I’m ecstatic to be back with my friends (the ones Phil hates); I meet Charles–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 3

On Monday, it was finally time to move my stuff into the new apartment on campus.  After I got my key card, Phil and I started unloading the minivan.

The doors were supposed to stay shut even while people moved things in or out of the building, and were not to be propped open (all the residence halls had signs posted saying this).  Since the doors had automatic locks, I was forced to unlock the door each time we brought something in.

So, naturally, I would go on ahead with whatever I carried, and try to unlock the door before Phil got to it.

But he actually snapped at me for not waiting for him before going to the door!

I said, “I have to go before you do so I can open the door with the key before you get to it!”

But he wouldn’t listen to reason.  I seethed inside.  It seemed no matter what I did or didn’t do, in his mind it was just cause to yell at me, even for being considerate and practical!

Sheesh, what a jerk.

But other than that, it was fun to see my friends again and hear their jokes as we went in and out of the apartment.  Mike was there, being his usual muppet self: bouncy, goofy, weird, loud, childlike, sweet, outgoing, hilarious.

(He danced like a muppet, and “muppet” just seemed to fit him in general.  Still does, 20 years later, especially since he loves posting muppet videos on Facebook.)

After we finished moving my stuff into my room and the living room (my room was too small to hold all the boxes), Phil may have left again for a little while.

Dirk lived in the same apartment building.  At one point, Phil and I walked away from the apartment, possibly going to the Campus Center.  Dirk yelled to us from his basement window.  (These windows were on the upper part of the lower-level bedroom walls; once you found something to stand on, or if you were on an upper bunk, they easily cranked open).

Phil talked to him through the window, and Dirk was surprised that I now had a fourth-level bard in Dungeons and Dragons (D&D).

I spent some time with my roommies and Mike.  We discovered the vents in the bedrooms were good sound conductors.  You could hear practically everything from the upstairs apartment.  Mike yelled up the vent to our upstairs neighbors, who were Phi-Delts we knew, and they yelled back.

We thought these vents could be a problem, because how much of our everyday lives and conversations would our upstairs neighbors be able to hear?  I don’t know if they even noticed, but I was often paranoid about this during the year.  And I think that, in my room, we did sometimes hear voices from their apartment.

It would be fun living there with my new roommies: Tara, Sharon and Pearl.  (We called each other roommies no matter who shared a bedroom with whom.)  I was happy to be back and with my friends again.

Phil and I had once spoken of marrying halfway through the year and then living in our own apartment on campus, since he heard they were supposed to be for married as well as regular students.  When my roommies-to-be and I looked at the apartment the year before while it was being built, I thought I would live with them for only part of the year.

But now, I wanted to spend the whole year enjoying life with my friends.

My roommie-roommie was Sharon; my roommies in the other bedroom were Pearl and Tara.

The visiting custom of the apartments was the same as for the suites: Anybody, anytime.  The only rules that applied were the ones your apartment-mates agreed on.

One rule we eventually made was that if someone wanted to let a friend/boyfriend stay overnight, she had to ask everyone else for an OK.  The friend would sleep on the couch and not with one of us, but it made people uncomfortable to walk into the living room in a bathrobe, and discover someone sleeping there.

A dorm newsletter stated what we Krueger residents knew last year: The cold in the dorm was not our imagination.  The newsletter read, “Last year the temperature in Krueger…Remained below 55 degrees during January.”

The windows were replaced, the steam heating system was repaired, and the floors were carpeted, all adding warmth to that cold dorm at last…after I moved out, of course.

Phil and Dirk discussed playing D&D that night and ordering a pizza, but I hadn’t decided whether to join them.  At first I wanted to, but they were already playing D&D, we had no directories yet, and I didn’t know where to find them.

So instead, I settled down to a fun evening with my new roommies, Astrid, and Mike.  Clarissa wasn’t there, because it was a day before move-in day.  Mike lived nearby in H– and the others were to be freshman orientation leaders, so we were all early.

We sat around the big, fake-wood dining table in this small but lovely apartment.  We played games, such as non-alcoholic Spoons.  I had never heard of it before, but was told it was a drinking game.  Our punishments had nothing to do with drinking.  I forget what they were; maybe you were “It” or something like that.  I also don’t remember how the game was played, just that it involved spoons.

Phil had made dirty jokes all summer and, with his influence, I had joined in on some of them.  Some were in-jokes triggered by certain words or phrases.  I heard some of these words while with my friends that night, but said nothing.

I noticed that Mike made few or no dirty jokes that night, and I found it refreshing.  I admired him for it.  (Not that this state of things lasted–Mike actually does make such jokes, especially now that he’s married–but this made my heart go pitter-pat.)

Finally, Phil came along and tapped on the glass doors, and we let him in.

I realized, as I later told Phil, that I was glad to be there instead of playing D&D with him and Dirk.  My friends had been my family at Roanoke, longer than Phil had been with me.  After dealing with Phil’s drama all summer, it was a relief to be with my friends again.

Maybe that night or the night before, Phil told me his mom made him give his summer money to her.  He’d saved up all summer to buy my engagement ring from a catalog for $300, but she used that money on Phil’s car payments!  We were both furious.

Phil told me to “Stay with your friends tonight” instead of going back with him to his house.  At first I wanted to go with him, figuring I would miss him.  But I soon changed my mind.

