These Finals Are A Piece Of Cake

, , , , , , , | Hopeless | June 3, 2018

My first year of university, my dorm floor is pretty much all first-years like myself, living alone for the first time, trying to figure out what we want to do, and desperately missing our families and friends. The very first day we move in, one girl at the far end of the hall makes it a point to ask everyone when their birthday is. We figure she’s into astrology or something, but lo and behold, whenever someone’s birthday rolls around, she has a cake or cookies ready, and leads the entire dorm floor in singing happy birthday. When we ask her about it, her response is that you don’t stop celebrating birthdays just because you’re technically a grown-up, and that we need reasons to celebrate now more than ever, now that we’re all living away from our families and stressed out by classes and trying to learn how to be adults.

As the year goes on, my dorm floor gets closer and closer. By Christmas, we’re all studying together, partying together, making exhausted Sunday brunch together, and going to each other for homework or relationship help or advice, or just to rant. The girl’s birthday is in February, and we noticed that although she bakes for everyone else, she doesn’t usually have much more than a single cookie or a bite or two of cake. One of my roommates asks her about it, and she admits that she doesn’t really like cake; she prefers fruit pie, but isn’t very good at baking it. It’s clear what we have to do.

The girl’s birthday falls right in the middle of midterms, so we are all up late studying, anyway. As soon as midnight hits, we knock on her door, wait for the, “Come in,” and the entire dorm floor files into her room, my roommate holding the cherry pie he made, lit with candles. All forty of us sing her happy birthday, and my roommate happily presents her with the pie. She is almost in tears by the end of it, and admits that she was so stressed with exams, she’d decided she wasn’t going to bother celebrating her own birthday. That won’t do, either, so we decide we’ll go out and celebrate together in a week, once midterms are done, and we stick to it.

That’s years past now, but I’m still in touch with her, and she’s still extraordinary, as a doctor and as a person, always thinking of how she can help other people. For me, though, nothing ever tops the eighteen-year-old girl trying to offer comfort and continuity to a bunch of other stressed and frightened students, and how she turned us from a bunch of strangers into a second family, and made our dorm a home!

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