On weekend afternoons in cafes over lattes or weeknights over drinks during the semester, I’d often put lecture notes aside to share my half-joke revelation about how to best savor time at Harvard: books, I declared, would always be here, but the electricity of connection between people around us is only now.
Many of my books (with introductions and conclusions colorfully annotated, pages of body paragraphs sadly black and white, and an occasional pencil underline on a page referenced in section) could have come home with me for winter break. But lug the books home I did not. They remain on my shelf, and they won’t be going anywhere without me.
My current roommates, however, may indeed be going places. Being away allowed me to glimpse the scope of this potential loss. One of my roommates, Tessa, went to high school with me. The other, Hannah, spent part of her gap year in my neighborhood. I was lucky enough to see them a few times during our separation, but this only confirmed how much giddier, safer, and fuller I felt in their presences.
One Thursday morning after a night that left me feeling unsettled, I texted Hannah that I missed her, and she asked me what I missed. At first, I thought it was a silly question, the kind a long distance couple might ask.
But while thinking about my answer, I realized I was glad she’d asked. Remembering and recounting all the things I love about what I now call home (I have to correct myself around my parents) succesfully distracted me from the missing-something feeling that had overcome me at what I had called home for 19 years.
Cuddling, talking out loud about all the things that go through my head and feel like a big deal until I say them, I typed eagerly, listening to your wisdom, sharing warmth and chocolate.
She missed those things too. And I miss waking up to you in the morning and seeing your smile every day and your feet.
Less than a week later, I sat at dinner on my last night before returning to life in our fifth-floor wonderland. My mom was in the bathroom, and I peeked at my phone to find a slew of texts from Tessa.
YOU COME TOMORROW!
1) I might not let you go, this single woman life is getting lonely
2) I had a nightmare about a mouse last night
3) I miss you!
4) I should probably clean up all them clothes on the floor since I haven’t felt the need.
I replied with the thoughts spilling more quickly than the fingers would comply.
I’M OBSESSED WITH YOU
Actually 2 is that we can absolutely cuddle when you have nightmares
And 4 is that there is no need for you to clean up your clothes from the floor as long as you aren’t wearing any
In the coming months, we will share both lattes and lecture notes. Books will sit on our shelves, in our over-stuffed backpacks, and on the tables and couches between us as we take too many breaks, sharing fun facts we’ve just read, things that go through our heads that feel like a big deal until we say them, blankets, dreams, and various iterations of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate.