Hejira

cultural exchange

february 2. 2000

little blue girlLast Friday, I finally got a roommate. I was in too much of a state of disarray to really talk about it too much then, but at least I've had some time to calm down and think about it a little bit.

I guess I have to say right here that I wasn't that thrilled about getting a roommate. I think that may have been the cause of my panic on Friday. I had gotten used to having the room to myself, to going to sleep and waking up when I chose, playing the music I want as loud as I want, and walking around the room in my skivvies if I so choose. And I wasn't really looking forward to losing that.

The experience with my roommate of last semester, Cheryl, was less than ideal. I mean, we didn't hate each other, but we didn't like each other that much, either. I think what it really came down to is that we were such radically different people that we had a tough time living together. I won't go into the often delicate business of living with another person at this particular time, because I've already covered it, but sufficed to say, it ain't an easy thing. I'm sure all of you who have lived with roommate know that. It takes social skills that I don't possess in abundance.

Steve (the RD for Beech Hall, where I live) came up to me last week in the dining hall and said, "You'll be getting a roommate, I don't know when, but she's from Scotland." I wasn't too terribly thrilled at this prospect, but I knew there wasn't much choice in the matter. But I was determined to go at this with the right attitude for once, and tried to be upbeat about it all.

Her name is Amy Juliana Gallagher, which I thought was just a wonderful name. She has long brown hair, a round face, is very small and thin, about 5'3". She looks a lot like Kate Bush, actually. She has a charming Scottish accent, which I still have trouble understanding at times, so I end up saying "What?" to her a lot. She has a liking for coffee and red wine, and smokes Benson and Hedges 100s, which she calls fags. She's a junior printmaking major, and has some of the most amazing work I've seen in a while. She's from Glasgow School of Art, which is somewhere I definitely want to look into going to for at least a semester, because they supposedly have a really good ceramics program.

We have a lot of similar views when it comes to religion, politics and music (she likes Tori!), and we haven't really wanted for conversation since I met her. The little differences between us are probably what's most interesting. We went out to do some errands on Sunday, and she commented how weird it was to be sitting on this side of the car and not be driving. She also mentioned nearly being run over several times while crossing the street because she was looking in the wrong direction. She was also marveling how cheap everything is over here, especially art supplies. She said the only thing that was more expensive here in America was alcohol. The first night she got here she went out for a drink, and was surprised when they asked for her ID. The drinking age in Europe is 18, and she says they never card anyway.

From what she told me, she had a hell of a welcome to America a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, she had the wrong visa, and almost got sent back to Scotland. Fortunately, she was able to straighten it out. Then she got to Philly, and Temple didn't have any housing for her. Good Old Temple University Efficiency At Work. She ended up staying in a hotel for the first four days she was here, until they finally worked it all out and she moved in with me. She concluded that story with, "And that's how you ended up stuck with me."

I smiled and said, "Well, you know, that's not a bad thing."