So tonight through a very odd happenstance, I remembered the roommate of a college friend - someone I haven't thought of probably since the last time I saw her. Her name was Millie - I remember this because I distinctly recall thinking to myself "why, you're the first Millie I've ever met under the age of 70!" (although I didn't tell her that.) I don't remember all that much about Millie. She was pleasant, a brunette, a nursing student and overall a nice person. She and her roommate Ellen (who was in my pharmacy class) lived in the Quad at Iowa across the courtyard from where I lived one year. The year after that I moved out of the dorms and into a townhouse with a couple of friends of mine, and they moved out of the Quad as well and to an apartment over by Carver-Hawkeye Arena. They lived with a couple of other girls who were in our pharmacy class, so even when they moved into an apartment, they still shared a bedroom. Personally, that would have been a deal breaker. Sharing a room with someone while in the dorms is one thing, but choosing that once you make the switch to apartment life? That's just plain crazy. I can't imagine not having a place to retreat to, a place where I could close the door and shut out the world.
Anyway, my memories of Millie have been muddied by the passage of time, and the fact that we really were never social. She was always "pleasant" to me, but it never extended beyond that. I don't even remember her last name, although I undoubtedly knew it at the time. I found myself thinking of her tonight, wondering where she ended up, as I do so many people from my past who have slipped away and off my radar. Most of the people who have drifted off I don't even think of any more, except in the fashion that Millie came to mind tonight. Others -those who were better friends - sometimes haunt me.
It's funny how things that were so vibrant and real at the time become faded and tattered in a memory. Sometimes, I can recapture that vibrant feeling, but usually only for a moment. It's kind of like the 90s nostalgia that watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 generates. It is so ephemeral - you try to grab onto it, only to have it slip through your fingers. But yet, it's there, you just know it. I'm not really one to romanticize a time gone by. I have not always been able to say that, however. The trouble with romanticizing the past is that it's just that - a romance. It selectively edits out all the shit. When I look back at something like, say, college, I don't remember the stress of tests and relationships, etc. I remember the good times - nights eating out at BoJames, going to R.T.'s (even though the chances of my actually enjoying a night at R.T.'s was usually about 50% and was directly correlated with the amount of alcohol I consumed.) So I guess that's why the past stays where it is.
I'm also not one of those people that says "Oh, that was the BEST time of my life!" If that's the case, I better just quit now because I peaked way too early. I find it funny that the present you're in will some day be the past. That seems kind of like a "duh!" because, well, of course it will be the past some day. The 8 hours I worked tonight are in the past now (and there was much rejoicing) but it's not until you get some distance from it that you're able to see the part of your history that you were making. Every now and then, you become aware of it - things like a wedding day or a graduation are obvious examples, but the subtle ones are the ones I like. The unfortunate part of that is usually those moments are bittersweet.
I'm not really sure where this post is going - it's kind of like me tonight - all over the place. If nothing else, I got my first thought of Millie in over a decade out of me and onto "paper" of sorts. It is not super coherent, I'm certain, but it is nonetheless what is inside my brain tonight. And I have to stay up till I finish this Corona as I will certainly not waste good beer.