Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I Remember: dormitorium

Moving out and going to college was the perfect new beginning in my life. Almost nobody from my high school followed me down to BYU that year. There were three of us and we weren't very close, so I think I saw the other two a total of 3 times, and never together. All of my high school baggage, all of my awkwardness and poor choices, were left behind in a heap. Here was an opportunity to reinvent myself, to admit to myself that I was still a kid and had a lot of growing and learning to do and welcome the opportunity to evolve and grow up without anyone expecting me to be consistent with my old self. It's not so much that I changed drastically, as that I cherished the sensation of having no expectations to live up to for good or ill.

I didn't actually get such a great start though. I moved into my dorm a week early in order to attend some sort of orientation program. I am not a naturally neat person anyway, it takes considerably mental effort for me to remember to clean up after myself as I go. On the day my roommate arrived the room was a whirling dervish from a frantic morning of sleeping through my alarm. Poor poor Megan.

The day of her arrival also happened to be her 19th birthday. I figured that my mess had been the antithesis of what I would have wished to give her for her birthday, so I bought her flowers. I soon found out that Megan was a meticulous natural cleaner. Nothing in the world seemed to come more naturally or with more enjoyment to her than keeping her space enviably clean and neat. I know I must have caused her hundreds of thousands of weighty sighs.

It turned out that Megan had requested to room with one of her friends from high school, but from some glitch in the system she ended up with me instead. I have no doubt that her exasperation was amplified by this fact, but, BUT by the end of 2 years of living together she seemed to have developed a soft spot for my quirky, turbulent self. She taught me how to clean, and a bit about how to WANT to clean, and I taught her how to cook, and how to love Sinatra. She taught me about buying quality clothes and making them last forever, and I taught her about loving going to class. She taught me about the importance of sleep, and I taught her about pushing the limits on how little sleep a person could function on. We were quite the odd couple.

Megan's mother died suddenly of an undiagnosed illness when she was still quite young. There was one night when I started crying in my sleep while having a nightmare about my parents dying and being left to take care of my siblings at home and arrange the funeral. (Being a dream and not bound by rationality, there may have been coffins dumped on the front lawn because I didn't know where to tell the hearse driver to deliver them.... and then I had the added in-dream stress of trying to keep my siblings from seeing them.)  Megan woke me up to see what was the matter and I had to explain to her that I was having a nightmare about essentially the nightmare she'd already lived through. That could have been awkward, but was actually a sacred little moment in the middle of the night in a dorm room.

I will never be like Megan, and she will never be like me. But I think perhaps we are both a little better for having been paired up in a shoebox of a room together. Frankly it wouldn't break my heart to be more like her. She's gorgeous and funny and kind, and she doesn't have my propensity to overcommit herself, so she's actually in a position to be helpful and extend herself to others when it matters most. She's devoted to her family, and frankly they're lucky to have her. And I'm thrilled to pieces that she'll be joining me in the adventure of raising boys. (Or rather a boy, along with her twin girls).

Maybe now I'll see how it's done properly.


Lacey said...

very good post. isn't megs amazing! i love her too! She truly has made me a better person just knowing her. You are pretty amazing yourself miss emily! i am glad you were dorm roomies as well, so that i could get to know you too! love you!

--jeff * said...

i'm really enjoying these reminiscing posts, em. i actually had the idea to start such a series of my own and kept a list of thoughts that i would right about, planning to launch them at some point or another, although that still hasn't happened yet.
but i'm glad that you're taking the time.

and your comment near the end, about not overcommitting ourselves so that we have the "luxury" of having time to help others out got me thinking. i suppose that's kind of like staying out of "time debt", so that we are free to help others.
an interesting thought, anyway.

may you continue to write,

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