Published as a Guest Post on MMB Community, March 2011 (click HERE for the link)

It was Fall, 1987.  Our hair was big, our dreams even bigger.  Hailing from California, Oregon, Arizona and Oklahoma, seven of us crossed paths during freshman year at BYU and began rooming together sophomore year. The friendships we developed are still reverberating in our lives twenty-four years later.

Spring 1998, end of freshman year.  Seven roomies on back row. (counting from left): Norma (1), Jenn (3), Kelly (4), Debbie (6), Susie (8), Kristel (10), Jill (13)

The experience of living with other girls during college can be precarious – there are plenty of negative, even nightmarish roommate stories.  By a magnificent stroke of luck and more than a little Divine intervention, the stars aligned beautifully for the seven of us.

1988, soph year. (l-r) Susie, Jen, Kelly, Norma, Kristel, Jill (Debbie is missing from the pic but not from the story!)

Not perfectly, especially at first.  We came from different backgrounds and had different ideas about how to cook, clean, dress, put on makeup, sleep, study, shop, eat.  But our lives became intertwined, and our stories merged into hundreds of joint experiences.

Staying up all night to study or talk or eat.  Or all three.  Discovering a new half-gallon of ice cream in the freezer – the sign that one us had just kissed a boy for the first time – and interrogating the ice cream purchaser until all details were satisfactorily revealed and analyzed.  Classes, dates, hiking, family crises, vacations, a funeral – all experienced together.  Endless laughing.  Cycles synching up, which is just weird but it happens.  Dreaming about our futures. And plenty of crying when life pretty much sucked.

circa 1992 (l-r) Kristel, Jill, Kelly, Susie, Debbie, Jen, Norma

Then, of course, the inevitable goodbyes.  Missions, graduations, marriages.  Our lives took other paths, merged with other people, separated us from each other for seasons – sometimes long ones – as the stories of our lives grew more diverse and infinitely more complicated.

No matter how long it’s been since I’ve talked to my roommates, I have known through the years that I could call any one of them and be heard, understood, and loved.  Not only do we know each others’ back stories, we are part of each others’ back stories.

In February, the seven of us flew & drove into SLC from Nevada, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas, & Utah to meet up at a cabin in Heber, UT for Roomiepalooza 2011.

For one long weekend, we stayed up late every night (but never all night, as age has exacted its requisite amount of energy from us).  We ate – primarily chocolate – and talked.  We talked about husbands and kids and books and vacations and kitchen remodels and lingerie and exercising which in theory leads to weight loss and going back to school and working and praying and motherhood and trying to keep our heads above water and headaches and peri-menopause.  Endless reminiscing and laughter.  Dreams realized, dreams lost.  Realities accepted and realities we are struggling mightily to change.  And because each of us has had times when our lives have pretty much sucked – on scales both large and small – plenty of crying.

Roomiepalooza, Heber 2011 (l-r) : Kristel, Debbie, Norma, Kelly, Jen, Susie, Jill

 All in the safety of friendships that began with big hair, big dreams, and a magnificent stroke of luck.