The Best Worst Decision I’ve Ever Made

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“What the fuck have I done?” I thought as I laid awake on my tiny twin bed staring at the ceiling of my dorm room. “What was I trying to prove? Who did I think I was? I am not adventurous, I am not brave. What.the.fuck.was.I.thinking?”

I waited three days for my new roommates to arrive and for 72 hours I chastised myself for the worst decision I had ever made; the soundtrack in my head a compilation of self doubt, anger and crippling loneliness. I’d only moved 300 kilometres away from home but as I laid awake in those ikea sheets, it might as well have been 3000. I’d left everything I knew behind in search of something I couldn’t quite put my finger on anymore. I looked at pictures of my friends back home, taped to my concrete walls, and I couldn’t remember a single reason why I thought attending the University of Calgary was a good idea. “You always have to be different don’t you?” I scolded myself, “you couldn’t just be happy with the status quo.”

Deciding to move away for university seemed like a great idea at the time. I spent a year at Grant MacEwan as a commuter student, not investing any real time there or meeting many new friends. It was a good year but I wanted more. I wanted something different. Calgary was close enough for visits but far enough to gain the independence I was craving. Away I went… applied, accepted, arrived. My little dream had become reality but now I was certain that it was actually a nightmare. (Looking back, it seems ridiculous, but those three nights were some of the longest in my life.)

Eventually my roommates moved in and I was so pleasantly surprised: we drank. we talked. we clicked. (Well 3 out of 4 of us anyway…) We bonded with our quirky neighbour across the hall and over the next three years we embarked on a wild ride together. I made strong, important relationships with my new friends, I navigated my way through university (including switching my major in a mad mid semester panic), and I gained the confidence I needed through my new found independence.

We moved from the safety of our apartment style dorm to a mouse infested duplex and we dreamed together for hours on end about our futures and the people we would become. Booze, books and boys, we learned many lessons in many different facets of life. We challenged each other’s biases and we bonded over our similarities. It felt like we were on the cusp of everything and yet at times “real life” seemed so far away, we couldn’t wait for it to come.

Time has a way of romanticizing the past and erasing the hard edges of a memory. Sure, there were tears and heartbreak, loneliness and anxiety but there was so much more laughter and compassion. I can’t help but look back on my time at the University of Calgary and be amazed at how three short years could have made such an impact on the person I have become and the path that I took to get here.

As I crossed the C-train bridge and headed home after dropping off my final essay, I stopped to take a moment and soak in the view. The mountains to my right, the downtown core and iconic Calgary Tower to my left, I reflected on the scared 19 year old girl lying in that twin bed furious at herself. “This was the best decision you’ve ever made” I thought to myself, my eyes brimming with tears of joy, “You did it, you really did it.” 

Roomies: where friends become family.

Roomies headed to Calgary Folk Fest

Today I read a post (which I thought was absolutely hilarious) about roommates and it really got me thinking… it feels so much more natural to tell a story about a bad roommate than a good one. “Good” stories just don’t seem as captivating! I can say with almost 100% certainty that you would rather read about the time one of my “not so great” roommates egged our other roommate’s bedroom (whom I was friends with) and lied about it than read about the time my roommates and I had an impromptu dance party and laughed so hard we almost peed. But today folks, I am going to write about the good. Oh no… I think I lost half of you right there didn’t I…

When you move in with a friend you never know what to expect, things could go sour in an instant. And to make matters worse for me, my university roomies have set the bar exceptionally high. But as I begin to pack my room up for yet another move (well actually that’s what I should be doing instead of writing this blog post) I can’t help but reminisce about this past year living downtown with my “new” roomie and what a blast we have had!

I will always remember with great happiness and hysterical laughter:

Nope sorry, we’re in Mexico tonight!

The time we “went to Mexico” because you were having a bad day… spring and summer patio wine… two person charades… paper bag face… and Sunday night walks in the park!

Patio wine time!

Having a roommate means getting a front row seat to someone else’s life and it also means that they get a front row seat to yours. You are there when they come home grumpy, angry, or wasted (often at 3 AM banging around in the kitchen trying to make Kraft Dinner or use the microwave). You are there when they come home excited and want to celebrate with wine on the patio (my favourite!). And most importantly, you are there when they come home upset, disappointed, or heartbroken. It is in these moments, if you’re REALLY lucky, that you turn from friends into family.

Now for my final thought… you had better come visit me on the South side… or else!

Do you have any great roommate stories?