On my way home Dina’s funeral Sunday, I had a layover in the city where my college roommate lives. We’ve talked on the phone and e-mailed, but haven’t seen each other in over twenty, maybe twenty-five years.
I first met Linda Ann when we were six or seven and attended the same dance school; let me amend that–the only dance school in our county. We lived in different towns about twenty miles apart, and I’m guessing we were six or seven. I don’t think we were in the same dance class, but we did recitals together and were aware of the other’s existence. Our paths next crossed during a high school typing tournament (not much to do in rural Alabama counties).
The summer after I graduated from high school (1973) I accompanied my former dance teacher and sixteen of her students to New York City for three weeks of jam-packed activities. The morning after I arrived home, I was awakened by an early morning phone call (probably 10 a.m.).
The conversation went something like this:
“Hi, Kay. This is Linda.”
“Hi, Linda.” Linda who? The only Linda I could think of was a girl in my graduating class and I could think of no reason she’d call me.
Linda continued, “I guess you know we’re both going to the same college, and I was wondering if you wanted to be roommates.”
“Sure, that sounds good.” I’d been a little antsy over who I’d room with and even though I wasn’t 100% sure I knew to whom I spoke, she sought me out. It had to be better than pot luck. Actually, I did know Linda Ann and I were going to the same college, but I was severely sleep deprived and it took a few seconds minutes to connect the dots.
As it turns out it was a great fit. We lived together our first two years of college. We had private rooms our third year because we both crammed a four year degree in three years. Looking back, WHY would we do that??? Were we crazy???
Our room those first two years was a little larger than a breadbox, but not much. It had two “sofas” that pulled out into twin beds. They were permanently connected to the walls and parallel to each other. Now that I think about it, all of the furniture in that dorm was anchored, so there was no rearranging it. Linda’s dad made us wooden bookcases (painted yellow) that we somehow attached to the shelf on top of flip-up yellow storage bins which served as the back of our sofas. We each had a desk with a hutch and our own closet with a luggage size space above it.
The community bath was down the hall and the pay phone was right outside our door. We splurged and had a private line installed in our room–we anticipated being very popular. We put a small refrigerator between the desks and as I recall, there was next to zero room to walk when the beds were pulled out.
When we finally arrived at school our freshman year, we went to Penny’s (or maybe Sears) and got matching bedspreads. They were orange and yellow, a floral print, I think. Linda was taller than me, but we were close enough to the same size (then) we could share some of our clothes. We both tried out for and made the elite eight-member dance team called “The Huntingdon Honeys” so we spent even more time together at rehearsals and performances (mostly basketball games). Even so, we didn’t take a lot of classes together. The only one I can recall was Romantic Poets and neither of us found much romance in the poems of Shelley, Keats, Wordsworth, Byron, Coleridge and certainly not in the dark poems of Blake. But we both aced the class.
Early on we formed a pack–anything discussed in room 223 remained between the two of us. We shared tears, successes, a few failures, gossip (I know you’re shocked), hopes, dreams and secrets. Even now, when we disclose something in confidence, we evoke room 223. Although there were plenty of antics, I can’t blog about them. Just think two cute, smart, small-town girls, away from home for the first time, in the seventy’s, and you’ll get a close enough picture.
Last Sunday, I left the secured area of the airport and met Linda in the lobby. After a five-minute hug, we talked non-stop for 1 ½ hours. The people around us probably thought we were drunk or having seizures as we relived memories and got caught up with each other’s life. At times we were laughing so hard we couldn’t catch our breaths.
Linda Ann and me
The sudden death of a friend way too young to die and the reuniting with my college roommate reinforced for me how important long-time friendships are. I challenge you to pick up the phone and call someone you’ve not seen in over ten years. In fact, I challenge you to do this once a month for the next year. Let us know in comments who you’re going to call first. I’m going to make these calls. How about you?