Stephanie (collacentaur) wrote,

Dear Bridget:

Dear Bridget: Best friend isn't big enough. Roommate is even further off, really, and is misleading, since I haven't lived with you in more than four years. Sister wouldn't accurately reflect it. I'm never sure how to explain to people who you are and what you mean to me. There simply isn't a short answer.

I remember you told me you disliked me immediately when you met me. I didn't really register your existence at the time, but given the other people present, I guess that's not surprising. You've said you saw me as a rival for Kevin's attention. If I'd been paying attention, I would have reacted the same way to you. Each of us ran the risk of losing our brand-new friend to the other.

Instead, Kevin carefully orchestrated it so that we had to talk to each other. And, after spontaneously decorating his door together, it worked. We were so different in so many ways, but we approached the world in similar enough ways to understand each other. Over time, we learned that our strengths and weaknesses complemented each other. I couldn't make phone calls to strangers, or often even to friends, but I could talk to people in person to get things straightened out. You had no problem on the phone, but refused to talk to people face-to-face. Both of us became expert at pretending to be the other.

I remember one day we sat down with a box of crayons and each drew the floor plan of our house, so stories about home would make more sense. I don't know if mine was any good, but your drawing was good enough that I managed to find your keys for you over the phone that summer, before I'd ever visited.

We had talked briefly about getting a triple, with Liz, but then she decided to apply for a medical single, and you and I decided we shouldn't ever live together. We had such different habits, we kept such different schedules, and we felt it would ruin our friendship. And when I joined Medfest, you didn't want to live somewhere I might bring the scary people. So I tripled with Sandy and Olivia, and you got a Riker double with a commuter friend who wanted to move on campus. Two weeks into the semester, I was ready to kill Sandy and Liv, and when your friend had to go back to commuting, we both figured we'd take our chances with each other instead of random strangers.

That was the year that Kevin caught us bringing cinder blocks from Jaeger Lumber on luggage carts, and regretted not asking us why we wanted to borrow his. The year of the homemade bubble stuff, and I have some neat pictures of our friends playing with it. It was the year of the lentils, which have become legendary. Well, mostly just legendary - they still keep showing up in moves. The year of crayons and collaborative poetry-writing in chemistry class. It was the year that every time I bought peanuts at the grocery store, Marty would show up to complain to me about how unreasonable all women were. The year Irving got us up early to listen and call in to Chris's radio show, and would stay listening to it after we left for class. It was the year of your first boyfriend and my second. The year of lounge camping, since we often had as many as three or four guests staying with us on a given weekend. The year of sharing logins and sending to ourselves on Daniel. The year I put a leash on your hairbrush so I could find it. It was the year we first used the Post-It calendars. The year we climbed in and out of our windows, and could get your phone and computer outside with us when we wanted to sit in the sun. Sadly, it was also the year we had Caroline as a prospective, the year I learned what pot smells like, and the year we learned all about Sycamore House, Public Safety, Morristown shrinks, and Morristown Memorial's psych ward.

And it was the year I got you into Medfest, against your better judgment. But you liked eating with me, and I was having to split time between you and the Medfest table. And, like me, you eventually found you kind of liked some of those freaks once you got to know them. And you decidedly liked costuming, although both of us were terrified of disturbing Monica the Costuming Goddess. Funny how things you never expected to do can become an integral part of life.

We really became Medfest Central during junior year. Also Crisis Central, it seems - I remember an awful lot of people unloading problems on us. In between, we still found time to MUD a lot, and to turtle-proof the room. And there was Physics Night once a week. No more lounge-camping, though, since we had Amy's single as a guest room.

By the end of that year, we'd started to get sick of each other, so it's as well we had doors to put between us senior year. We seldom closed the doors during the day, though. When we named it the Commune, it was mostly a joke, but when you consider all the life in and around us, it was an apt description. You, me, Liv, and technically Amy. Jenny and/or Chris many weekends, along with other less frequent guests. Even Bryan lived with us for a week. One turtle, two rats, and three guppies, plus I had a couple of human "pets" who were often in my room even when I wasn't.

I think the best part of senior year must have been our spring break road trip to Florida. How typical a college experience could we have? It was a great way to break in my new car. I keep wishing I could do something like that again. I'd love to be able to just get in my car and go somewhere without having a lot of responsibilities and obligations to worry about.

I was a little at a loss for quite a while after graduation. I had been so accustomed to always knowing I had someone to do things with. I knew who I would meet for meals, who I would go to the grocery store with, and who I could talk to for the last half hour before I went to sleep. I didn't really even think about myself in the singular any more. It was very hard to adjust to doing things alone, and the commune mailing list just didn't replace the real thing. Although I knew I wanted to be in New Jersey, I seriously considered following you to Rhode Island just because I missed you so much.

Eventually I adjusted, of course. While I don't see you often any more, between phone and email, BBS and LJ, we're almost always up to date. And we make it for the important stuff - I was there to get you ready for your wedding, and to help you move to your new house. You were here when I needed distraction from breakup #3, just as you had been for the first two during college. I'm sure we'll always be there for each other when it really matters.

You have been so much more to me over the years than just a roommate and a friend. You have been my confidante, my conscience, my memory, my helping hand, my sense of adventure, my sanity check, my partner in crime, my strength and my support. There is no simple phrase to sum up all of who you are.
Tags: dear friends, nostalgia

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