BY SARA PALMER
Based on the suggestion: Roommates.
“Hey, my friends said they tried calling last night and couldn’t get through. Do you guys know if something is wrong with the phone?” I asked my two roommates. I had known them for less than two months, but, with not much in common, it always felt like days.
“Well, I unplug the phone at nine every night, so if it was after that, then that’s why they couldn’t get through.” Replied Courtney.
“Why are you unplugging the phone at night?” I asked of this ridiculous gesture.
“My studies are difficult this semester and I need my rest,” whined Courtney with tears welling up in her eyes.
I was dumbfounded.
First of all, who nominated you queen of the dorm room. Secondly, and more importantly, what if there was an emergency, like my friends calling?
“You can’t just unplug the phone. What if one of our family members needs to get a hold of us? What if there’s an emergency?” I threw this at her, feeling pretty good about my “family emergency” argument, considering seconds before I was only thinking about missing calls from my friends. I knew that, we both knew that, but the point was that nobody could deny a family emergency that shit is real.
It was my freshmen year in college. I was attending school in Lincoln, Nebraska, which was four hours south of my hometown, but the parental freedom started about 10 minutes into the drive. I didn’t know anyone from my high school who was going to UNL, so I was paired up at random, with two girls, about halfway through the summer. I remember contacting them via telephone about a month and a half before school was to start. They were both from Nebraska. Courtney was from a small town, whose name escapes me, and Francis, was from Omaha. She had to be fun, right? She was from a big city. I remember being excited to hang with them.
Post initial meeting, this feeling never returned.
Francis was having a tough time and cried a lot. Her freedom was a mere 50-minute drive. She once told me that she was so sad because she missed her brother. The idea of this circled around my head like a boomerang before reentering my brain, and then, like hitting a wall of rain, fell flat. I also had a sibling two years older than me and I don’t ever remember being sad when she left. I felt excited, relieved, jealous, free, happy, joyous, but sad? Nope. Never.
Don’t get me wrong, my sister and I are great friends now, but at that age, I really wanted nothing to do with her and I’m certain the feelings were mutual. There was a saying in our family, it usually came out during fights between my sister and I and always from my mother. Something like, “you’ll love each other one day.” Funny, I don’t think either one of us expected that one to ring true, but sure enough. Come to find, she is one of the only people that truly understands and shares my sense of humor and, as I’ve most recently found, will gladly chime in when I want to sing the well wishes of Christmas text messages in the tone of the sender.
Anyway, back to my roommates.
Every morning at 6:30am, the alarm clock would blast its horn and Courtney would be up without a single smack of the snooze bar. Then, out the door in her pink robe, carrying her aqua colored plastic basket filled with toiletries going from tall to short. She may as well have been whistling a shiny tune on her way out the door. I always imagined her skipping down the hallway awkwardly in her showering flip-flops, then proclaiming to the other shower-takers, “Yay, another day of class!” just before clicking her heals in the air. Suddenly, eyeballs simultaneously would hit the ground, bouncing forward and landing at Courtney’s feet. They had rolled out of the heads of those showering behind the curtains. She was like a cheerleader for test taking and perfect attendance.
Then there was Francis.
She would set her alarm for 6:40am yep, a whole 10 minutes later — hit the snooze, get out of bed, grab her robe and basket of toiletries, but not before forgetting that she had hit the snooze bar. As the alarm blared, she scrambled over to shut it off, spilling toiletries out of her basket. Knocking things down as she stumbled to pick other things up a vicious cycle. Then, finally heading out the door towards the showers. Moments later, there would be a fumbling at the door; this would be Francis, forgetting something. This would also happen about two more times on any given morning.
Finally, the room would become dark and quiet again, but like the snooze bar, I knew I only had minutes. Courtney was like clockwork and she’d be back only too soon. They were like a theatrical performance, once one act would end, the other would begin, when all I was ever wishing for was a brief intermission.
Sara Palmer is a an improviser-writer-storyteller based in the Phoenix, Arizona, area. Share your ideas for her next blog in the comments below.