Presented without comment, with names changed to protect some of them from seeing this when they Google themselves.
(Hi Lori! Remember this paper? Miss you.)
NOTE: In case you are bad at math, I wrote this when I was 19.
"On the morning of August 14th, 2003, I logged onto my parents’ computer with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Being the unbelievably patient person I am, I had to restrain myself from grabbing the ancient purple iMac by the neck (if it had a neck, try to picture it) as it sloooooowwwwlllly chugged its way to the BYU homepage, then to the on-campus housing, than to my name, which provided a link to the name of my future roommate and her address.
My first reaction was to laugh out loud. My next was a timorous moan, followed by a surge of fear so powerful I can still recall the way my fists clenched, digging my fingernails into my palms.
“Loralee Barratt. Allen, Texas.”
Loralee. Texas. I don’t cuss, but the closest phrase that I can think to describe my feelings right at that moment is “Oh, s***.”
The next morning I went out for drinks with my best friend, her boyfriend and our World Literature teacher, mentor and former Texan Rich Sandford. He asked about my imminent departure for Utah, and I told him my roommate’s name and origin.
“Allen, eh?” Rich commented. “That’s a small town near Dallas. Near the University of Texas.”
“The University of what now?”
Rich chuckled. “Also known as the home of the George W. Bush Memorial Library. Allen’s a small town, too. She’ll probably be really conservative. Have fun.” Burt, Cori and Rich all laughed and again, a stream of panicked expletives ran through my head.
Coming to BYU was hands-down one of the scariest experiences of my life, and I have been in three car wrecks and woken up in the middle of a generally anesthetized surgery. My fears about BYU can be summed up as follows: I am politically liberal, and thus, Utah scares me. I came to BYU sight unseen, without so much as a campus visit under my belt. The stories my ward members told me did nothing to abate my fear that Utah would be isolated and narrow-minded, that my professors would be misogynistic Reaganites, and most of all, that everyone would hate me. Still, I could not deny that somebody upstairs wanted me at BYU. My other college prospects had refused to pan out for myriad financial and logistical reasons. Despite my love for all things Seattle, I had to leave the state. So Utah it was, to live with a Texan whose name sounded to me like a bastardization of an archaic Greek siren. And a Texan, no less. What would become of my political cartoon collection? My constant barrage of snide remarks about the Bush administration? For the next three weeks I bit my proverbial nails and pondered what sort of ordeal Heavenly Father had in store for me.
Loralee Barratt. Loralee Barratt. It sounded so high-maintenance. I knew that we would not get along. Well, I knew in the sense that I know that a food is disgusting before I try it. I figured our relationship would work in one of two ways: either we would completely despise each other and never speak, or we would tolerate each other’s presence and … never speak. Never did it occur to me that we might actually get along.
I took to, whenever referring to my elusive roommate, saying her name in my worst Southern drawl, My friends picked it up too, and until I left for Utah, our source of entertainment when we ran out of other material was my BYU Texan Republican roommate.
One day I checked my email and noticed a new message from a firstname.lastname@example.org. It was my roommate. Her email, which was short and completely devoid of capitalization, asked, among other things, if I was aware that we were on the Honors Floor in Deseret Towers.
“i just signed up for the honors floor as a joke. im so worried that were gonna be with a bunch of nerds.” She wrote. I am a nerd. My panic, which before had seemed slightly judgmental and unfounded, took full and horrid effect.
The car trip to Provo and long and uneventful, and when we finally arrived at the dorms, I went in unto the elevator, rode up to the seventh floor and located my new residence, 704. The room was empty, no sign of the roommate or any of her stuff. Since New Student Orientation didn’t start for two more days, I wasn’t that concerned. I took over the west side of the room, since it had a slightly bigger desk, unpacked, and slept that night at my friend’s house in American Fork. The next few days were filled with the mundane and middle school-esque goings-on of New Student Orientation, and still no roommate. I talked about her with the members of my Y Group, and we wondered if Loralee Barratt would ever show up at all.
That evening, three green Tupperware cartons, a giant black suitcase, a sewing machine and a gigantic stereo arrived at our abode, accompanied by my tall, blond, and extremely cute roommate. This was a problem heretofore unperceived: that my roommate would be much more attractive than I, that I would feel repulsive in comparison and that boys would be nice to me only in an effort to get an “in” with my hot roommate. Again with the internal monologue of expletives, although since I was now in Utah, these words were more along the lines of “Oh my hecking freak of a shoot gosh darn hot roommate.” Still, I thought a civilized greeting would be the wisest course of action.
“Hello. You must be Loralee,” I smiled my most sincere fake smile, the one I usually reserve for applying for loans or asking favors at the Washington Department of Transportation.
“Oh.” Was her response. “I go by Lori.”
The wave of relief was decidedly physical. At least she had a nickname that wasn’t Loralee. There was still the matter of her hotness, but the fact of the matter was, all my perceptions of her had been based on her name, and now I had learned that it wasn’t even her name. Lori, I figured, would be much easier to deal with than Loralee.
I didn’t see my roommate much for the next few days, since she had friends from back home that took up most of her time, and also went out on dates that lasted until five o’clock in the morning. We proved to have multiple things in common, such as a preference for loud music (although she preferred hers much later than I) and a mutual affection for my belongings. The girl borrowed EVERYTHING, and it would have bothered me except that she was equally generous with her shoes, of which she had many. She even gave me a pair of sandals she didn’t want anymore. I never wear them, but that was nice.
Lori likes to say that our roommate relationship is based on lies and deceit. That is absolutely not true, which is in itself a huge lie, because for the first month or so of our living arrangement, I was scared of Lori. She seemed so cool, and I was intimidated by her, since I am decidedly not cool. Fortunately, I had some things that she didn’t, such a computer, and Dining Plus, and the ability to use the word “good” in proper context, so I was able to be of some use to her. Thus I was able to lull myself into believing that we were on somewhat even grounds, with her social know-how and my inherent knack for owning things.
To make a long story short, Lori and I have reached a Zen-like understanding. She confides in me about boys, and life, and I correct her grammar as she does so. Lori has improved my coolness quotient significantly by helping me in my effort to wear clothes that improve my “game,” as it were. She also plucks my eyebrows and teaches me how to break-dance. It’s strange how our relationship was blossomed into the beautiful entity that it is. We laugh with and at each other, and politics rarely surfaces in our conversations, not that Lori would get upset if it did. In short, my roommate is cool, and I like her, and I’m possibly living with her next year. Who woulda thunk that a Seattle Liberal and a Smokin’ hot Texan would end up getting along so well."