Watching the premiere of Grown-ish last week (which is EXCELLENT, and if you haven’t seen it yet, DROP EVERYTHING WATCH IT… as soon as you’re done reading this post), I got really nostalgic for my first year of University.
Living in a dorm was a big change for me. As an only child, I’d never shared a room with anyone before, let alone lived in tight quarters with dozens of strangers. (Not to mention sharing a bathroom with 20 or so women.) I remember having a meltdown leading up to my first day, being absolutely terrified that I wouldn’t make any friends and that nobody would like me.
Thankfully I was wrong, and on the very first day I met two of the best people I’ve ever known: Fiona and Meredith.
Meeting these two beauties put me at ease immediately. It’s like my subconscious recognized them immediately as my people, my platonic life partners. These are forever-friends, Palmer, my soul whispered. You’ve lucked out here big time.
Everyone always associates your first year of school with partying. Now, don’t get me wrong: I did lots of that, too (sorry mom). But most of my favourite memories from that year are of spending low-key time with these two, whether it was hanging out at a coffee shop, watching a movie in my room, or just sharing a meal in the dorm cafeteria. We even used to get up early to do an old-school aerobics video (yes, VHS) in the common room before anyone else woke up… which is probably the only memory of group exercise that’s ever brought a smile to my face. Even when we did got out, the most memorable part of the evening wasn’t usually anything on the dance floor; it was going early to beat the line and then sitting in a booth, eating crackers (what? they were free and we were students), sharing our life stories with each other.
And it isn’t just the fun stuff that I cherish. These two stood by me after an incident (#metoo) at the on-campus clinic, never once questioning my experience. We supported each other through breakups (and, in my case: makeups, more breakups, wash, rinse, repeat), challenges with school, and issues with self esteem. It was so reassuring to know that at the end of a bad day, your best friends were just a few feet away, ice cream and hugs at the ready.
Dorm life was like nothing I’d experienced before, and nothing I’ve experienced since. The bonds that you develop there are intense, partly due to proximity, and partly due to age (and being away from home for the first time). Although I love living on my own (and, uh, not sharing a bathroom with 20 people), sometimes I miss the intimacy of living in close quarters with your friends. Plus, that first taste of freedom really is the sweetest, learning together and leaning on each other as you try to navigate the world as newly-minted adults.
Time and distance mean that we don’t see each other as often, but haven’t lessened our bond. If anything, our nearly 16 years (I double-checked the math guys; impossible as it seems, it holds up) of shared history have strengthened our friendship, as we’ve seen each other through life’s miracles and hardships.
Even after all these years, there’s nobody else I’d rather share crackers, stories, and (of course) laughs with in a sticky bar booth.