Tiny Dancer + Sherlock Homeless

My Co and I are lab partners.  In two classes.  The experience has taken our already married-couple-esque partnership to new heights, as we tackle chemical reactions with the same spirit of cooperation that we bring to the entry.  He weighs our samples; I pour the liquids.  I finish his sentences when our teacher asks us questions; he explains to our bench-mate how terrible I am with a calculator.  We talk about paying the cable bill while assembling electrical circuits, discuss entry scandals while writing up our lab reports.

We haven’t even killed each other yet.

Having two classes and two labs with my Co has actually been pretty ideal, because now we have ten hours a week where we’re certain to see each other.  Which is nice, because here’s something they don’t tell you in JA training: if you don’t have two classes and two labs with your Co, you’re probably not going to see him for ten hours a week.  I learned that the hard way this fall.

The Co relationship is a strange thing to try to describe, particularly to people outside the Purple Bubble.  It’s something that I have refrained from writing very much about so far, simply because I haven’t really been able to pin it down in my own mind.  Sometimes, I feel as though my Co and I can tackle the world, one minor entry-emergency at a time.  Sometimes, I feel as though we’re strangers who happen to live on the same floor.

My Co and I were strangers, not too long ago.  After briefly toying (read: having a major psychological battle with myself for weeks) with the idea of Co-ing with my best friend, I decided last spring that choosing a Co that I didn’t know would be a fun adventure.  After all, I was already pretty close with my best friend… why would I deny myself the opportunity to become really close with someone new?  That was my rationale at the time, and I will be the first to admit that it was mostly fueled by the adrenaline rush that is JA-dating.  Still, I don’t regret the choice.  It’s fun now, to sit in the common room together and tell our Frosh about our first JA date, how we went on a campus tour and got yelled at by a mother for talking too loudly.  Or reminisce about our second date, when we swear we were almost killed by radioactive pigeons at an abandoned dog-racing track.

For me, it was Co-Love at First Sight.  Or, rather, at first date… I remember thinking about halfway through that I had found the right Co for me.  In reality, we had first met in the fall of sophomore year, when I was his Bio 101 TA and then started dating his entrymate.  But until JA dating began, all we knew of each other was based on assumptions- I thought he was quiet and kind of standoffish, he though I was type-A and a tough grader.  I promised my boyfriend I would go on a JA date with this boy but didn’t think much of it, and so we met one Friday afternoon for what I thought would probably be a waste of time. I was wrong, and the rest, as they say, is history.

By the time fall JA training rolled around, we were inseparable.  I grew Co-dependent at an alarmingly rapid rate, due in no small part to the fact that I hate carrying things and my Co has a big backpack.  Plus, he’s good at piggybacks and easy to spot in a crowd.  In all seriousness, though, I think that it’d be tough to not get really attached to your Co during training, a week designed with the intention of scaring the snot out of all the wide-eyed future JAs.  Surrounded by the doom and gloom of sexual assault and alcohol poisoning and grief counseling and eating disorders, my Co was the person I clung to like a life raft.  Suddenly, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, so it was a comfort knowing that at least that one other person would be there for the ride.

Oh, we had quite a ride all right.  I know that I’ve mentioned (too many times, I’m sure) how difficult I found the transition between the fantasyland of First Days- where one’s entire existence is dedicated to being a JA- and the harsh reality of life as a JA/student/athlete/friend- where one’s entire existence is a frenzied search for balance.  If anything, my Co had an even tougher time of it.  In a word, we struggled.  And somewhere along the way, we both managed to prioritize the “Co-relationship” way too far down on our laundry list of commitments.

It’s not that we didn’t talk… we certainly did enough of that.  Rather, it was the sort of talking we did that was the problem.  Always, our communication was frantic, urgent.  It was the late-night e-mails I sent him outlining everything I was worried about that was keeping me from sleeping.  It was the hours-long counseling sessions we gave each other, when we both thought our lives were falling apart.  It was the sitting-on-the-bathroom-floor-with-a-sick-Frosh discussions, when we worried that we were doing everything wrong.  It was a very necessary sort of communication; I don’t know how I would have survived without him.  But at the same time, it became a little toxic.  In my mind, my Co ceased to be a new friend that I had embarked on the journey of a lifetime with, and started to become this other, all-too-essential side of my own being.  So whenever he let me down, he let me down hard.

Thankfully, that didn’t happen all that often.  Against all odds, we survived the fall and emerged with a surprisingly intact and well-adjusted entry to boot.  But, to be frank, I missed being friends with my Co.  I missed hanging out with him when we weren’t in crisis-mode, missed getting to know him outside the context of entry life.

So, as dumb as it may sound, I’m really glad that we’re lab partners.  This semester, we sit next to each other in class and do homework together in the library, and I feel that we are slowly growing a friendship much less bipolar than the one we had last semester.  It seems like we’ve gotten a second chance at the Co-relationship thing… just in time for our Frosh not to need us anymore.

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