Living with anyone can be a challenge, and some more than others, but then there is a whole other class of roommate, the truly awful, boasting, vengeful, or stupid, and they can make your life hell. So, if you think you have it tough now, check out these circumstances from the dark side.
Dear J, My Nightmare Roommate
By Cathy Andrews
What I remember best is your deep laugh and your dark, honeyed voice—one of a devastatingly fierce and outspoken woman who no one was quick to forget. I was paralyzed with regret upon hearing the news that you were run over by a car while biking somewhere out in Southern California.
Out of respect, I will only refer to you by your first initial, J. We met exactly 11 years ago in a wooded college campus in Eugene, when I asked you to be my second dormitory roommate after you helped me scare off the first.
I must be honest. I only liked you half the time. At 18 years old, I still wasn’t equipped to deal with the world, much less to sleep three feet away from another person—until you forced me to move our beds together— and you drove me absolutely nuts. I’ve never met another girl who told so many lies. You stole my clothes, ran your mouth, and screamed at me if I came home too late.
Things took a nasty turn when, one evening, you jumped me outside while we were smoking cloves with whichever boys we’d laid claim to at the time. I must have insulted you. I remember you, straddled on top of me while I lay on the ground. I memorized your eyes while you punched me in the face and in the stomach.
“I’m going to kill you!” you yelled, and I believed it, having never been in a real fight. You were a short, compact, and street-smart Pacific Islander. Being a private school-reared, slowly starving 98 pounds, I didn’t stand a chance. After a few minutes, a female friend showed up and managed to pull you off of me before you gave me a second black eye.
Traumatized by rejection, the next night I drank myself half to death and ended up getting my stomach pumped at a nearby hospital. When authorities found out about the attack, I rejected their offer to force a restraining order, and moved to another dorm instead.
I missed you then like I do now. You and I were alike in ways that I could never wrap my head around. We were equally imaginative, and equally damaged beyond repair. The biggest difference between us was the manner in which you spoke openly of your childhood traumas— you were so frank and fearless. I stayed silent about my own pain until years later.
I respected you most for your honesty, and for that laugh, which warmed my heart in ways I cannot describe. You told me I was beautiful, which I’d never heard from another girl. I hope that one day, in another universe, I can tell you the same thing, because it was certainly true. And on an astral plane someplace in between, I now raise a glass to you, J, for teaching me how to be a friend.
By Erica Duvekot
Freshman year started off for me as it did every other freshman including meeting your roommate for the year. Prior to school starting, I filled out a short questionnaire about myself with dreams of meeting my new, college best friend. It was not what I hoped. She was plastic pretty, popular, outgoing, and flirty.
Everything I was not. But, opposites can be good, right? We got settled into our new college lives.
That’s when things really took a turn for the worse. She started boasting about a list she had typed up on her computer consisting of boys she liked and boys she “knew” liked her. I thought this was egotistical to say the least, but I just laughed about it in shock with everyone else. About two months into our roommateship, we clearly did not get along. Complete opposites, we could hardly stand to be in the same room with each other. After listening to her annoying, ditzy bragging about boys for months, I couldn’t take it anymore. I devised a plan.
Everyone had a small white board on the outside of their dorm room door. I drafted a note with my non-dominant hand professing a crush on her as a secret admirer. I wrote notes for about two weeks. It was driving her crazy! She turned into a mega beast in the dorm with an air of confidence a playboy bunny would have. Finally, I wrote another note saying her admirer would like to meet her at a specific time and place. She was so excited. She went for her date, only to be stood up. While it shut her up about the boys in the yard, the rest of the year was even worse.
I Don’t Belong Here
By Thomas Armand
Party, party, party! I could go all the way from Friday night on an LSD-fueled weed and booze adventure that might have cops or ex-girlfriends looking for my a*s, but come late Sunday morning I could always cram for Monday and score an A. Having weekended that way through most of high school, university was no exception. Weekdays, however, were a different matter.
I lived like a church mouse Monday through Thursday and learned quickly that most other freshman guys don’t. They were messy, loud, and stupid, pretty much 24/7, and I just couldn’t deal with it. The final straw came on a Tuesday at about 10 in the evening with my one roommate across the hall going at it with The Screamer (his girlfriend earned this nickname in the time-honored way), my other roomie had set off the smoke alarm again with his latest attempt at Top Ramen or something, and there were guys in the living room with a beer bong that I’m not sure any of us even knew.
Midway through my first term, I rented a room from a quiet little old lady by campus, letting her know that I sometimes “stayed with my parents over the weekend.” After awhile she got tired of having a freshman kid in her house and pawned me off on one of her friends, a quiet freakish Buddhist scientist with a penchant for amazing conversation—I stayed there the rest of the way through school, and we’re still friends.
By Abbie Tumbleson
A Different Kind of College Hell
By Abbie Tumbleson
While my story didn’t take place during freshman year, it changed my life forever—that much I know.
I did the whole drinking thing my freshman year. I think the majority of past, present, and future college students have done the same, are doing the same, and will end up doing the same. But that’s not what this story is about. Those college drinking stories take up a different part of my higher-education experience.
This story is about how I learned to grieve, the experience of losing someone close to me, and how I’ve learned to live with grief.
My “hell” story happened during my junior year of college, during the damp, bleak New England winter. My father died four days short of his 59th birthday. His longtime battle with alcoholism came to an abrupt end. My mother called to tell me the news—she was barely able to get out whole words and sentences.
My dad and I had a conflicted relationship, and I missed his last phone call to me just a few days before his passing on Feb. 17, 2009.
I changed in the months following his death. I wanted to sleep, but developed a bad case of insomnia. I wanted to write beautiful poems in my creative writing classes, but all that would come to mind were memories of my father. Nightmares included visions of him sitting, passed out, on the couch in the living room of my childhood home, as blue as ocean water and as still as death, as I read to him from the pages of his favorite books.
But with the help of grief counseling, good friends, and running on nights of too little sleep, I made it through the rest of my junior year, and through the rest of college.
I’m able to remember some of the good things about my dad and I’ve come to realize that, as crappy as it is, we all have to succumb to grief and vulnerability in life. Just remember to keep on keeping on, whether it’s during freshman year or after the unexpected death of your father.