Part Two of the "Lasts" series.
For Part One click here.
Freshman year of college at Chapman University was magical. Magical.
There was hard stuff for sure, some intensely hard stuff actually, but that’s not what I remember when I think of the phrase “freshman year.”
To me, the phrase “freshman year” is defined by fellowship, a constantly available shoulder to cry on and a friend to laugh with. I think of it as free time filled up by prayers in the hallway, group walks over to the cafeteria for breakfast and lunch and dinner. A year of Christian girls all placed by God on one magical floor - 4th floor Pralle - all devoted to Jesus and a pure lifestyle.
And a room friend I will never forget. Three weeks into the first semester, we hadn’t really talked too in depth. I mean, we lived together and we liked each other, but hadn’t yet gotten past the superficial. And then one day (I don’t remember how it happened) she and I had our first heart-to-heart. We talked about how hard the transition into college was. We talked about the making of new friends. And that night, we decided to NOT be roommates. We decided to be room friends.
I loved living with her. I was a morning person. She was a night owl. We both liked our quiet space but we loved to share our hearts. We both wore a size 10 shoe. (ahem, still do) We were both listeners and encouragers so we both felt safe with each other to share and pray and cry. And oh, we could cry together. And be crazy. Who else would let me wake her up dancing like a mad woman to 80’s music?
Eventually, yet all too soon, the last week of school came. For the most part, we were all stoked! Summer was finally here!! But amidst the rush of finals and late-night, last-minute studying, there was a misty cloud of dread wisping over us. We all felt it. Freshman year is almost over. Will it be the same next year?
Last Day of school. Exhausted. One of the girls and I had a music history final which had robbed us of sanity for the few days leading up to it. We took the test, high-fived each other with as much energy as we could muster, grabbed some food in the caf, and ran to our rooms to finish our packing and clean them completely before we turned in our keys. When we were done all us girls were spending a beach weekend together. The faster we were done cleaning, the sooner vacation came!
My room friend and I cleaned our room together. We both planned on being back next year. Same floor, same room, same room friend. We zoomed around our room, sweat until we were dripping, and talked about the past year with smiles.
When we were done, we all met down in the parking garage to pile into the car and head to the beach. My room friend couldn't come that night because of a prior engagement and was going to meet us down there the next day.
I went to give her a hug. Like always. To say goodbye.
And then, it HIT me. It hit me hard and pierced me straight to my core.
It. Was. Over.
I held her and cried. We were going to live together again, what was the problem? I was going to spend time with all my girls at the beach relaxing instead of studying, why was I crying?
Perhaps my spirit knew before my mind did. But I instantly knew that nothing would be the same after this weekend.
It ended up that my room friend and I couldn’t live together the next year. She was offered an RA position and was thrilled for the opportunity. And I was genuinely thrilled for her.
One of the girls felt called to go to Bible College and for the next year she was across the globe studying abroad.
Two of our girls left our circle of friends when they joined a sorority.
I met my husband that summer and was dating him all of sophomore year and married him the following summer.
We had different schedules sophomore year. And different rooms (except I did get the pleasure of living with another one of the girls whom I affectionately titled Room Cat).
When sophomore started, we were all a little sad. We were trying to recreate freshman year and it left us all frustrated. We had to learn to move on and embrace the season in front of us.
Whenever it comes to remembrance, the last day of freshman year leaves me with a smile. It’s like the perfect, bittersweet ending of a lovely, heartwarming book. A happy ending without being syrupy sweet.
I mean, what’s a better way to end the book of “Freshman Year,” then the last paragraph being,
“I held my room friend tight, tears coming out of nowhere, my spirit knowing before my mind that things would never be the same. She squeezed me and told me she loved me and that she’d see me tomorrow. We locked eyes with our look of "knowing" and I smiled as a tear slipped down my cheek. With a full heart, I crawled into the car full of my girls, the ones who I had shared the countless precious moments of this precious year, and together we headed down the open highway, singing and laughing on the way to beach to celebrate our year.”