Before he left, I told him I needed a ride to go to the store and get milk and orange juice, since I had a box of cereal and would now be eating breakfast in the apartment.  I didn’t have to go to Bossard for a normal breakfast anymore, because we had a kitchen.

All the rooms had white plastic wire towers with drawers.  One wire tower was in the toilet room of the bathroom, and each of us took a drawer for various personal items.

I call it the toilet room because the bathroom was actually three separate rooms.  In the main room were two sinks; to the left of them was the bathtub with its see-through glass door; to the right was the shower room; and across from the sinks was the toilet room.  This was the handicap suite because of Pearl, so we had a huge bathroom.

Some time that first week, probably right around Tuesday, I discovered Hot 102 (dance) had turned alternative, so that quickly became my favorite station.

Of course, I recognized almost immediately that Chicago’s Q101 was much better, and that Hot 102 (now New Rock 102.1) was copying it.  The signal for Q101 didn’t cut out until we got close to Milwaukee, so copying it was easy.

New Rock 102.1 used the same terms and did the same shows as Q101.  Example: The Retro Flashback Lunch.  Another example: “We give the name and artist of every song we play.”  (That was a wonderful perk, but they stopped doing it in about 1995.)

However, New Rock didn’t play the same songs as Q101: I greatly missed “Millennium” by Killing Joke and “Insanity” by Boingo.  But they did have “Undone (The Sweater Song)” by Weezer and “Snail Shell” by They Might Be Giants.

Now to give you the view from my window.  The apartment was on one end of the bottom level, which was partially submerged by ground on one side (hence the high windows).  My bedroom was on the submerged side.  From my window, you could see the new parking lot for the apartments, a sidewalk, and the edge of Muehlmeier.  Venetian blinds probably covered the window.

On the opposite side of the apartment, by the living room, there were glass, sliding doors and a view of the lagoon, the geese, the adjacent apartment building, and the courtyard.

Our side of the building was next to the other building.  If you faced these glass doors, to your left was the wall we shared with the next apartment.

To your right was the kitchen and the back outside door.  The outside door led to a ramp-like walk which curved to the right, up the hill, to the sidewalk leading to Muehlmeier and the Campus Center.  Pearl kept her scooter inside this door.  From this door, we could see the woods on the outskirts of the campus.

We had another door, which led to the apartment mailboxes, the little laundry room, and the next apartment.  We went upstairs to get outside.

As I already mentioned, the door locked automatically and had to be unlocked with a key card.  We weren’t supposed to leave this door open, but during move-in days, people often propped it open anyway with a heavy-duty floor mat.

The place had that new building smell.

Pearl put her new stereo system in the living room for us all to use.  It had a radio, tape player, five-disc CD changer, and remote control!  Everything you could wish for–well, except for a record player, but none of us brought our records anyway.  Records were too hard to transport safely.

But the antenna was weird.  It was this black, plastic, boxlike thing connected to a couple cords.  I don’t know why it wasn’t the usual metal pole.  By second semester, there were five discs in the CD changer at all times, so we could turn it on and play whatever came up.

On Tuesday, September 6, it felt weird doing my natural family planning in the apartment.  Before, I did it secretly so my parents didn’t know about it, but Phil knew I was doing it.  Here, nobody I lived with knew about it.  I took my temperature while still in bed when Sharon couldn’t see, and stashed other tools in the toilet room in my drawer.

I set up my work schedule: On Wednesday, I started work, from one to three p.m.  Once again, I kept my weekends and evenings free from work, just as I always avoided 8:00 classes.  This left weekends free for laundry, cleaning, homework, relaxing, and sleeping in.

Junior year, Sharon got five hours done on Saturdays, but I preferred to spread out my ten hours over the five weekdays.  Sometimes I had to do, like, one hour one day and three hours the next, but my ideal setup was two hours a day.  It all depended on class schedules and other workers’ schedules.  The librarians wanted only two people working the desk at one time.

I soon gave a class and work schedule to Phil.  This is important later, because in my innocence of what was to come, I let him know where to find me all semester.

I didn’t know what time Phil would show up at the apartment that day, but I knew he would.  I wanted to see him, and knew he wouldn’t want to go a whole day without seeing me, his beloved wife.  Not only that, but he knew I needed milk and orange juice, which I couldn’t get on campus.

This new guy named Charles came to visit us, and sat in the living room while I unpacked boxes.  He was loud, tall and huge.  I didn’t know why, but I felt this strange attraction to him.  He wasn’t handsome and I didn’t know him very well, so that wasn’t the reason.

He said proudly that he was of Sicilian ancestry.  He had a strong, aquiline nose.  He was  24 but a freshman, having been in the Air Force.  He had a girlfriend named Trina, another freshman.  My friends probably met them in orientation.  Charles and Trina had only just met, but were already dating.  Trina was about 18 or 19.  She had glasses and dark, shoulder-length, kind of feathered hair.

Since many of my boxes had been put in the living room for lack of other space, I unpacked them within the first few days so as not to annoy my roommates.  To my surprise, everything fit neatly in the closets and wire racks.  I unpacked the porcelain bird as Charles watched, and told him, with a big grin, that it was my engagement ring.

Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995: