In 1436


I woke up to the sound of my roommates computer humming and I heard movement as she packed the last of her things.

And I needed to use the bathroom.

While sitting in the bathroom that I shared with her and two others (who live in the room next door) for the past school year I realized, this would be the last night I would hear the hum of her computer as she was up once again playing games because she was having trouble sleeping. No more waking up in the middle of the night because my bladder dictated I had to go, see her up, and worry about how little sleep she gets.

I was really going to miss her.

When I first met Tawny, it was online after our rooms had been assigned. She messaged me introducing herself and explained her habits to me (a fellow introvert).  She wasn’t you typical college student, she was a little older and I was very happy to learn that. Not a crazy 18 year old who is all hyped up because she is living away from her parents for the first time. Thank God.

I told her that I too was older, just a year younger than her. I Mentioned that I can’t stand the cold, I tend to become easily sick, and that I was a light sleeper. I had already come up with the idea of a curtain of sorts so that way when she is on the computer because she is having trouble sleeping it wouldn’t wake me up and it would give me a little nook of my own. Help me feel that I was in my own space.

After that we concluded our conversation online.

I was still really nervous. I have had past roommate experiences. From messy to crazy, they were not always enjoyable. My last roommate experience left me terrified.

I remember arriving to move in day. I told my mom that we should get there early, she gave me grief about it, but she totally thanked me afterwards as we saw all the traffic from my window. Sadly, I don’t have a lot of pictures from that day, I was too tired and nervous.

My roommate didn’t arrive right away. I took the bed farthest from the door since I was the lighter sleeper and I knew she tended to stay up longer. When she finally did show up I was worried, I am always worried when I meet new people.

I remember us hanging out together for the first time. It was for Torch Night, it is supposed to be a night where the Freshman head to a location to have the Torch passed onto them. I wanted to go, but I wasn’t a Freshman, I was just a transfer student.

My mom told me I had every right to go, it was my first year there, I had worked hard. I had earned. I invited my roommate along and she was down for it, especially since there was free food also for the freshman beforehand. When I told her what my mom said, she agreed with my mom and she liked my mom right away.  We were both new students and it was our first year at the University of Tennessee. Even though we weren’t freshman hour wise, we were freshman when it came to the UT experience.

We went to Torch night together, I was of course nervous and feeling out of place among all the Freshman. Many hadn’t lived on their own yet, many have yet to screw up really hard, many haven’t lived. You could tell they were excited and you could tell they were nervous. They were rowdy, already excited because they had supposedly just met their best friend forever, and I knew that most of them had no idea what they were getting into.

At Torch Night

At Torch Night in August

As we sat down in Thompson Boiling Arena It felt weird hearing about the Freshman, all talking about partying (been there, done that- yes even at their age), so excited for the first football game, and others just glad to be away from their parents. There were many speeches at Torch Night. The football team and the new coach came out along with some members of the Pride of the Southland Marching Band, and the cheerleaders too. All to get us pumped up with Tennessee spirit.

At Torch Night itself I had a good time with my roommate. I really don’t remember much from that night, other than laughing at being called a freshman (if they only knew), said to be of the graduating class of 2017 (I will probably be graduating a year earlier), and there was something else, but I honestly can’t remember.

I was still nervous though, my roommate seemed very chill, laid back. With her tattoos and piercings I was worried. Would she be like other people she met and thought that this was a waste of time. What does she think of me with my lack of tattoos, regular piercings, and a girl with braces. Did I mention that I am girly and pink is my favorite color? Seems silly, but I was worried, would my roommate with different political views and no real religious views that I could gather at that time. How would she deal with a catholic independent but conservative girly girl who acts like a 5 year old some time? Would she sterotype me and pin me down, even though I didn’t get along or agree with many of the conservatives I had met simply for many reasons too long to get into in this post. Let us just say I didn’t agree with everything they thought either.

I realize now that she too was nervous. Probably worried about how we would get along. What would happen, etc.

Looking back now, my worries were unfounded.

I don’t recall us ever getting mad at each other or having a fight. Sounds really weird, but if either of us ever had an issue we talked it out. Whether it was the heating/air conditioning, lights at night, etc. Not many issues like that came up.

We were both introverted, sometimes I wonder who would win in the introvert contest, so we didn’t always talk a lot at the end of the day. I would talk to her though a great deal at random times. I’m used to just talking and interacting with the people I lived with. I always hoped I wasn’t bothering her, I tried to make sure I wasn’t.

When we would have long conversations, they were LONG! They were great we would spend hours talking sometimes till 2 in the morning, which for the first semester was a bad idea since I had early morning classes. But they were worth it.

We shared our food, tea, and medicine. I became Dr. Vanek to her thanks to all my experience with getting sick, and my large supply of over the counter medicine from being sick so often I helped her when I could. And she helped me in return.

