Keeping in touch with people when they’re not in the same room as me has never been my strong suit. As a senior, I was already worried about maintaining long-distance relationships with the people who have been walking distance from me for the past four years. Now that our time together has come to a screeching halt months earlier than planned, I am at a loss for how to salvage these friendships, some that were just beginning to grow. However, with one text from my roommate, I began to think hope might not all be lost.
Freshman year, my roommates and I stuck around for winter session. Along with some other scattered friends throughout our floor and others in Redding, we got caught up in an epidemic of our own creation: an obsession with Words with Friends. I don’t remember how it started or how it ended, but I can clearly picture drawn out meals in Kent dining hall, sitting across from friends who became my virtual opponents. Meals would last hours as we got caught up competing for the longest word, while making every effort to block the triple word spaces that could be used against us. One game per friend wasn’t enough either. We each easily had two or three games between us at a time, and we would immediately begin a rematch each time a game ended. The individual games were impossible to keep track of, making it hard to remember who won and who lost. The perfect combination of luck, strategy, and skill, Words with Friends kept our minds sharp as we procrastinated those long winter days away.
Like I said, I don’t know how it ended, but in the past three years since that first winter session, I haven’t even thought about the game. In fact, when my roommate texted me in the first week of the quarantine, asking me if I wanted to start up the addiction once more, I had to redownload the app. What started as a friendly game between my roommate and me took on the same momentum it did our freshman year. As the games and opponents started to increase exponentially, spreading contagiously throughout households and across state borders, the expectations kept rising. While ten and twenty-point words were acceptable at the beginning, I now find it hard to settle for anything less than thirty. There’s a sort of excitement that comes with breaking forty, fifty, sixty points, accompanied with not seeing your opponent in person but feeling them exact their revenge in a torrent of tiles overlapping with your own. Continue reading