She showed me how to put effort into a college friendship
When someone walks from BC to Random for you, you know it’s the real deal
Early into freshman year, I got a fifth week flag. I had failed the first 8.01 exam and had to make the decision of whether to drop to 8.01L or bust my ass to try and pass 8.01. Eventually, I decided that freshman fall wasn’t the time to be busting my ass.
I left 8.01 for 8.01L, leaving behind a friend from high school and entering a class a month into the semester not knowing anyone taking it. I stumbled into class awkwardly the following Monday morning and was greeted with “Hey Ivana! I didn’t know you were in this class!” from a girl I didn’t know. After a moment, I recognized her as the girl who sat in the front row of my 7.012 recitation room. I mumbled something to her about having just added the class, trying to brush over the fact that I had to fail an exam before doing so.
Flora says she thought I was cool. She made an active note of my name the second I rolled into class wearing bright orange overalls, two-inch heels, and dangly earrings. I didn’t make note of her name because I was hiding in the back of the class with Joush, my high school friend turned security blanket. But then she started leaving the seat next to her open for me in 8.01L. And then it was open in 7.012. And before I knew it we were psetting together for both classes. We even made a habit of attending 7.012 office hours every Friday, going so often that we befriended our TA and still get meals with her two years later. She was the first person who wasn’t my GRA to ever use a guest swipe on me. She would even come pset with me at Random. When someone walks from BC to Random for you, you know it’s the real deal.
But we didn’t really have time to pset together for 8.02 in the spring. Flora was on lacrosse and I was on frisbee, and our practices and games took up all of our time. She wasn’t on the meal plan anymore and spent more time cooking in BC. She declared 2 and I declared 6, so none of our classes could ever overlap. But Flora didn’t see me as a convenience friend, a friend you’re only friends with because of your classes or extracurriculars or living group. After freshman fall, she actively attempted to remain in my life. She scheduled lunches with me, called, always texted to check in. She showed me how to put effort into a friendship in college, at a time when it’s so easy to just stop talking to someone the second they leave your common circle.
Since then, I have shared zero classes, zero extracurriculars, and zero living spaces with Flora. At the beginning of every semester, she asks for my calendar so she can find a mutual hour we share to catch up every week. And she never wavers from it. She’s been at all three birthday parties I’ve hosted at MIT. She’s taken me home to Connecticut on more than one occasion. She’s the only one I was comfortable enough calling when I was on an Amtrak train from Chicago to Seattle, unsure of how to use a tampon because it was the only thing offered to me when I forgot pads. (In the end Flora insisted I ask around again because “A moving train with a tiny bathroom is not the time you wanna learn how to use a tampon!”)
Flora’s the person who taught me how to make time for friends when you don’t see them normally, and that’s a skill that’s going to come in handy right about now.