An Ode to My University Evening Ritual

The author with both her lovely roommates.

Every day after we’re finished classes, my roommates and I slowly migrate to the kitchen to begin making our individual dinners. One of us will hear the other rummaging through the fridge or cupboards, and that’s the other’s cue that it’s time to begin our evening ritual.

As we prep our meals, sometimes dancing around each other in our tiny kitchen, reaching over each other’s cutting boards for knives and spatulas, we catch each other up on the day’s activities. It usually goes something like this:

“How was practicum today?”

“She actually said that? The audacity!”

“Oh! I saw this thing today and it reminded me of you.”

“Can you send me that article you mentioned? It sounds so interesting, but also very depressing.”

We talk and laugh as the kitchen fills with the smell of simmering soup, chicken and rice, and Annie’s mac and cheese. Our meals take twice as long to make because we keep getting distracted by the story we’re telling or the one we’re listening to.

Once we’ve caught each other up on the day’s most important details and haphazardly plated our suppers, we sit on the little yellow metal chairs that surround our equally small dining table. We listen to Crime Junkies or migrate to the couch in the living room to watch a documentary about a serial killer while we eat. These days, dinner feels incomplete without the hum of true crime in the background.

We gasp at the same parts, pause and discuss the parts that confuse or disturb us, and contemplate the many flaws of our legal system.

Dinner turns to dessert and we cut up fruit, or munch on a cookie or a piece of chocolate. As the true crime episode comes to a close and the screen darkens or the podcast music plays out, we always get a little philosophical.

The author and one of her roommates.

“I was thinking today about how grateful I am for my family.”

“Do you ever think about what it means to be a ‘good person’?”

We discuss our various musings for a bit, sometimes for 10 minutes, other days for 2 hours.

After a while, we sit on the couch in silence or in our chairs for a moment before taking our dishes to the sink and saying our goodbyes for the night. It may be 8pm or 10pm depending on the day and the depth of conversation. We wish each other luck with our readings and the next day’s lectures, the whole time knowing full well that we’ll repeat the ritual at roughly the same time tomorrow.

It’s a small part of my day, but it’s the part I most look forward to. It’s the part that I can consistently rely on. The part that brings me comfort. The part that brings me relief. We talk about anything and everything. Sometimes we cry with frustration, other days we cry from laughing.

Even as we navigate a school year filled with unexpected challenges, learning curves, and stress, we can always count on dinner and some true crime to wrap up our days. It’s also the time of day that our shabby basement suite feels most like a home. The smell of good food, the easy conversation, and the golden glow of the oven light fills me with warm nostalgia for family dinners at home. But there’s also an undeniable sense of independence and adulthood simmering below our evening ritual. We made the dinner. We bought the ingredients and silverware ourselves. We pay the rent for the room we sit in. When we sit at our little round table, it is the time when I simultaneously feel the most grown up and the most like my childhood self. Perhaps a contradiction, but also the way I feel most of the time while trying to navigate early adulthood.

So, I suppose this an ode to my roommates, but it’s also an ode to friendships everywhere. The ones that get you through the day, that provide that little bit of constancy we so desperately crave. Thank you to anyone that’s ever been keen to listen or to share at the end of a long day. Thank you to anyone who’s ever taken the time to eat dinner with a friend or roommate, for talking about everything and nothing.

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