When Edward Sasinowski ’05 arrived back from spending six FOOT days in the Catskills last Friday, he started looking out for his roommate — Michael Freedman-Aponte ’05.
The pair had written each other and left each other phone messages, but they hadn’t spoken — and they hadn’t seen each other.
This is the story of many, the story of college, the story of roommates. Nearly 1,300 freshmen came to Yale last Friday, and nearly every one of them greeted a roommate, suitemate or hallmate, also fresh and curious.
Sometimes they’re your best friends. And sometimes they’re not. Joseph Frenkel ’05 said yesterday that he was kind of disappointed that he and his suitemates hadn’t bonded yet.
“I don’t know if I would’ve wanted us to be best friends,” Frenkel said, “but it would be cool if we hung out a little or had a party.”
Frenkel, a New Haven native who wants to write for a humor magazine, lives with a swimmer, a runner and a cello player — all busy people, hanging out with their swimming friends, running friends, and cello friends.
And Frenkel’s roommate said their separate, busy lives are working out.
“I think it’s really up to the individual. We all get along well, which is really necessary,” said Frenkel’s swimmer roommate Dave Lange, who is from Birmingham, Mich. “I don’t think it’s really necessary for them to be best friends. … The most important thing is that you respect your roommate’s personal space.”
If nothing else — and sometimes they are almost nothing else — roommates are some of the first people you meet. Your parents meet them and leave you with them.
Sasinowski’s parents felt comfortable leaving their son partly because they had immediately liked his roommate. The Sasinowskis arrived before Ed was back from FOOT and headed over to his first-floor Vanderbilt room.
Freedman-Aponte, Ed’s new roommate, jumped out of bed at their knock.
He had been there a few days, after finishing up with the pre-orientation program, Cultural Connections. Throwing pants over his boxers, Freedman-Aponte greeted the Sasinowskis with a large smile and a handshake. He helped them move Ed’s boxes in.
Freedman-Aponte was still watching the Sasinowskis rearrange his and Ed’s small room, complete with a bunk bed, when Ed arrived.
The two paused for a short moment and looked at each other.
Freedman-Aponte and Sasinowski surprised each other — like many often do, the pair had fully developed inaccurate images of each other.
“I guess since he said he was going to Cultural Connections, I thought: international student,” said Sasinowski said of Freedman-Aponte, who is from Puerto Rico. “So, I was surprised he was so fluent in his English.”
Freedman-Aponte, too, was surprised by rower Sasinowski.
“I was expecting this big football player: 6’4″, 350 pounds,” Freedman-Aponte said of Philadelphia-native Sasinowski, who is 6’5″ but skinny, unlike the classic images of broad-shouldered football players.
As the boys finished unpacking last Friday, their parents sat by the windows and chatted gregariously.
Freedman-Aponte’s friend from Cultural Connections stopped by to make plans for that night. Sasinowski looked at his watch and remembered his FOOT group’s plans to meet up before the freshman dance.
All smiled, covering up the anxiety they would quietly admit was burning in their chests.
“It’s going through many of the freshmen’s minds: ‘This is for real, this is not vacation,'” said David Freedman, Freedman-Aponte’s father, who would soon leave town. “In other words, for many, ‘I’m not really going back home.'”