Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day Seventy-Three: Roommates

Jade has multi coloured folders piled on the hexagon  table. She pulls individual assignments, marks them, slips them back between the covers. She smiles once for my camera, but then goes back to her students' best efforts. I am packing my extra clothing from the locked cabinet into my suitcase.  I pack the new Mac computer Lesley left me today for our project. I file some folders from my briefcase. I load up my backpack.

"It's just like being roommates," I say. "Sharing the same space like this."

Jade looks up from her marking. "But in a good way."

"For sure," I say. "It's like we're making supper together, neither one of us needing to talk, unless we do. We chat a little, go back to our chores."

Before Jade came to the school, I had cleared out the large desk that faced the students. I had kept the smaller desk with the computer, facing the door. The desks form an L shape, and when we're both sitting and working, we are shoulder to shoulder at a right angle. I secured her a grey swivel hard seat chair and kept the swivel plush chair for myself. I am, after all, twice her age: exactly twice her age.

My sister and I shared a room even though she was eight years younger than me and I could have had my own room. We've never lived together since, but we share all holidays, family events, Sister Triangle Magazine leadership, and a deep friendship. Sometimes we phone, just to yawn at each other for a while.

When I left home for Western Christian in grade eleven, I shared a dorm room with Angela Tucker for two years. We had each other stereotyped -- she was boy crazy and I was a rubber-boot-wearing farm girl. We were unlikely friends, but we brought out the best in each other, our strengths covering for the other's weaknesses. I don't know how many times I talked Ange to sleep, preaching politics or religion and her saying, "Uh huh, uh huh..." and then eventual silence. We've been bosom buddies ever since, some twenty-seven years.

In university I had two roommates; both were childhood friends, and we ended closer than we began. Janna would let me read my journal to her if I'd rub her back at the same time. Karen and I would walk through the back ally and across Arcola to the grocery store and get our weekly supplies. I remember her stepmother, who was a doctor, approving that we had yellow squash in the fridge.

And then when I was 22, twenty-two years ago, I married Michael who is now my half-my-life-long roommate. Out of all my partnerships, his has been the most rocky, but then again, he and I have had the longest roommate arrangement. We also have the most to show: three diverse, beautiful, tallented daughters.

I think about me and Jade sharing my classroom, and really, it isn't my classroom. The space belongs to the Prairie Valley School Division. I've just been entrusted with it's care and when Jade came along, she and I spent some time getting to know one another, understanding each other's world-views, needs and dreams; then we wrote and signed a contract, an agreement of how we would share the space for our mutual benefit.

I'm having trouble writing an ending for this entry. Should I just leave it there, I wonder. Let the reader make the connection to treaty themselves.

My husband comes into the bedroom where I type with the laptop on my knee.

"I wrote about you in my blog," I say in a sing-song voice.

"What did you say?" he says.

"Do you want me to read it to you?"

"Okay." He makes the bed as I begin to read.

I run a conclusion past him: guess I've been on this treaty walk for longer than seventy-three days. "Does that sound trite?" I say.

"Maybe a little," he says.

"Yah, you're right," I say. "What about slipping the phrase, a treaty, into the list, a contract, an agreement, a treaty."

"That's better," he says, "But isn't a treaty more sacred?"

"Does a treaty have to be sacred?" I say. "How about a minor-treaty?"

"Uh huh, uh huh," Michael says and then silence.

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