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Interview with the Roommate

Tania Rahman

AJRL 100

Interview: Errors in Judgment

When I first laid eyes on Sofeia, I was both pleased and disappointed to see that she seemed normal. Upon discovering my roommate-to-be’s name during the summer, I immediately hunted through Facebook to find her. After we messaged back and forth a bit, I was a bit hesitant that I would get along with a girl who grew up in a town that had a population of 1,418; my high school’s population itself was twice that. Our conversation appeared slightly strained-we both spoke with totally different dialects, my typing embedded with internet lingo, and hers perfectly punctuated and grammatically correct. But NYC residents are known for their liberal views and open-mindedness, and I decided to give this country girl a chance, although I had still hoped she would at least come through the door looking like she had just milked the family cow.

Fast forward four weeks-we got along like two peas in a pod. I was shocked that two people who were so strikingly different could get along this well. I wanted to know more about how someone could spend their entire lives in a place that was not the city.

I woke her up around 1 AM, as she was on the brink of a deep sleep. “Hey, have you ever ridden a cow to school?”

She blinked up at me. “Um, no.”

“Alright well get up farm girl, I have some questions for you. “

Despite being shaken awake in a not-so-pleasant manner, she sat up on her lofted bed and smiled deviously down at me. We bickered often about city life versus country life, and she was convinced that the country was better. I was determined to break that mindset, city girl that I am.

Sofeia started off with an interesting tidbit-her parents were actually from the city, her father having grown up in the Bronx, my hometown. Her mother, a Brooklyn native, had teamed up with her husband after they both agreed that city life was too dangerous to raise a family, and moved to Smyrna New York.

I interrupted. “Did you say Smirnoff? Like the alcoholic beverage?”

She smiled patiently; apparently only the immature high school kids still called it that.

Growing up with two older sisters, she was the baby of the family, and therefore coddled to the point where she was unable to do many things, such as date or even take a run on her own. “Actually, now that I think about it, it wasn’t too bad”, she recanted. “You have to understand that my parents had very bad experiences when they lived in New York City, and it’s probably the reason they’re so overprotective.”

Apparently, she did not live on a farm. “I did raise chickens once though, but they were free range chickens”, she informed me. What were free range chickens? I plowed on with other questions, delving into personal territory.

“When did you meet your boyfriend?” A smile played on her lips as she we touched upon her favorite subject. She and her group of friends had been together since the first grade, and Dan was merely another kid who lived in town, not of much importance. It wasn’t until the eighth grade that she was captured by his green-eyed gaze, and by freshman year of high school they were dating.

“At first, I felt a little guilty about lying to my parents, to be honest”, she admitted. “It didn’t really matter because we weren’t doing anything; I mean I was still going home after school every day. But it’s not like I could call him whenever I wanted without telling them that I was in a relationship. But they pretty much confronted me, like ‘Sofeia, we know you’re dating Daniel. So that was a relief.”

The wall beneath her lofted bed was plastered with pictures, proof of long lasting relationships with family, friends, and boyfriend.

She glared at me as I typed. “You haven’t asked me a question in a couple of minutes; are you trying to make me out as a cow-riding, chaw spitting farm girl?”

Was I doing that? Naw.  Wait, what’s chaw?

I asked her how her adjustment to the city of Albany was going. “Did you experience culture shock?”

Strangely, she didn’t. As one of the few minorities living in town, she was often subject to racist comments from the kids at school, most of whom were unused to people who were not white. “I enjoy being in a diverse community now; it’s a cool experience and I like being among people from various backgrounds. But I love where I was raised.”

“Now that you’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum, do you still prefer the country?”

She paused. “That’s a difficult question. In the country, there’s so much to marvel at, like the trees, the leaves changing colors, the animals, and the solitude. But I also enjoy things about the city, like the diversity…I don’t know. The business is kind of cool. I think the city looks pretty at night, with all the lights. I haven’t experienced enough to really get a grasp of it, but city life makes me appreciate country life.”

She told me that she did not and would not ever try alcohol or drugs of any kind, and she was opposed to parties, or at least the school’s idea of it. “So with that mindset, why’d you decide to come to SUNY Albany? We have a reputation for that stuff, you know.”

“I came to Albany for the school”, she said scornfully. “I liked the setting and everything; I didn’t come here for the parties. I wanted to come here for other reasons.”

Finally, I asked her the most important question of all: “What do you think of me as a roommate?”

“Hmm…I think you are..” She stopped. “I think because we were raised differently and had different childhoods, we have different experiences, and I feel like your experiences have enlightened me about things, which I enjoy. But at the same time-okay I don’t know where I was going with that.

I laughed, and we both went back to sleep.

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