“It’s not a story. It’s your life.”

College was a strange but exhilarating time for me, as it is for many kids with strict parents.

Freshman year, I met Ames. We quickly bonded over a love of emo music and the fact that we were nerds who weren’t socially awkward. Ames’s parents own a house on the east side of Athens, where we lived from sophomore year until we graduated. We named the house Odessa, after the Texas town featured on the awesomely bad show Heroes. Even after we stopped watching Heroes, we continued to call the house Odessa.

Ames and I often joked that we weren’t just roommates, we were soul mates (and thus dubbed ourselves “rolemates.” Though, other friends also called us the Odessans.). We made midnight Kroger runs, because it was a pain to shop for groceries at any other time. We threw awesome parties. We got matching tattoos. (I have it on my right shoulder blade, while she has it on her hip. But that’s a story for another day.) We cooked and drank together. Most importantly, we helped each other through the trials and tribulations of our college lives.

Eighteen years of repression from overbearing Filipino parents has two possible effects: you’re either conditioned forever to seek your parents’ approval in everything you do or you slowly start to live for yourself. I did the latter. After leading a sheltered existence, I wanted to have crazy tales to tell.

After graduation, I worked in LA for six months. While I was in LA, we had weekly Skype video chats. As always, we texted everyday. The following January, I boomeranged back to Georgia. That summer, I visited Ames. We sat on the Odessa back porch, drinking wine and talking. So much had changed — we changed — yet our bond stayed the same. We’ve continued to have our “real talks,” when we hash out issues and offer (sometimes bluntly) honest advice.

“It’s weird, Ames.”

“What is, Sam?”

“I wanted so badly to get out of the South, but when I did, I realized it’s home. I’m glad to be back.”

“I’m glad you’re back, too.”

“Though, there were some epic stories from living in LA. I doubt anything as exciting will happen now that I’m in Georgia.”

“It’s not a story. It’s your life. Cali was just one chapter. Plus, it doesn’t matter if what you do is ‘story worthy,’ as long as you’re happy.”

Since then, I’ve mellowed. I don’t do things just to add to my archive of shenanigans. Ames and I don’t party like we did in our college years. We’re responsible adults. Still, we’ll always be rolemates — part of the family that we’ve chosen.