My grandmother is turning 67 this month, and one of her closest friends is her college roommate, Kathy, with whom she spent all four years of college. They wrote letters for 10 years after graduation, but in 1971 Kathy moved to Uganda. They lost touch for 30 years during the turmoil that Kathy was living through there, including house arrest and having to flee to Kenya. My grandmother still thought about her during all that time, and in 2002 was able to reconnect with Kathy through her brother. They once again write to each other frequently, and were reunited last September when Kathy came to the United States.
I wasn't so lucky. When I came to Geneseo as a freshman, I was placed in a triple in an upperclassmen building, and then, in November, moved into a suite with juniors I didn't know. It's hard enough learning to live with one roommate for the first time - try living with first two and then five! I had a really hard time meeting people, and I regretted that I didn't get the chance to live in a freshmen corridor with one roommate who was experiencing the same first-year jitters that I was. I had to work a little harder, and met my current roommates through classes and mutual friends.
There are five of us in my suite now, and I'm finally getting the chance to realize how much fun my roommates can be and how nice it is to always have someone close by when life isn't going so well.
I consider my grandmother to be very fortunate. I can only hope that 40 or 50 years from now I still have someone around who remembers what I was like when I was 18. These are important years in our lives. Some of us are lucky enough to have great friends from high school, but they will not share the same bond with us that our college friends will. Friends from high school helped us grow up, but friends from college will be the ones with whom we will make life decisions and take our first steps into the world.
As we move forward into careers, marriage and children, the number of people who remember us when we were young will get smaller and smaller, but I hope I will have a friend or two I can sit around with when I'm 60 and say, "Hey, remember that time in college when…?"
This is definitely something to remember when your roommate has her boyfriend over until 4 a.m. or when his laundry starts to stink up the whole room. It doesn't matter if it's someone you barely know or someone you've known for years. Living in close quarters will always start out awkwardly and requires a lot of tolerance and compromise, since we all have our quirks and pet peeves.
But if you're a freshman, your roommate is your first lifeline in college and that automatically creates a bond between you. Even better are the roommates you choose for yourself in the following years - it's like having the chance to pick your own family. As we begin the new school year, try to appreciate your roommate for the impact he or she can have on your life. For the freshmen, I hope Residence Life chose well for you, and I wish everyone a college experience that is someday worthy of reminiscence.