This marks the 50th post on my blog (yeah me!) and it also marks the day I would like to give thanks to my good friend Chris. I met Chris on the first day of new student orientation because she lived in the room across the hall from mine in Lima Hall, the freshman dorm at The College of Saint Rose.
After a long day of moving in, activities on the lawn and a campus barbecue, I was ready to relax. I returned to my room, kicked off my shoes, turned to reach for my journal and tripped on the rug. I crumpled in slow motion, aiming to contort my body so I would land on the bed rather than the hard floor. When you fall frequently, you learn how to maneuver yourself to reduce the likelihood of injury. I didn’t get enough of my body on the bed, but I did manage to prevent injury. However, now I was faced with the challenge of being alone on the floor inside my room. I could wait for my roommate to return – who knew what time she would be back? Or I could try to get the door open and flag someone down for help.
It took me ten minutes of squirming and shuffling but I managed to get to the door, which thankfully had not latched as it closed. I swung it open and there was Chris, who looked like an angel coming out of the room across from me. The only thing I could think to say was the line from the Life Alert commercial, “Do you think you could help me? I’ve fallen and I can’t get up?”
Thankfully, Chris didn’t turn and run the other way. She calmly turned and asked her boyfriend if he could come help. Once I was off the floor, I introduced myself and said something along the lines of, “This wasn’t the first impression I wanted to make!” Unfortunately, it wasn’t the only time in college I ended up on the floor with Chris coming to my aid but it was the only time it happened without alcohol being involved.
Chris and I are opposites in many ways but we managed to survive and thrive as roommates in Riley Hall Room 2 for the next two years. She is neat. I have creative clutter. She organized her side of the closet. I put things on hangers in no particular order and called it a day. She alphabetized her CDs and tapes. I had mine in a container, most of the time. She made her bed every day. I usually managed to throw the covers up over the sheets but not always.
Although we are different, we are also similar in important ways. She understands the value of the perfect song for the moment, and as my roommate tolerated my need for nearly constant music. Chris is an empathetic listener – then and now I rely on her for feedback and advice when I am pondering decisions. She is an advocate for people with disabilities and has shared with me how our friendship opened her eyes to many attitudinal and architectural barriers.
Chris is a creative person and I have saved many of her drawings from birthday cards and envelopes. She designed the logo for new student orientation when I served as orientation group leader our junior year of college. She taught me, the writer and linguist, to better appreciate visual beauty in works of art.
Chris – I’m sorry I fell and surprised you on our first night at St. Rose. I’m glad you were there to serve as my rescuer, and I am grateful you have continued to support me and assist me in navigating life for the past twenty-four years. You always know what to say, and when to say it. I love how time seems to stand still when we get together and I am instantly young again whenever I hear you say, “Hi Dee!” Thank you for being a blessing to my world for more than half of my life.