My poor apartment has had an empty bed in it for over a week now. The rest of the house filled up quickly with summer staffers from all over Europe: Romania, Hungary, Sweden, Estonia… it’s like an international hostel! Yet apparently no one wanted to live with the American at the end of the hall.
Then, one night, a mysterious suitcase (covered in blue polka dots) appeared in my little living room. I checked the airport bag-tag to try and learn something about this strange new twist. The only hint I received were the bold letters: RIX. Google told me that this referred to Riga International Airport in Latvia. My curiousity was killing me, but I restrained myself from probing further into the suitcase and instead changed into some less-golfy clothes and went downstairs.
When you pack 40 twenty-year-olds into a house, there is bound to be a party. Of course, we all work long shifts so nobody is going crazy. But every night there is always a gathering on the front porch. Guys bring down cases of beer (Mythos and Amstel are popular Greek brands), girls share laptops and look at pictures online. One person has a car and cranks up the speakers to provide a very eclectic soundtrack of EuroPop, American rock, and traditional Greek songs.
I can’t say I’ve spent too much time hanging with the crowd outside; I usually say a quick hi before running upstairs for a shower before I crash for the night. But this particular night, I needed information. And I knew somebody downstairs would have the lowdown on my new roomie.
I stepped out onto the porch and was greeted with a round of “Hello”s. One guy offered me his chair (such gentlemen around here!) and I jumped into the conversation. Everyone has heavy accents, but they all speak English fairly well. Viktor (from Romania) was outgoing and started asking me about my job at the golf course. I was soon laughing at his stories from work and nearly forgot my purpose for coming down.
“Oh hey… does anybody know whose suitcase is in my room?” I asked amidst the numerous voices that were talking and shouting.
A girl who I had met the day before, Elysse, said, “Have you met your new roommate yet? I bet she’ll come down in a minute. She’s with Erica.”
“Oh okay? Is she nice? What’s her name? Where is she from?”
Elysse frowned slightly, “I think she is from Lithuania. She is very nice. You will like her.” I didn’t press her again for a name.
It was only a few minutes later that I got to ask her myself. She popped downstairs, with a big smile and a long braid winding around the back of her head and down her back. Elysse waved her over and introduced her as my new roommate.
“Hi! I’m Rima,” she said in perfect English with only a hint of accent. “It’s so nice to meet you.”
“Hey, I’m Debby! I had no idea I was going to get a roommate… I’m so glad to have you move in!”
The awkward “wow we don’t know each other at all but we’re going to live together all summer” moment occurred, but we both just smiled… She went to go talk to some friends and I assessed the situation. Well, there wasn’t much real analysis to do. Rima was great. Super cute, with long dark hair, chocolate brown eyes and a smooth tan from working outside the last few weeks (she’d been working at the resort, but had originally been set up with some terrible housing). Later, when we went up to the room to split the closet space and pull out fresh towels, we realized just how much we had in common. She is 21 years old (only 2 weeks younger than me), loves to dance, is really trying to learn Greek (we have decided to memorize at least 5 words every night), and can match me for talking! Rima attends Lithuania Christian College, which, when she described it, sounds like a Lithuanian version of Wheaton. Talk about amazing.
We’ve stayed up much too late the past few nights, getting to know each other and making plans for the rest of the summer. She knows of a tucked-away beach that is the home of an old, naked hermit; I told Rima about my interest in archaeology and all the ruins I want to go visit. She brings home apples from the main staff cafeteria; I collect bags of oranges from the fruit trees on the golf course. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship…