And they were roommates…A story of friendship from First Avenue to Forest Dining Hall

The beginning

AnaBella: It was November of my sophomore year when I was checking my mailbox everyday, waiting for the inevitable letter that would let me know if I made TEENPOWER Youth Staff. I made it, and though more excited than ever, I was also anxious. I remember going into it, nervous about not knowing anybody and that I wasn’t going to make any friends. (Spoiler alert: I did.) I remember seeing Becca around and thinking that she was somebody I wanted to know more of. All I knew was that she was quiet, smart, and went to Signature. We seemed similar in many ways, and I guess others thought that too, because people would always mix our names up! I would’ve never thought she’d be one of my closest friends today.

Becca: For as long as I could remember, TEENPOWER Youth Staff was my biggest goal—I wanted to be a part of the staff team that made my favorite thing happen every summer. When I joined Youth Staff as a sophomore, I was so shy. I remember seeing AnaBella and some of the other sophomores and feeling a little less out of place. She was quiet, too. I felt like we would make good friends. Our first conversations happened in the Warm & Fuzzy committee where I learned three things: she was one of the kindest people I’d ever met, she was really good at connecting the theme to the daily questions, and she LOVED pink drinks.

Coffee shops

Becca: It was early June, the day Youth Staff was meeting at the YR office to pack up supplies and move into TEENPOWER, when my phone buzzed with a snapchat from “AnaBella Stegmaier”. I’m not sure I’d ever seen her name on my phone before. I was packing for the week when she asked for a ride from the YR office to UE. I was nervous because we’d only ever talked in groups and I am terrible at small talk. So, I did the one thing I knew would break the ice—I got her a pink drink.

Coffee and coffee shops became a big thing in our friendship. River City and chai are to me what White Swan and pink drinks are to AnaBella. In the summer before our senior year, she first introduced me to White Swan chai and their beautiful, aesthetic bagels. We sat there for hours playing my favorite game (We’re Not Really Strangers – I love playing with new people so text me if you’re interested) until we got kicked out. Fast forward to senior year, I had finally settled into my routine of studying at River City almost every day after school. One day, as I was sipping my iced lavender vanilla chai, I saw “AnaBella Stegmaier” light up my phone. She asked if I was taking calculus, then seconds later she walked through the door with her textbook and a friend. That was the first night of an entire semester of chai and calculus with AnaBella at one of my favorite places.

AnaBella: Little did Becca know that getting me a pink drink from Starbucks earns you an automatic spot on the list of my favorite people, and the first time we hung out, she handed me that grande! From that point on, getting coffee (or non-coffee, I suppose) was something that brought us together over time in a variety of ways.

One day, I showed Becca the finer things in life at White Swan, my favorite coffee place in town. I showed her the magic of their bagels and chai over a game of We’re Not Really Strangers; I felt like I’d known her for so much longer than our 2 years on staff. The way you should know I love White Swan is also the way you should know that Becca loves River City and that she’ll spend hours there. And she did, everyday during senior year. Combine this with me being awful at Calculus, and you’ll get me sitting across from Becca at River City, asking her to explain what a derivative is on a Thursday night before TAC. This became a weekly thing and though I’m grateful that she got me through my first (and only) semester of AP Calc, I’m also grateful that I was able to hang out with Becca outside of YR.

TAC, senior year

AnaBella: The more I got to know Becca, the more I was able to see how much of a natural born leader she was. Along with being a great friend, she also became such a role model for me. It doesn’t take long knowing Becca to see her incredible work ethic, passion for helping others, and feel the warmth of her soul. I got to see it on Youth Staff, but more so during my senior year on TAC’s Executive Council, where I got to watch her so gracefully lead as TAC President, a role that you would think was made for her. It was so great to see TAC feel Becca’s impact and see it thrive under her care, even during such a hard year as the pandemic. When it comes to Youth Resources, or leadership in general, you can always count on Becca and know that she’s all in. The same stands true with Becca’s friendship. She’s someone I know I can rely on and that any feelings I may be facing, she’ll have a space to care for them.

