It must have started on a sunny Saturday morning last semester, when Zoe rolled over and stuck a hand out of her covers to wave sleepily at me from across the room. We were in our trial period as roommates — both of us were silently nervous that our third year of friendship would slowly deteriorate under the burden of sharing a double — but we laughed and chatted as Zoe got ready for brunch and I worked on a fiction piece ten feet away at my desk.
Or maybe it started on a brisk, rainy day a year before that, when Zoe knocked on the door of my 8-by-10-foot single and asked to sit on the folded pink chair behind my door. We were just neighbors then, side-by-side in identical singles, joking about drilling a hole in the wall so we could talk without leaving our rooms. As she unfolded the round chair, I offered her chocolate — Kit Kats, Snickers, a fancy salted caramel bar — from my not-so-secret stash. Back then, she still had the willpower to turn it down (“I don’t understand how you can eat so much chocolate, Catherine!”), and we each worked on our different assignments until one of us had to go to dinner. We relived that same moment dozens of times over the course of the year, happy to type into the silence together.
When it became apparent in our sophomore spring that the only feasible living conformation for our junior year suite would require me and Zoe to take the double, we were nervous. Our sleep schedules were often four hours apart. I liked the room cold, she liked it warm. I snacked too much, and Zoe was afraid my habit would catch on. Well, she was right about the last point — after a semester of living together, I think she eats more chocolate than ever (but that might be because I’ve purposely started hoarding her favorite kinds: Milky Ways and Hershey Kisses). But we share more than just snacks. We have “bathroom parties,” which are really just the two of us brushing our teeth and (sometimes) flossing — and when both of us are done, we walk back to the double together. We eat unscheduled dinners together. We listen to “Feel It Still” and “Bad Liar” together. She once watched “A Christmas Prince” without headphones so I could react to the ridiculously cheesy lines with her as I worked at my desk.
I could go on and on. We’ve stayed up chatting into the darkness of our double and cried tears of laughter from talking to the Echo Dot. We’ve distracted and cheered on and made space for each other, and that’s why it doesn’t really matter when it started — “it” being the realization that my life is better because of Zoe, and I hope that her life is better because of me.
Isn’t that the college ideal? The American Dream? The path to nirvana, to self-actualization? (I’ve taken this too far, which I hope Zoe will find amusing when she reads this because really that’s all I have in my life sometimes. Making her laugh, that is.)
For those of you tired of my bragging, I’ll stop. But allow me to emphasize just two things: First, the myth that good friends should never room together is false. Going into my sophomore year, I thought that nothing would be better than living in a single — total control over the temperature and sweet solitude, punctuated only by my active decision to invite people over — but it turns out that living with someone who cares about me is even better. I have someone who laughs at tweets with me and brushes her teeth with me and misses me when I’m not home. And even better, we know each other well enough that we don’t mind chatting with our parents while the other is in the room (if you’re reading this: Hi, Keith and Denise!).
And second, it’s all about gratitude. I am thankful every day that I’ve had the chance to live with one of my best friends, and I know that Zoe feels the same. I also know that this lifestyle won’t go on forever — but luckily, some things, like my promise to come to her wedding (even if I’ve moved to China or Alaska by then), are eternal. So, in the midst of midterm season and in anticipation of everyone’s upcoming housing draws: Be accepting, caring, and kind to your friends—and most of all, be open with your gratitude.
But hey — don’t all of you write opinion columns about it, or else Zoe won’t feel as special about this one.
Catherine Yang is a junior in Trumbull College. Her column runs monthly. Contact her at email@example.com .