Dear roommate, from a graduating senior

Dear roommate,

I still refer to you as “my roommate” to other people even though we haven’t been roommates for the past year; my inability to let go of this naming is perhaps an inability to let go of the phrase’s specific intimacies that “friend” doesn’t capture. Nearly every night for two years, we’d brush our teeth and wash our faces in the FloMo and Ng bathrooms, we’d get up at 7 a.m., or 7:30 a.m. or 7:55 a.m. to get breakfast. The promise that I would see you at the end of every day comforted me. 

I remember the first time I took an afternoon nap in our one-room Cardenal double, and you got up from your desk and turned off the overhead lights. Though in retrospect, this is embarrassing to admit, I teared up. In that moment, I truly believed that you were a karmic, opposite force sent to me to amend my shit roommate in high school. Today, I’m grateful for whichever one of us had the courage to ask the other to be roommates while we were still online friends during our freshman year. 

But then again, the word “roommates” doesn’t capture the extent to which our time together has defined the word “friendship” for me — going far beyond what I imagined the word could possibly contain. Our friendship means routine: debriefing each other about our days at breakfast, shit-talking all the annoying people in our classes at lunch, watching “Love Island” or “The Great British Baking Show” or “You” or “Abbott Elementary.” Our friendship has witnessed us being dumb together: running through the Meyer Green sprinklers drunk, riding the Caltrain in the wrong direction and missing half of “Howl’s Moving Castle,” reaffirming each other’s sometimes ridiculous, sometimes controversial opinions. I experienced the best parts of my life in our friendship: hiking a trail in SF together and being literally blown away by the wind; staying over with you for Christmas and eating pozoles for the first time; going to the aquarium, visiting LACMA, freezing in Yosemite, driving to CVS to get more bleach because we had run out (perhaps the most spontaneous thing we’ve done in a while). 

In my “Dear roommate” essay to get into Stanford, I asked you about your pet preferences and listed all the pets that I’ve owned (everything except for a cat and dog). I now know that you like slightly fucked-up looking chihuahuas and your favorite birds are crows. I also told you that my shelves were going to be full of books that I haven’t read (still very true), but now they contain books that you’ve gifted me: a beautiful copy of “Wuthering Heights” and a lesser-known Murakami. I warned you about my massive soundtrack playlist that I use to study, now even longer after we’ve watched so many movies and TV shows together. 

Every place in Stanford (and even outside Stanford) I now experience as a continuum of our collective time spent together. Walking around Main Quad, I remember the first day we met each other in real life, and tried to figure out all the different buildings that our classes were in. In front of MemChu, we took silly, motion-blurred pictures on one of our walks at night. Those elevated tables next to the window in Wilbur have seen us gossip, and eat the spinach apple salad with our pho more times than I can remember. Our table at Casper, fittingly, was replaced with couches last year when you left for study abroad. As Proust wrote, “These places we have known do not belong only to the world of space on which we map them for our convenience. They were only a thin slice, held between the contiguous impressions that composed our life at that time.” 

I remember reading that in the Aymara language, the future is represented as behind us, and our past, memories and histories are stretched out in front. After we graduate and begin the rest of our lives, I can see all the moments we’ve spent, and you told me, while freezing in Sequoia two weeks ago, that you’re not afraid of being apart because we grew up together, and now constituted each other’s makeup. We find the same jokes funny, we laugh and stop laughing and start laughing at the same time, we’ve shared music and books and media but our Spotify blends remain a 77% similarity. So much of what I value I have learned from you, and I could’ve never imagined a better roommate.