In contrast, Mel's current roommate and friend Cameron (also 20 yrs. old), grew up in a vineyard near the Russian River in Sonoma County, CA. She remembers cleaning the entire house every Saturday, and other extensive chores along her family's vineyard. "I grew up always having accountability," said Cameron, "And now, I don't like to work." These days, she prefers to clean and garden on her own time.
The two have known each other for a couple of years and met when they lived in the same dormitory building on campus. Mel is a third year Religious Studies and Art double major, and Cameron is a third year Music major.
Both wanted to get out of the dorms and met another roommate Cristiana, a second year student. The three of them currently live in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment along the 6500 block of Sabado Tarde.
It was a Wednesday night, and I asked Melinda what things I could bring prior to my staying over that night. I learned that she fancies anything with milk chocolate and so I stopped by Happy Harry's earlier in the evening and picked up some more treats.
I was graced by Cameron and Melinda's hospitality that the thought of my role as Melinda's TA was far from my mind. My sense, I hope, is that they may have felt the same way. As much as I have taken the time and brought/offered a tangible (and consumable) "gift," I have been finding that the real gift is from our conversation.
This conversation became an experience, of a shared private space with a stranger (me) in the expanse of one nighttime. Here, I am beginning to understand this new idea of "transitory intimacy."
It turns out that Melinda is a fan of sleepovers, and had earlier suggested watching a movie. She brought out some tea while Cameron made some fresh popcorn from her maker. The three of us sat down to watch a VHS copy of Bozetto's Allegro Non Troppo (1976), an animated film with classical music... much like an Italian version of Disney's Fantasia.
As the movie progressed, Mel brought out a few different sketch pads and we took our time doodling while watching. Cameron moved her hands in the expression of playing an instrument from time to time, calling out the different woodwinds that were played in the film.
Beyond the tea, homemade popcorn, chocolate, and movie, I had a good conversation with the two of them. They both shared their views and growing pains of living on one's own during college.
Simply put, it's a drastic change when living on one's own after living with one's parents. "It's complete accountability to live on your own versus living with your parents because you don't have people telling you what to do or need to do," said Melinda. "The freedom is really a lot to have all of a sudden compared to living with your parents."
Her experience from having lived on-campus also shed an interesting contrast between parents and RAs. Melinda described the dorms as a "mediary" space for students, where the RAs are "like a parent surrogate. And that was a weird hyper-reality, 'cos you're living next to all these other students from all these different places where they're now in the same situation as you. So it's like a community, in a way."
I asked Cameron and Mel if they currently find themselves in a community. Their friendly stature makes me think of an obvious "yes" response, but I am surprised to see them both shake their heads and chuckle.
"We know one of our neighbors, but most of our neighbors are turned off by, like, giving them cookies just because," described Mel. "They don't necessarily want to be friendly or community-oriented."
Regardless of how they see themselves fitting in a community or not, I can see that Cameron and Mel have a very good friendship with each other. And I think a relationship as that is more than enough to feel a sense of belonging.