For me the biggest sign that she was a great person was not by how understanding she was when I needed to turn down the AC during the summer and turn up the heat in the winter. No, the biggest sign was when I mentioned to her that I suffered depression and anxiety. I told her I was finally going on medication and that I though I should mention it to her because A.) she lives with me, B.) I don’t know how I will react with the medication so if for some reason if I act mean/nasty/crazy during this experience that is why so be warned ahead of time, and C.) I was scared out of my mind. Saying all of this while crying and being totally scared of being judged. What does she do?

She just hugs me, says that she is there to listen, and thinks that it is brave that I am taking that step. No judging, no thinking I am crazy, no scared of me, and I don’t think she ran to our RA requesting a new roommate. I was somewhat shocked and very touched by that moment. Slightly tearing up from remembering that.

Although I’m not sure if you would say we are the best of friends(I still have trouble figuring out where I am friendship level wise with others), I do consider her to be important in my life. We didn’t go everywhere together, we weren’t in the same clubs, and we don’t have the same major. I do consider her my friend and having her for a roommate was a very comfortable and pleasant experience.

I was able to rant to her, she listened. We had long conversations without judgement, sometime we surprised each other. We watched scifi movies together.  We ate food, went to the occasional bar, had nap marathons (yes nap marathons), etc. That may not seem like we did much together and if I made a list of every single little thing, it may not seem like a big deal to you. Every time I hung out with Tawny, everytime I talked with her, I really enjoyed myself. I was hanging out with a great person.

This may not sound magical to you or a like one of those wonderful  roommate stories, but to me this is the end of my roommate experience with Tawny. I am really going to miss her.

We went out together with some of the other girls on our floor recently to Cheesecake Factory in the middle of finals week. We did this so that way we would have a chance to eat together before people leaved. The food was so Yummy! My roommate and I went separately since the one persons car can’t handle tall people. Once I arrived in the other car, I was lucky enough to be able to sit next to Tawny to take a picture with her and talk with her.


At Cheesecake Factory in May

We all talked and ate, I could tell we were all feeling the weight of finals still. We all exchanged stories from throughout the year, one of them involving the time I woke up thinking I was in the room alone and that there was a creepy person by my bed (it was only a combination of  having just woken up from a weird dream involving creepy person by my bed, the curtain by my bed, the moonlight from the blinds hitting the curtain, and the air coming from the heating/conditioning unit moving said curtain). So, I said really loudly (while forgetting that I am in the dorm), “Get out of my room!” Immediately after saying this I realized I was in the dorm room, it was just a dream, and that my roommate was in bed asleep. I was terrified that I had woken her up. I decided to mention it to her in the morning and apologize if I did.

Turns out she did hear me say this, and her first though was (and she wanted to say) , “I can’t though” confused and laughing to herself at the same time. She remembered though that sometimes I talked in my sleep (she says I mostly just mumble), she figured this was just one of those times. She was able to get back to sleep with ease since she said she was half asleep and half awake. I’m glad she can look back at the moment and laugh.

There were many moments like this (not me talking loudly in my sleep) that may seem so insignificant, but were in fact part of what made this roommate experience wonderful.

Even though I went home some weekends because I just needed to escape campus and people for the safety of my own room (introverts everywhere, you understand this), even though I had my boyfriend over many times to be with me because I needed someone to help comfort me while I was going through another episode of anxiety and depression (sometimes at the same time, other times separate), and even though I was often in my head trying to keep my life together pre-medication and on medication; Tawny has been a great roommate.

I only wish I could spend more time with my roommate.

I only hope I have been a good roommate in return.

As I sit here in my dorm bed while Tawny is at the desk, her computer humming because she is playing games and using her bed sheet as a curtain, hiding the light because she is being courteous since she knows I am a sensitive sleeper. I can’t help but feel really sad.

In worry of coming across as a sap and almost silly, I really will miss Tawny. A part of me does want to cry over this change.

I will miss the fact that she is shorter than me, her head only coming up to my boobs when we hug. I will miss out conversations, her badass tattoos and piercings. I will miss our nap marathons that we will have, or inspire each other to have. I will miss talking about everything with her from geeky things to issues involving politics and religion.

You wouldn’t think upon first meeting us that we could get along, you think we were totally different personality looking at our facebook page. The crazy and wonderful thing is, we were able to be open with each other and we listened.  We are a lot more alike than you would think.

I appreciate and felt honored every time she opened up and shared a personal story with me. I am inspired by what she has told me. I am really glad I met her and had her for a roommate. I can’t say that enough.

We have exchanged addresses so that we can keep in contact, she won’t be able to return to the University of Tennessee. She is an out of state student and if you think tuition is ridiculous for those who live in state, imagine out of state (and they don’t offer as many scholarships for those students either- its harder when you are an older transfer student).  She mentioned to me she plans on visiting within a year, I told her she better and that I was expecting her too. She said it will happen.

I really hope that I will be able to visit her and she will be able to come back here.

Thank you Tawny. Thank you for being my roommate this past school year. Thank you for being understanding, thank you for being great. Thank you for being you.

I will Miss You. I will Miss sharing 1436 of Morrill Hall with you.

Stay Badass my friend.


3 thoughts on “In 1436

  1. Pingback: A Confession: I Live with Depression & Anxiety |

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