Coming home for Thanksgiving break, I realized I missed a lot of things. I missed my parents, my brothers, my house, food that wasn’t lukewarm, my bed, my friends and the local ice cream shop. Upon finding all these things awaiting me as soon as I arrived home for break, I thought I could not possibly miss anything else. But, much to my surprise, even after I reunited with my family, ate my first home-cooked meal in what seemed like a year, slept in my own bed and licked ice cream cones with my friends, I still felt a part of me was absent. I missed something that I didn’t have here, at home, but did back in the Orange Bubble. I missed my roommates.
I never expected to miss them as much as, and maybe even more than, I missed home.
The final months preceding my arrival at Princeton were filled with restlessness and anxiety for many reasons, but most of all, I was nervous to meet my roommates. I had heard friends in college agonize over their terrible rooming situations and read numerous “roommate horror stories” online. Put simply, I was absolutely frightened. When the roommate survey rolled out, I obsessed over every question as if indicating I preferred cold to warm living conditions would be the decisive factor in pairing me with an awful roommate.
When September rolled around and meeting my roommates, which was previously a distant point of speculation, became an inevitability, I found that the horrible roommate stories were still echoing in the back of my mind. Assigned a six-person suite in Wilson, I knew I was luckier than most — I had five chances to make a good impression. Still, I was uneasy, but I could do nothing about it. I was committed to living with these girls for the next nine months.
Like any group of people who just met, we started out as strangers. And as with all strangers, we knew nothing about each other’s interests or backgrounds, save for the vague snippets of information accumulated over a Facebook message thread created during the summer. The first few days were filled with many get-to-know-you conversations, affected enthusiasm and a good share of awkward silences. We did not have any old memories or inside jokes to reminisce over or laugh about — so we had to create them.
Little by little, our individual barriers broke down — some gave in quickly while others were more unyielding, but eventually, we all had to admit we were no longer strangers. And that signaled the scary part — the part when we actually had to learn if we could get along.
The thing is, we all came to college in the same position — scared, nervous but, above all, excited to take chances and leave our comfort zones and pasts behind us. Maybe that is why we meshed so effortlessly; we were all so caught up in reshaping our identities and starting this new chapter in our lives that there was no time for judgment — we accepted each other for who we were.
I cannot remember exactly when we crossed the line from “people who live together” to “friends,” but I know it started when we felt comfortable being our normal selves in front of each other, beyond just exemplifying the six adjectives we used to describe ourselves in the roommate survey. This involved being embarrassing, crazy and downright stupid at times — the good thing is, we are all a little bit of the three.
Whether it was pulling our first (almost) all-nighter, scoring two pizzas from the Free Food Listserv or falling down a full flight of stairs at an eating club, these fundamental college experiences were not individual ones but ones shared among us. We bonded over the fact that we are all in this together — that, even though we hail from different places and have different backgrounds, Princeton is something we all share. From good days to I-want-to-transfer-out-now days, and from sober nights to not-so-sober nights, we would always be there — laughing, crying and celebrating together.
We are now at the point where we can finish each other’s sentences, laugh about something without having to say it out loud and muse over memories as if they happened years ago. The term “friends” simply cannot suffice in describing our relationship with one another. It may sound cheesy, but we know too much about each other’s preferences, habits and compulsive app-playing/online-shopping addictions to be called anything less than sisters.
It is amazing to think that just three months ago, we were strangers. Now we’re family.