College is an unforgettable, life-altering experience for most of us. It's a bumpy ride and you come out as a brand-new person by the end you graduate.
I felt a little anxious when I first stepped into my slightly dusty and cramped dorm room. My father was standing right by the door while my mother started unpacking my stuff. While I constantly asked her to stop doing that, but you know mothers. She simply ignored me.
I have replayed this moment in my head for about a thousand times. I couldn't wait to leave home and come to college, the thought of being able to do anything without my parents constantly nagging and navigating me, to be able to lead a day without fighting with my sister was so enticing. But, standing there in my dorm room, ready to receive all that, it didn’t feel right at all.
I felt just the opposite; anxious, stressed and uncomfortable.
I think I overheard my mom sobbing in the car, but I remained quiet. That seemed to be the right thing to do. I just didn't want to acknowledge that I was feeling the same. But, now I know that it was not the right thing to do. I acted like a typical teenager too proud to give in to my feelings. If only I could go back in time, I would have held my mother's hand and told her, "I will miss you too, mom.”
As we were unpacking, there was a knock on the door and two lanky figures approached us. My eye immediately caught the one with the glasses, who looked a little lost and cheeky and had a nervous smile on her face. I smiled back and asked her if she was assigned to this room. Well, that cheeky girl turned out to be my roommate for next four years of college.
I have always hated goodbyes. It is just one of those moments where you have to part with someone, and you are just not ready to let go. I felt a little suffocated and embarrassed as both my parents hugged me tight right in front of our car and a bunch of pesky teenagers. After an episode of sobbing and comforting, it was time for them to leave. This is one of those moments that I would never forget. As I stood there and watched the car leave, I literally felt handicapped and my heart was pounding so fast that I could almost hear it. It felt like a minor heart attack. I just realized that I was completely on my own from now on.
I came back to my room and I just carelessly threw my phone on the bedside table. I was tired, drained physically and emotionally. I just wanted to get through the day.
I felt a slight tinge of pain in my head as I opened my eyes. It was dark outside. I almost moaned as I got up. Looking across the room, I saw my roommate coming out of the shower. She said, "You dozed off. Are you all right?". I said, "Yeah, I am fine. Just a little hungry and I also have a headache." She handed me a juice box. I was starving and didn't say no to the juice box. Sipping on the juice, I took a closer look at her. She looked a little older for her age, had pretty hair and kind eyes. Her spectacles made her look a little geeky. While I was lost in my cloud of judgment, she asked me if I wanted to go outside for a walk and grab something to eat.
We just grabbed two sandwiches and left the cafeteria as soon as possible. The snarly eyes of the seniors made us even more uncomfortable and we already had enough drama for the day. We walked around the campus grounds looking for a quiet place to sit. Finally, we found a spot near the basketball court. We nibbled on our sandwiches as we watched the players practicing on the court. I have never been good with small talks. Something about her told me, neither was she. We sat there quietly and I was honestly starting to feel a little uncomfortable with the absurd silence between us. While I was staring point blank at the last bite of sandwich in my hand, she said, "Do you want to see a picture of my mom?"
I was a little startled. Considering the fact that we hardly knew anything about each other, it was a little weird. But, I said, "Yeah, sure". She tapped the power button on her phone, and there was this screensaver of a kind looking lady with beautiful hair. I said, "Wow. You look just like your mom." She smiled and said," I just miss her, you know. I miss her every day but today it feels different". Saying this she turned and walked a few steps away from me. I was taken aback. I was speechless and didn't know how to react. I just went near her and held her hand tight.
I couldn't sleep. I missed home and the way this day turned out to be made me restless. I glanced at my roommate. She was sleeping peacefully and even snoring a little. I went out of the room and called my mom,
"Hello, mom. Are you awake?'
"Yes, honey. What's the matter?"
“Nothing. I just wanted to talk to you.
I love you, mom"
"I love you too, honey”
Hearing that familiar voice just made me feel so much better. I thought I was having a hard day, but considering what my roommate was going through, it was nothing. The experience of this whole day just made me realize how lucky I was and that I should be more grateful for what I have. I felt ready for a fresh start. At that moment, I didn't have the faintest idea about life in college or the fact that I would become best friends with my roommate and end up being her Maid of Honor. But, it was a good start, I was in a self-realization zone.
It’s been 25 years and still, every bit of that day is fresh in my mind.
“Anna, are you ready to go?” It was a big day for her, my daughter’s first day as a college freshman.
“Yes, mom.”And please don’t hug me and embarrass me in front of everyone in college.”
I felt a little flustered with this response from her, but I didn’t say anything. I just realized how my mother must have felt when she was dealing with me as a teenager. I knew that Anna would realize, but only at her own pace and that no matter what I say, it won’t change her behavior.
Later that night, I got a call and there was this familiar voice on the other side saying, “Mom, I love you.” My heart just skipped a bit.
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