For reasons I no longer remember or understand, I thought we were supposed to sign up at the same time from our respective computers. I don't know why we couldn't just write in our request for a roommate whenever we filled out the application, but I do remember calling her house frantically for hours trying to find out when she was going to sign up so we could do it at the same time. I finally got in touch with her several hours later, and she'd already sent in her application without me. I submitted mine, but received a letter saying the dorms were full and I would be put on a wait list but should look for alternate housing.
A girl I knew a little from my high school choir choir and a few other classes got the same letter, so we decided to look for housing together. We picked an apartment, signed a lease, bought coordinating bedspreads - then got letters saying that if we wanted to stay in the dorms we could. Whoops.
So that began three years of living in an apartment complex that was not really as nice as the model apartment made it look, but one full of wonderful and fulfilling experiences and relationships, many of which I've carried with me ever since. My roommates and other friends who lived across the hall during those years taught me so much. They taught me how to wear makeup. They taught me how to be more spontaneous. They taught me how to flirt with cute boys. They wallowed with me to get over stupid boys. They helped me to have more confidence in myself. They went with me to plays and movies. They told me it was okay to go to plays and movies by myself. They encouraged me to follow my dreams, to apply for that study abroad to England, to submit that grad school application. They helped me realize that I cared about politics, that I loved rock concerts, that chopsticks are not impossible to use, that loving someone like a sister is possible even if you don't have any sisters. They taught me that loving a friend can be so hard you want to quit being friends with anyone ever again, and that remembering why you loved someone can be so beautiful that you want to be friends with everyone you meet.
One of the groups I lived with at the time
At a reunion this summer with those who could make it.
I'm not saying these things wouldn't have happened if I'd ended up living with my dear friend as planned. Many wonderful people would have entered my life either way, I'm sure. But some of the people I met because that plan fell through started this blog with me. Many of them were some of the first people I told when I got into grad school, when I got engaged, when I found out I was pregnant. Those people still have such a huge influence on my life that I can't imagine who I would be without them - and if I hadn't been confused about how to apply for dorms, I probably wouldn't have met any of them.
So whenever something doesn't work out the way I plan, I try to remember that some of the people who had and still have the biggest influence on my life are only in it because of something that started out as a huge disappointment and a communication error, and I try to figure out what amazing things are going to happen because my plans fell through.