To My Roommates.
Reflections on "Once in a Lifetime" experiences and a bittersweet ending.
It's been 2 years since I wrote the words to a small poem included at the end of this reflection here, and I remember the emotion clearly. There's something about knowing "I will never have an experience like this again" that can propel you into gratitude.
Living with friends during your college years isn't an experience most people will have twice. It wasn't always perfect, and sometimes I'm glad to have moved on. But when I find old writings like this, I remember how beautiful living in community truly is. We (mostly) embraced each others flaws, revelled in the chaotic late night laughter, would hop into each others beds to tell stories of our days. We would share meals together, watch our favourite TV shows, and blast music and force ourselves to do the all-too necessary chores. We would sometimes break outdoors or hole ourselves up in our beds to get away from each other, sometimes complain about each other to outsiders, I'm sure.
College itself is a weird little microcosm. There is likely no other experience quite like it - when you are moving yourself towards adulthood and yet being sometimes completely rudderless, free of your parents' restrictions, sometimes stressed and losing your mind, sometimes feeling like you just might be able to do it -- real life. And on top of all that, you're trying to learn things and maintain a decent GPA. It's a unique, transitional period.
I remember the day we all moved out and that perfectly bittersweet emotion that left a rock in my gut. We were moving on, and I was convincing myself it was okay. This was my last year; this was the end of a book I had been so comfortable being a part of. I had been dreading that day for months knowing it would feel like that, and I wrote about that dread, and started to consider every good moment as a potential "last". "I will never have this experience again" is a powerful feeling. Last time watching "Lost" together. Last time lying on the floor until 2am. Last time eating the scones someone had made on a creative whim. Last time making a Slushie run.
Our relationship is different now, the 7 of us. It's not necessarily better or worse, but it's different. We all live independent lives. Some of us have moved on entirely, others still fall back into these patterns from time to time. We see each other in groups of 2 or maybe 3, never 7. Things have happened. Some of us have other jobs, some of us have moved back home with parents. Some have dropped off the face of the earth (we miss you, and we think about you a lot. Come back to us). Rarely do we ever gather with all of us. The more I think about that never necessarily happening again, the more something twists in my chest. But the more this year in my memory also becomes a beautiful rarity, a gem. Something that can't be reproduced. That in itself gives it enough value to be notable in my mind.
I know that so many roommate experiences are nightmares. I won't romanticize every part of this experience. But I hope that there is beauty in at least some of these moments, and that this beauty can be observed and appreciated for what it is.
So, to my roommates, I miss you. And thank-you for that year that was so wonderful in so many ways, that it prompted me to deny its inevitable end at all.
And I know we have time,
But the air smells like the end
And something hangs around our heads like it knows too.
Push it back,
This is life forever.
Our schedules lined up neatly,
The unwashed dishes on the counter,
Shoes scattered too far into the hallway.
I haven't turned on a record in months.
This is who we are, how we live.
There is nothing else.
There is nothing else.