One of the best things about coming home is going to festivals where you get free food. What a better way to show my patriotism than by standing in line with a free Wawa hat in front of Independence Hall, waiting to get a free hoagie? And iced tea? And bag of chips? I’ved missed Wawa, and not necessarily hoagies, but rather cheesesteaks and breakfast sandwiches. The list of greasy foods can go on.
Another feature of homecoming during the summers is my yearly date with Lauren, my first college roommate, who is even more of an enthusiast of free food, and who gives me the annual update on all of our old classmates – weddings, babies, drama, romances, repeating histories. Seven years is a lot when I think about it; even a year is difficult to re-cap within the time it takes to have coffee or dessert.
When we first moved into the 7th floor of Johnson, we immediately bunked our beds, me on the top, her on the bottom. That made room for the ugly chair, which promptly arrived and became the site of book reading, naps, hallway wars and congregations, etc. When she first saw it, fresh from a second-hand South Street store, she gave it one look and said, “We might need a cover for that.” Though we never did cover it up, hence the name.
She kept her violin under the bed. I’d always envied musicians with such portable, easy-to-hide instruments. Mine was always inconsistent and monstrously lurking in basement glass cubicles. We printed out monthly practice charts and taped them to the back of our door to track our practicing habits, which we always claimed were bad.
On quiet, war-free nights, we wrote in our journals silently under the lamplight. We weren’t the kind of roommates who chatted incessantly til dawn, but rather we shared silence and music well. We would even message each other on the internet while sitting inches away. I’m sure every roommate has done that. When we did talk, I liked listening to her because, as an open and reasonable person, she always had, and still always has, some outlandish or tragic or funny story to tell.
We shared our fondness for e.e. cummings.
I still remember what the door sounded like opening and its tact, the turn of the key and knob. If you weren’t careful it would slam, as it usually did in the neighboring boys’ rooms. She was an extremely light sleeper.
We went to concerts together. Sometimes we went to parties together. Once we came home and, laughing uncontrollably, took photos of ourselves smiling drunkenly together in the dark, the Christmas lights blinking in the background. In our room it was eternally Christmas. And spring was always a perhaps hand.