On my first trip home freshman year, discussion among my friends centered around our new life at school: courses, activities and for those of us who had moved away from home, dorm life.
When I was quizzed on this subject, however, there was usually a hint of uneasiness in the interrogator's voice.
"So how do you like your roommate?"
"I like her a lot. We get along well."
Then there would be an uncomfortable pause.
"Is it true that she's gay?"
"Has she ever come onto you?"
"No, I'm not her type."
It's the truth. I'm not. She explained to me once that every girl she meets goes into one of two categories: friend or possibly more than a friend. I was in the former category from day one.
We laugh about that first day.
I had my suspicions from the beginning — the noticeable lack of skirts on her side of the closet was a big tip off — but she took her time in talking about it. She needed to test me out first.
As we unpacked, our conversation turned every so often to homosexuality. I tried to make it clear that I was not homophobic. Meanwhile, when she mentioned people she was interested in, she didn't indicate their sex.
A couple of days later, she was talking about a friend she had just made. She was going on and on about how awesome this girl was. I didn't think the charade was necessary any more, So I said, "I want to meet this girl," and flashed her a teasing smile that said, "I know you have a crush on her."
From then on, we talked openly about everything.
Some nights we would turn out the lights, climb into our respective bunks and talk until the wee hours of the morning. We talked about all sorts of things: family, friends, romantic interests — male in my case and female in hers.
I had so many questions for her. I wanted to know what it was like to be gay. Did she hope to get married (to a woman, of course), and did she want to have children, and how?
She talked about how happy she was to be here in the United States. In her very small, very Catholic, Irish hometown, she had trusted only a few close friends with the truth. Here, she could finally be open about her sexual orientation.
I was never uncomfortable around her. I certainly didn't mind changing in front of her. After all, we're both girls! I often wondered, though, if I would feel uncomfortable seeing two women kiss.
My question was answered one day when a few of her friends came over, two of whom had recently started dating. They stood near the door, holding hands, rubbing noses and giving each other little kisses. They were one of the cutest couples I've ever seen. And it didn't bother me a bit.
Like most roommates, she and I had disputes. But they had nothing to do with our different sexual orientations. They were your typical turn-down-your-music-I-can't-study discussions.
We were a good match. I spelled words for her when she was too lazy to look them up, and she handled my computer problems. I didn't mind the enormous pile of clothes on our floor, and she put up with my long phone calls.
I cheered for her at the Fire Hazard masquerade ball, and she pounded on the door across the hall when the guys there were blaring music at 3 a.m. and I couldn't sleep. My roommate and I did not become best friends. Our personalities were very different, we were involved in different activities and we had different sets of friends.
We may no longer be roommates, but we still greet each other with the words, "Hey, roomie!" I lend her my bike from time to time, and she comes over to fix my computer when I can't get it to work.
We're more than simply former roommates, though. We're good friends.
Jennifer Maloney is a 'Prince' senior writer from Ottawa, Ontario.