On my first day at Boston College, my astronomy professor told me that Venus is 162 million miles away. His calculations of distances between worlds captivated a class of 50 students just hoping to pass their natural science requirement class. Similar to my astronomy professor, I kept my own worlds roughly 162 million miles apart. Family, high school buddies and my new college friends were three planets I never wanted to orbit.
At home, I enjoy the company of three younger siblings. Blessed with an undeniable charm and unjust level of cuteness, my youngest sibling Teddy is a fan favorite amongst family, friends and cute girls I don’t stand a chance of getting. My sister Charlotte excels at tattletaling, which has made her a distinctive threat to her two older brothers. Peter, a rising high school senior and the second eldest, remains a quiet mystery who speaks through his artwork rather than conversations with his quizzical older brother. Accompanying each relationship is knowledge of unpalatable personal habits, like eating dinner shirtless and tempers shorter than Peter Dinklage.
During my high school days in Morristown, New Jersey, my friends and I developed an unbreakable bond fueled by odd habits. Our iTunes party playlists consisted exclusively of Bon Iver songs, which only increased our social stature and presence with the ladies. Most importantly, we basked in the glory of Sandy Cohen’s eyebrows and Ryan Cohen’s biceps during terrifyingly long binges of everybody’s favorite early 2000s TV show, The O.C.
To my surprise, my new friends at college show no interest in dancing to “Skinny Love” at parties. I am known on campus for dutifully embracing Flannel Friday and testing out different hat types,including the ball cap and bucket hat. I never eat alone, and my roommates speak to me every night. We bang on each other’s doors at midnight because, of course, we are awake and sip the devil’s juice over pizza on unproductive weeknights.
I began my college career with a fierce ambition to keep these three particular worlds separate. While 162 million miles was wishful thinking, only 162 seemed to adequately distance my crippling insecurities from one another. These insecurities began with my toenails and ended with how people viewed those who matter to me. Needless to say, infamous Parents Weekend was my Scary Movie 3. Not only were my parents and siblings set to meet my new friends, but my best friend from high school, Chris, was also coming to visit his sis at BC. Why this weekend, Chris, why?!
I already promised Chris I would let him spend Saturday night in my room, so I hoped that I could engage in one-on-one family time that weekend without letting them infiltrate my school. Of course, my brother’s first words to me that weekend weren’t “Hello, I love you” (as expected and deserved) but, “Can I spend the night on Saturday?” Before my stopped heart could be resuscitated, my mother answered. “Peter is spending the night.” That was that.
Her words and undigested Chipotle left Eagle Scout quality knots in my stomach. Would my friends think differently of me when Chris and I quietly hum Sublyminal’s “California,” The O.C.’s theme song, to each other? Would my sister spill the beans about my former Club Penguin obsession? Would Chris slap me if I let the word “wicked” slip out of my mouth? Only time would tell.
The magnum opus of Parent’s Weekend–any fall weekend, really–is the football game and tailgates. My family’s barbeque attracted my group of college friends in full. Naturally, my father told my two roommates to make sure I didn’t brush my teeth too hard and to routinely check the bristles on my toothbrush (he has a phobia of enamel wearing away). Chris even exercised his right to engage in a political argument with my right of center roommate.
The night’s saving grace came in the form of a dominant victory. While I was still on a Tom Brady-decorated cloud 9, my parents handed Peter over– a terrifying cue that the night had begun. Instead of facing door-slamming rejection off campus, I elected to invite a few friends over to my room for a relaxed evening of football viewing and old wives’ tales. We enjoyed Bruce Springsteen hits and flipped between games on our television. The night went awry when my friends slipped my brother Buds behind my back. I only noticed when he vocalized his desire to do cartwheels and bolted outside (not a metaphor). Chris, my two roommates and I responded in chase.
When we finally got Peter back to the room, he climbed into bed and passed out on cue. Cold and tired, we went to our TV area and ordered a late night Dominos pizza. As we sat together, I felt comfortable. Nothing extraordinary happened, but there is something about pizza, music and beer that brings people together.
My two roommates, Chris and I awoke to the faint smell of old pizza, near goodbyes and incoming homework stress. Chris and my right of center roommate shook hands before he left to meet his parents and sister for mass. Just before I handed my brother off in halfway-decent shape to my parents, I found his cell phone in my freezer (seriously). I casually said goodbye to my family, put my hand in my pants and walked back into my new home.