I am missing three roommates. Their last names are lost to me, and their first names are common. Sometimes I scour my old email account, the one I used when I lived with them, to see if a stray message from or to them remains.
Something about the fact that I lived with these three people whose names I can’t remember eats at me. I am good with names, better with faces, and I still see theirs, wandering through the large Victorian home we rented together. This was immediately following 9/11, and I was new to the city, new to the working world, terrified of everything. They were Long Island girls. They had serious boyfriends. They worked in beauty PR, in fashion PR. We had all the free Pantene products we wanted.
The time between my meeting with them to first view the apartment and then actually moving in was only a few weeks apart but I think I arrived a different person than who they expected. The day before my move I had gotten a haircut, and the stylist had butchered my hair. I mean, it was really terrible; I managed to hold in the tears as I paid and tipped her and then, slipping into the passenger seat of my mom’s car, I lost it — shoulders shaking, the works. I know now I was crying over more than just my hair.
So my hair was so, so bad, and I moved in and never quite felt at home there. The Long Island girls went home to Long Island most weekends, where their boyfriends lived; I would drive aimlessly on Saturday afternoons, or take the bus into Manhattan alone and explore the streets of the West Village. I took a screenwriting class to fill my time. I watched American Idol; I painted on small canvasses and gave myself pedicures.
One night the four of us went out to dinner, and I dropped a chicken wing on my shirt. It stained my favorite sweater.
And then, seven months into our stint together, one of them announced she was moving to Texas with her boyfriend and was going to become a teacher. We agreed it was time to move out. I found a great apartment in a city much more suited to my age, my needs, and the one moving to Texas told me she was jealous of me, because she’d always meant to live there, and now she never would.
I can’t remember their last names.