In college I had three roommates. We laughed, fought, studied, helped each other through heartbreaks, and became as close as a family. Now I’m reliving those days, jungle-style. When we left Hawaii a couple of months ago, we left our place in the hands of my 22-year old stepdaughter. Since she collects friends the way others collect shoes, she soon invited three other young women to join her; they’re all singers and guitar or ukulele players and want to make music together. We're back for a few weeks, surrounded by girl power. Even though these girls are living in the jungle, off the grid, existing on rice and coconuts, some things never change.
Clothes sharing. These days, I rarely borrow someone else's clothes. I know what suits me, what fits me, and what doesn't. Back then, it was all about exploration and trying on identities. And that's how it is for these girls. I can't keep track of what belongs to whom. Neither can they. It's a constant stream of "where's the black dress" and "who had my rainbow socks last?" and “that top looks SO much better on you.”
Endless nights. Day-um, these girls can stay up late! They head out at 10pm, and maybe make it back by dawn. Or decide to sleep wherever they happen to be. Luckily, none of them likes to drink, or I’d worry. But they love to put together crazy outfits and dance and sing and go on night swims and have crazy Hawaiian adventures like hiking across lava fields under the full moon.
Lack of money. There’s always one girl who has a little more than the others, but generally none of them ever has enough. They’re not here to work jobs, they’re here to practice their music and enjoy their freedom before real life swallows them up. But they’re thrifty and careful, for the most part. They’ll rent a movie for $1 at Redbox, but not for $2.50 at the video store. I remember those days of constant worry about every penny – and how great it felt to finally get a job and have steady money coming in.
Relationships. Oh, the hours spent dissecting the tiniest cryptic comment from a boy. So far there’s been a pregnancy scare, several crushes, the angst of a long-distance relationship and a kaleidoscope of rifts among the girls. One doesn’t cook enough; another skimps on the cleaning. One is a more accomplished musician than the others and gets tired of explaining what B flat is. They always patch it up, because they love each other dearly. But it makes for constant drama.
Drama. I mentioned the drama, right? It’s better than a soap opera here. Four wannabe girl singers surviving in a Hawaiian jungle. That would make a good reality show, don’t you think? I’m definitely enjoying my front row seat. But mostly, I'm relieved that I'm grown up now. My old roommates and I are still friends, minus the drama. I save that for my books.
Do you have happy memories from the early, penniless days of your life? Friends who become closer than sisters, no matter where you happened to be?