34: Holy Hayley

34: Holy Hayley

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Campus Chronicles

Holy Hayley

The right to do something does not mean that doing it is right.

~William Safire

Moving away to go to college was my first big taste of independence. Up until then, I’d been an unadventurous, quiet, content person. A writer, a computer nerd, and a bit shy, I knew that moving to a college across the state would give me the opportunity to find out who I was without the influence of friends and family.

I had attended my first year of college while living with my parents, so the transfer was a shock for many reasons. Even so, I was excited as I unpacked my things and waited for my roommate to arrive.

Fresh from Nebraska, the hyper, free-spirited, energetic Hayley entered my life more like a Texas tornado. The college would have been hard pressed to find two people more opposite than us. The drinking, swearing, socialite Hayley seemed to find my calm, quiet ways a bit confusing at times. We made it work, though, and she was out of the room more often than not, so studying wasn’t too hard.

I began to get the feeling that Hayley and I had a problem when I realized that our “cleaning schedule” wasn’t working and I was doing all the cleaning. If I wanted a neat and tidy room, then I had to clean. The problem was that the mess was pretty much all hers.

For the first time in a long time, I stood up for myself. I decided that I was no one’s maid and stopped cleaning up her things.

She didn’t seem to care. Over the next few weeks, I discovered that Hayley owned more clothes than I had ever owned. She didn’t care for hangers or even laundry baskets. Soon the entire floor, excluding the small area under my desk and chair, was covered in a layer of her clothing.

Then she began coming back to our dorm drunk. It was as if the mess of clothing had given her unspoken permission to get really down and dirty. And things only got worse from there. The only things she managed to keep clean were her dishes, which I think was more about the fact that she ate out a lot.

It was when she started kicking me out of our room so she could have some privacy with her male friends that I began to get truly depressed and unsure of what I could do. Thankfully, the girls in the room across the hall took pity on me and gave me a place to sleep on those nights. Refusal to leave would have gotten me nowhere, as Hayley had no problems with being an exhibitionist.

Despite all that, I think Hayley was able to sense something in me that I had not yet realized about myself. For all her bad habits, she was a soul truly in love with life, and that’s something I lacked.

She got me to talk about what was going on in my life, cheered for me when I met the man who is now my husband, and even hugged me when I cried. There was a softer side in her that I glimpsed every now and then.

One night she discovered that I didn’t wear make-up and rarely had. Despite my protests, she had me dress up in a combination of our best clothing, styled my hair, and then applied make-up.

It was like a scene from a movie. I felt fabulous, even pretty. She didn’t leave it at that, though. She insisted that we go to the main part of campus so I could really show myself off.

And so we did.

The magic and good feelings of that night didn’t last long enough, though, and as finals came, I found myself growing more and more frustrated with the drunken nights and the mess.

After finals, the night before we were both set to leave for Christmas break, she asked me to wake her up early so she could clean before leaving. I did as she asked the next morning, but she refused to get up. And when she finally did get up, she was overwhelmed by the mess.

I was more than happy to help, but her grandparents showed up. With a quick goodbye, she left me to clean up the whole mess.

I hit my breaking point then and began tossing all of her things — everything from her clothes to her toaster — in her closet. Books, CDs, and her coffee maker (with some grounds still in it, unfortunately) all went in. I couldn’t believe she would just leave me with her mess. Her disrespect for me had gone too far and I wanted to pay it back in kind.

A few days before it was time to go back to college, I began to regret what I did. I felt bad for leaving things like that, but I figured I could fix everything with her somehow. Maybe I could buy her a cake or promise to thoroughly clean the whole room. But, as I opened the door to my room, I found Hayley’s side empty. She had withdrawn from college.

She left me a nasty note that made me cry for days, but I gradually accepted that I couldn’t change the past and now she was gone.

Later, in spring, I heard a familiar loud voice call my name. Hayley had come back from Nebraska to visit, and was staying with the girls across the hall. Later I had a laugh about the irony of it, but in that moment, I waited for her to bring up what I had done. I thought she would glare at me and try to pick a fight, but she smiled and laughed as if nothing had happened.

As we held each other’s gaze for a moment, I think she felt sorry for pushing me past the line of anger and she knew I felt bad for what I had done.

And with that, we went our separate ways, accepting that some people just aren’t meant to be friends.

~Jaime McDougall

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