After the Christmas break, Debbie showed up to replace Holly. She was a sophomore on our freshman hall, probably after losing some kind of housing lottery. She had taken a break after her freshman year - the details were sketchy, but I always suspected she had a nervous breakdown. Now after a year and some change, she was back in school.
The first night back, a student group hosted a big Registration Night party for the entire campus. We went to the party together with some hallmates, and I left early, but Debbie didn't come home that night. She had left a number near the phone of some mysterious guy named Todd, and as I was leaving for my 8 am class that morning, I left a message on Todd's answering machine. I didn't know her very well, but I was worried about her and wanted to make sure nothing had happened to my brand-new roommate of exactly one day. She called me shortly after lunch to say she was fine, and to thank me for worrying about her. From then on, she let me know if she would be out all night, which was not often. I felt weird for calling at the time, but these days you never know. There can be some strange people out there.
Speaking of which, Debbie was a drama major. She taught me that actors do not practice; instead, they rehearse. I never understood the distinction, but she repeated it over and over, so maybe she was right. I would read lines with her a lot. She did some one-act shows that I thoroughly enjoyed, and performed in one A.R. Gurney play that I still look for in bookstores.
Debbie was rail-thin, with light brown hair and very dark brown eyes. I have loads of pictures from my freshman year, and Debbie is somehow missing entirely. But she reminded me of a character on Blossom called Six, with her trendy fashion clothes and permed hair. And she was a very thoughtful roommate - I still have some of her little notes or comic strips that she often left for me, encouraging me to do well on a test or to have a good day.
At the end of the year, Debbie & I talked about rooming together again. We lived next door to two girls that we had clicked with, and we decided that the four of us would sign up to live in a sophomore suite together. About a week before the deadline, I found out that Debbie & one of the girls next door had secretly abandoned that plan and signed up to be Freshman Advisors together. FRADs lived on a freshman hall and helped the Resident Advisors. Samantha (the other girl next door) and I were stunned.
So the two of us scrambled to get a room together, and ended up on a very long waiting list. We spent all summer calling the Housing Office to find out our status. As a result of their decision to live together and leave us behind, Samantha & I were thrown into what would become unprecedented housing chaos on our campus. Turns out there was a giant shortage of rooms that year. We cursed Debbie and our neighbor often. Somehow, we manuvered through it all, and Samantha would become not only my roommate, but also one of my very best friends. With the benefit of hindsight, today I can be thankful for all of that chaos.
Late in my sophomore year, I heard Debbie left school again. There were some roommate struggles and grade issues, and perhaps the college experience just wasn't what she wanted it to be. I don't remember staying in touch, but I must have, because a year later, I was invited to her wedding. She got married in her tiny hometown's theater, up on the stage.
I was the only one from our school who showed up. I don't remember who she married. But I vividly recall the flower girl spent the entire ceremony running back and forth on the stage, crying. The reception was small and awkward. It was far too warm to be outdoors, and yet we all were. But I'd never seen her happier or more beautiful. That stage was the perfect setting for Debbie, and she played her role flawlessly that day.
I haven't heard from her since then. I keep meaning to dig up her last name and look her up on IMDB.org, to see if she ever made it big in acting.