Becca: During my senior year, I got to serve as President of YR’s Teen Advisory Council. I looked up to the people that held that role before me and knew I had big shoes to fill. It was one of the most challenging parts of my leadership journey thus far. It was comforting to know that I had people like AnaBella that I could rely on as a leader, but also as a friend when I had a hard time finding my place in the messiness of programming during a pandemic. There were times where I was frustrated with myself and the circumstances we were facing as a program where I turned to AnaBella and she just held space for whatever I was feeling. There’s no greater feeling than someone holding space for you, and I try, every day, to model AnaBella’s grace and compassion in each of those moments.

Forest dining hall

Becca: AnaBella moved up to IU a few days before me so, naturally, she showed me all of the cool spots that freshmen learn about their first days on campus. It was our first time hanging out since we’d both moved in and like all first-year students, we quickly learned that finding food in the first weeks of college was especially hard. We sat in the Forest dining hall for two hours that day. It was our first real conversation as college kids. We talked about what already felt different less than a week away from home, finding ourselves in college, and, most importantly, the nachos from Caliente. I was already missing that kind of connection back in Evansville and AnaBella made me feel like a piece of home was right here with me. She reminded me that home isn’t a place; it’s in the people I love and who make me feel loved. (One day in Forest, we bought tickets to see Ben Platt live. Anyone who knows me knows that I would do quite literally anything for Ben Platt. Between YR and Ben Platt and Forest, my life was now complete.)

AnaBella: Don’t even get me started on having to fight for my life to get food during the first few weeks on campus. That was character development in itself, but Becca eventually joined in on that ride and we planned a lunch at Forest, the dining hall right next to my dorm. The lunch really served as a reminder that college didn’t have to feel as lonely as you think it does and that my support systems weren’t left at home. We were now both taking on college as freshmen, a transition that came so much faster than we anticipated. I committed to IU back in late March and at the time, no one I knew was going. It was April 30th, the day before the enrollment deadline, when I looked down at my phone to Becca texting me that she’d be at IU in the fall. I’m gonna be real with y’all—I cannot do a backflip, but if I could’ve, I would’ve done one. So it was surreal to be eating lunch with her in this environment we knew nothing about, but it’s been so nice learning as much as we can about it together.

And they were roommates…

AnaBella: Let me set the scene for you: it is 11:30pm and I’m walking back to my dorm with a group of friends after winning not one, but two games of bowling at the IMU. It’s cold but my victories are keeping me warm. As we’re walking back, one of my friends goes “Ohmygosh, they just opened the housing application.” Here’s the thing with the housing: sign up is first come, first serve. Becca and I had talked about living together in one of the on-campus apartments and planned on signing up together during the week. Wrong. It was open now and I’m texting Becca, telling her we have to sign up. No response! Why? I later learned she was watching Spy Kids — I understand but it was not the time — while I’m trying to get us a room. I’m stressed, so she leaves me no choice. I call her. I’m back to my dorm when Becca finally picks up. I’m on my computer, she’s on hers, and boom. We’ve got a second floor apartment here on campus. She went from being this girl I wanted to know so bad when I was a sophomore in high school and now she’s going to be my roommate sophomore year of college.

Becca: Let me set the scene for you: it is 11:30pm on a chilly October night. I am snuggled in bed watching Spy Kids on Netflix, something I had been waiting for for five months (no, I’m not kidding). My phone lights up but this time, AnaBella is calling. Here’s the thing about AnaBella: she loves pink drinks just as much as she hates talking on the phone. So when she calls, I answer, even though it interrupted my Spy Kids. She was frantic. The housing application for sophomore year was open and we hadn’t even taken our first semester midterms. We’d talked about living together and getting an on-campus apartment, but we weren’t expecting the application to open for a few more days. Ten minutes later, we had our rooms reserved and all was well.
In the span of 10 minutes, we reserved our rooms and the rest is not yet history because we don’t actually live together until August 2022.

Why we’re here

AnaBella and Becca: When we think of YR, the first thing that comes to mind is community. It’s the people and relationships that make us feel like home is never really that far away, even if that’s a text or call. We hope this blog has given you a little glimpse into the magic of Youth Resources and the undercurrent of love that’s instilled in anyone that gets involved. Relationship and community are an art form and Youth Resources, through both its programming and indirect lessons, has shown us that asking the right questions and holding space for the answers is a good first step in building that lifelong community that we’ve been so lucky to find at YR. Happy YR day—we hope you consider donating so more young people can have the opportunity to form life-changing friendships. Thank you!

P.S. Stay tuned to learn if we figured out how to cook or if we end up back at the Forest dining hall…