by Mia Blackwell, Darrow School Class of 2017
Dear First Roommate:
For months before I arrived, questions like “Would you be nice? Would we get along? What makes you tick?” (along with plenty of others) bounced around my mind. Then it came… move-in day, much sooner than I was prepared for.
After four-hour car ride to Darrow, I got out of the car quite cautiously. Here was little 14- year-old me entering a brand new environment in the middle of nowhere, and I wouldn’t have my parents with me. After making it through the registration process, it was time to move into my room. Before this day, whenever I spoke about a roommate to anyone, two words kept coming up: “first impression.”
Unlike most, I could not do any cyber-stalking beforehand because I did not even know I was going to have a roommate until two days before I arrived. My party and I made our way to the third floor, and a very cheerful houseparent showed me to my room. Sure enough, there were two names on the door but no one else was inside yet. Thankfully for me, I had a little time to prepare before you arrived, or so I thought. As I brought in my second load of belongings, there stood another person and their mother.
“This is it… FIRST IMPRESSION,” I thought to myself.
During the first two weeks we began to get comfortable with each other, sharing small snippets about ourselves from now and then. On the first night, you shared that you were “transgender.” That was not something that I was familiar with. I had to adjust.
As the weeks turned to months, a good friendship began to form. My worries about having a roommate dissipated. I could not have lucked out with a more chill roommate. We had become the “Thing 1 and Thing 2” of our house, except we did not cause havoc… much.
Being your roommate, you have seen me at my best and my worst. Whether it was biology, homesickness, or just generally being upset. I have also seen you pretty hype and, on the flip side, pretty sad. I always tried to be the best roommate that I could be in supporting you, whether it was listening to you vent, leaving you alone, or bringing you Cheez-its or Tallulah.
The months steadily progressed to years and we were no longer roommates, but we were still housemates. Our friendship, while still strong, was not as strong was it was when we lived in the same room. You had a new roommate now and I was an resident assistant (RA), but we still hung out now and then.
I learned things that I would never have been able to learn in a classroom, and for that I am forever grateful to you.
This year, I found that many of the lessons that you taught me have been helpful in my transition into Johnson State College. I learned things that I would never have been able to learn in a classroom, and for that I am forever grateful to you. One of the biggest lessons that you taught me was through your failure to turn in assignments on time. You taught me that timing is half the battle; that having just something might lose you points but it is still better than having nothing. You also taught me that it doesn’t matter what other people think as long as you are happy with yourself. (I am still working on that one.)
So here we are four years from the day of that first impression. Four years of change. Boy, we both have changed. But rather than making a toast to the first day that we met, I would like to raise my glass with you for that last Tuesday-night house time, when we sat in a circle and read aloud the letters that we wrote to our future selves at the first Tuesday that year. I remember this meeting quite well. We went around the circle reading our letters and it came to my turn. My number one fear at the time was that my roommate would not like me. As I read this aloud, I began to get emotional because I knew I was being silly writing that, and knew that you would never think of me weirdly or differently, even though I did not know that when I wrote my letter.
In my first year of boarding school I had more than just a roommate. I had a brother.