year of college came to visit. Do you have friends that you can go without seeing for long amounts of time yet it feels like no time has passed? Of course, we have all had to work to stay in touch–we have an email chain that we have used to discuss our semester’s abroad, dating lives, beauty recommendations, and everything about our lives. I read though some of our old emails and realized that reading though them is like reading the diary that I never got past page one of in college and the post-grad life. They are still the people who make me laugh until I cry (reminiscing about their childhood on a leash, or my sleep talking/walking mumblings “you wear that in your hair? that’s sooo cute” “so cute…so curious”), tell everything to, and turn to for advice. We have all grown up (I no longer dance on tables in the library while writing our freshman year thesis), we no longer push all the beds together as a prank (sorry Jess), we no longer stick the Furby toy in the fridge when it won’t shut up, we no longer play on photo booth in class, and we no longer spend every night staying up chatting. This weekend we re-read the story I wrote my sophomore year about our move in day. Some of it is slightly exaggerated (except the part about Tay’s dad) but it is a pretty good representation of the reality that was, and has continued to be, 933.
“You’re all going to be each other’s bridesmaids,” she said as a camera flash went off.
The women sat back down on the bed.
“Perfect,” she exclaimed looking at the picture in her digital camera. I had just walked into the door of my college dorm room. I shook my head to try to eliminate the little blue and purple dots that obstructed my view—residue from the unexpected camera flash.
“Hi, I’m Jessica,” a tan and exotic blonde, said eagerly. She waved with her construction-cone orange nails. The photographer woman perched on the bed must have been her mother. Before the girl, who I assumed was the other roommate, had time to formally introduce herself, the photographer had wheeled my duffel bag to my new bed. “Here let me help you. Steven is excellent at making beds—I think it’s the only decent thing he learned in the Army.” Steven, the bald, lanky man who must have been her husband took my duvet cover and sheets out of the now opened suitcase. I laughed in an effort to be polite yet was frightened to be having people briskly unpacking my belongings. Jessica took out handfuls of my t-shirts and jeans and started folding them meticulously into the dresser drawers.
The girl, who I assumed was another roommate, seemed in awe by the unpacking activity that had commenced. She seemed to collect her thoughts, pushed back her Vera Bradley headband, and walked over to me extending her hand.
“I’m Danielle,” she said, “Do you need help unpacking anything?” she asked looking around the room.
“I think I have it pretty under control,” I said with a laugh when really I hadn’t unpacked a thing. Jessica, the photographer and her family had already assembled my bed, and most of my closet. What I assumed was an older brother began working on assembling my laptop and printer. I glanced at my watch wondering why my Mom was having so much trouble finding parking.
Danielle’s mother repositioned the Laura Ashley duvet cover and pillows on her daughter’s bed. Her brother, who looked around twelve, sat on the foot of the bed playing with a Nintendo GameBoy. Her dad, who seemed a bit overdressed in his sports jacket and khakis, was busy hanging a huge white board above her bed. He must have been a perfectionist because he kept moving the board at what seemed like two-degree increments. I noticed that Danielle, her mother, her father and her brother were all wearing different colored Ralph Lauren Polos. It reminded me of tourist groups that I always saw around Times Square—a creative effort not to lose each other in a crowd while still maintaining some sense of individuality. It was either that or Danielle’s family was just so preppy that they all happened to wake up and put on Polos.
“What did you do this summer?” Danielle asked, spinning her Tiffany’s Heart bracelet around her wrist.
I explained that I had interned for a Presidential Campaign—diplomatically avoiding the name. I did not want to bring up politics with people I had just met. I asked her what she had done for the summer and she proceeded with a laundry list of activities.
“I went to the World Model United Nations Conference in Bangladesh for two weeks. Then I went to Ethiopia for three weeks with my Church Mission Group to volunteer. After Ethiopia I went to New Jersey’s Governor’s School, then I traveled with my High School Mock Trial Club, I was the President…” I had stopped listening up until she said, “Anyway so that is enough about me and my summer. I don’t mean to bore you. I think my family and I are going to go out for lunch—would anyone else care to join us?”
Everyone politely declined her offer and, seconds after the Polo Clad Family made their graceful exit my mom arrived at the door. I was relieved when I saw her enter the room. She looked around shocked at the progress that had been made. Before my mom could introduce herself, the photographer pounced.
“Hi, you must be Elana’s mother,” she said getting up from the suitcases she was unpacking for me. She extended her hand to my mother.
“So Jessica tells me you’re from New York City?” she said looking at us, “Oh before I forget,” she said and, before my mom could answer, pulled a notebook and pen from her purse, “Let me get your address and phone numbers just in case we ever need to get in touch.” My mom looked surprised but complied. I walked into my closet and was amazed by Jessica’s handiwork. My skirts, dresses, jackets and button downs were all hung up meticulously according to item type. We were about to start a conversation when the door opened again.
A tall brunette in a Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote Democrat T-shirt opened the door. A man who I assumed was her Father held the door open with his foot and held a large box with bedding and flannel Steelers blanket hanging out. He had surprisingly toned and muscles and his hair was dark brown as opposed to gray like Danielle’s father or bald like Jessica’s. The girl introduced herself as Tayler but, if she said anything else, I couldn’t hear it over Jessica’s whispers.
“He’s such a DILF,” Jessica told me wide-eyed. The photographer walked up to the DILF and grabbed the blankets and bedding wildly motioning for Stephen to perform his excellent bed making skills.
“Mom stop,” Jessica said, but before she could finish, her Blackberry rang, “Grandma,” she answered, “Grandma, now is not a good time I’m moving in to my dorm room.” I could vaguely hear the shrill voice on the other end of the phone. “Grandma,” the shrill voice continued. Jessica tried to assert herself again. “Grandma—mom it’s grandma,” the photographer waved her hands indicating that she was too busy to speak. She was busy finding out the DILF’s address, home phone, work phone and cell phone numbers.
“Ugh,” Jessica held her hand around the base of the phone and turned to me, “we might as well have some fun with this. My grandma loves singing that Daniel Powter song Bad Day. Watch,” She lifted her hand from the receiver,
“Grandma, I’m having a bad day,” she said as she used a construction-cone orange fingernail to hit the speaker button. Her Grandmother began singing Bad Day in her shrill New Jersey accent. Taylor, Jessica and I couldn’t hold back our laughter. Danielle and her Polo Clad Posse breezed back into the room in time to hear the final chorus.
Eventually, we finished unpacking and we were fully moved into our new room. The photographer, her bed-making husband and technology guru son left the room. The DILF left the room. The Polo-Clan Posse sans one left the room leaving behind a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Danielle, Tayler, Jessica and I sat on top of our Army Strong-made beds and we allowed silence to fill the room. We could make small talk about our summers, the roommate contract that was due at the end of the week, or the classes we were registered for but one spoke up. It was as if we made an unwritten agreement to save those conversations for another time. Right now all we needed was silence—no commotion, no re-arranging, no parents and definitely no Bad Day performances. Move-In day was over.
P.S. Read Tayler’s fabulous rendition of the weekend (including the pilgrimage to Babycakes) at her blog Tayler Made.