I got a thank you note the other day. It was for a college graduation gift. I gave the young man a neon bar sign of his college’s mascot. So yeah, it was a pretty awesome gift. And, following protocol, he sent a Thank You.
When my son was a senior in high school he’d chosen his college and picked the dorm. All that was left was the roommate.
Roommate selection opened the second Tuesday of March. Students were able to go to the dorm floor they wanted and find an open bed, kind of like picking your seat in an airplane, only a longer commitment and possibly less leg room.
We concentrated on the rooms with one opening. That way we could peek before we purchased. With two browser windows open, we read the name of the person who’d claimed the first bed, and then stalked him on Facebook. Our first search was a match. The young man listed the right college, and then his status (remember when Facebook had statuses?) Yo. What up B&^%ches? So, not him.
We went through most of the open rooms in about twenty minutes, rejecting young men for myriad reasons. Hometown’s too close to the college. They’ll leave too often. Hometown’s too far away. They’ll never go home. It only occurred to me years later that these young men we dismissed would become my son’s freshmen friends.
But that afternoon we -- virtually -- wandered in and out of every room on the floor until we came to a young man whose Facebook profile picture was of two young boys, maybe four and seven. They were brothers obviously - even though one was a blondie, one a brunette, But the bigger one held the younger in a Vulcan hug of love/death that siblings perfect at a young age.
“Try him,” I said. “Look at his picture. He must be a nice kid.”
My seventeen-year-old was reluctant. Granted it’s an odd email to write. Hi, based on your current profile picture I’m guessing you’re not an axe murder. Want to live together for nine months?
We were getting ready to go to out to dinner as a family, so I pushed him. “Just write,” I said, “before someone else claims that spot.”
My son agreed to send a vague message, I’m looking for a roommate. I’m from out of state. He hit send and immediately had shopper’s remorse. “I shouldn’t have done that. You’re always pushing me.” His fifteen- and twelve-year-old brothers piled on. “Yeah Mom, you’re always forcing us to do stuff we don’t want to.”
At dinner the conversation kept turning back to me. My demanding they go out of their comfort zone. Mostly their complaints centered on homework and walking the dog. But still...they were incensed. When we got home, my son had a Facebook message. “Hi. Yeah I’m looking for a roommate, too. Do you like sports?”
And a conversation began, that continues to this day. My eldest paused long enough to apologize for having given me such a hard time. My middle son turned to him, his face as red as a hot pepper. “We’re done being mad at Mom? Already?” (Don’t worry. The second son has had many opportunities since.)
Years later, the young man told us on his end, he ran into the kitchen and said to his dad, “Some kid just messaged me about living together at school next year. What should I do?”
“Write him back?” his dad ventured.
And now we’re back to notes. Thank you notes. Four years later this young man wrote us:
Thank you very much for the graduation present. College was the best four years of my life thus far and I couldn’t have imagined it without you guys. I also couldn’t have asked for a better roommate and friend for the past four years.
The last sentence he wrote just to me. Thank you, he said, for finding me.
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