I'm jumping ahead here. Our teen is about to enter sophomore year of high school. Discussions of college roommates are a long way off. But two events prompt the digression -- a birthday and an article.
I was one scared kid facing freshman year at Duke. I figured I could do the work, but boy, was I nervous about everything else. And that included life with a roommate. Here's what my randomly assigned roomie and I had in common: identical height and birthdays two days apart. That's it. I was public school, she was private -- let me notch that up -- boarding school. She always seemed self-assured and immensely more sophisticated than I. She could go to mixers and look utterly serene and bemused, drink in one hand, cigarette in other. (It was a different time.)
She was clever, smart and just what I needed to get through freshman year. The next year she was my suite-mate in a single room beside mine; Rachel -- who remains a great friend -- and I roomed together for the next two years in the dorm and one year off campus. Still, Ann and I stayed pals during the rest of college and have remained in touch, seeing each infrequently but exchanging cards on our birthdays.
A few days ago we both had big birthdays, and she sent me a cake with a funny, silly poem. Vintage Ann. Then, I spotted an article about freshman roommates and their effect, positive and negative, on the college experience.
I was sure fortunate that I was matched to Ann. She helped me survive a difficult transition, in style.