*This weekend I will be attending the wedding of my friend Kayla. Kayla and I lived together our sophomore year of college. This post is a tribute to her, and the happy times we spent in our dorm room (whose number I always thought I would remember, but don’t anymore).*
Kayla taught me that the most important quality of a roommate is someone who gives you room to be yourself.
Sometimes I liked to put objects down my shirt, spread my legs, and pretend I was giving birth. Kayla would lay me down on a bed of pillows and ask how many centimeters I was dilated.
One time I stuffed all my clothes into a pair of pants and a shirt and pretended it was a person. Kayla took one look at my creation and said, “Let’s name it Princess Sofia!”
Kayla was a weirdo, too. She liked to mess with people.
One time she chased a group of Asian boys around our dorm with underwear on her head and a piñata hanging from her crotch. (She was teaching them a lesson for tapping on our door every night on their way to the bathroom).
One time we were in the laundry room with the guy who we knew had moved our laundry. “My G-string is gone!” Kayla yelled while searching through our clothes, which he had nervously moved to a nearby table. “Where’s my rubber bra? SOME CREEP MOVED OUR CLOTHES AND STOLE OUR UNDERWEAR!” (He ran out of that laundry room very quickly).
Kayla didn’t want other people to judge her for taking the elevator to the second floor. So if people got on after her, she would take it to the third floor and walk down a flight of steps. This fear of judgment coming from a girl who had been seen running through the dorm with a piñata hanging from her crotch.
This is not to say that our friendship was all birthings and G-strings and crotch piñatas. There were hard times too.
Like the time I forbid her from turning on the fan for a week in the middle of a heat wave because I was worried it would disrupt the crinkled piece of paper I was sketching for my art class. (She was pissed).
Or the time she fell asleep on the top bunk with an open bottle of water in her hand that spilled in the middle of the night. (I woke up soggy).
Also: she disapproved of my social life and I hated her boyfriend and these were constant points of contention that once culminated in us not speaking for three days straight.
But we got through it.
It was a sad day when we moved out of that dorm room whose number I always thought I would remember but don’t anymore. Maybe one of the saddest of my life. Partly because my unplugged refrigerator drained all over our floor and we had already packed up the towels. Partly because we accidentally dropped a hammer behind a dresser drawer while trying to use it to retrieve a piece of paper.
But mostly because Kayla was transferring schools despite my year-long protests for her not to, and I was running off to Australia for a while. So this was the end.
“Fuck,” Kayla said as we stood in the middle of our empty dorm room, for the very last time. “Now I’m all sad and shit.”
“I know,” I said. “This sucks balls.”
I cried as Kayla drove away that day. I still remember how deep that pain was. The pain of knowing our little two-person family would not exist in the same way anymore.
In that very raw moment I remember hoping I would forget the goodness of our time together. Because I already sensed I would never be able to replicate it with any future living partner, and I didn’t want to always have to wish I could.
But also, I knew I did not want to forget. Not for one second. Because I didn’t want for years to pass without us talking and for some mutual friend to one day ask if I’d heard from Kayla and to have to say something like “I’m not really sure what she’s up to, I’ve been meaning to call but you know how busy life gets.”
I don’t think I’ve seen Kayla for three years now. To be honest, life does get busy and miles do get long.
Maybe for a while I did forget some of the good stuff. Maybe I had to. I had to become okay living with other, less-awesome people, afterall.
I don’t remember our old room number. I’m sure I don’t remember half the crazy shit we did. I didn’t even fully remember exactly how much fun that year was until I found these old pictures and read my old Xanga entries.
But I remember now. And now I’m thinking about how lucky I am to have had a roommate who was so much fun that I had to force myself to forget her, just a little bit, just so that I could go on to lead a semi-functional life that does not involve me breaking into Read Hall, lying in the middle of our old room, pulling out a framed picture of her from my pocket and screaming “COME BACK TO ME!!!!!”
Happy wedding, Kayla. Totally jealous someone gets to live with you for life. Stay weird and beautiful.