Bunk beds are utilitarian. Stack ‘em deep and wide! Thankfully, I showed up a day early to the dorms and claimed the widest and the shortest bunk – the bottom. My crazy ass roommate was stuck with the top, but he did not know that as of yet. When he did arrive, he was not pleased but never put forth an argument for the bottom bunk – he was on the top bunk, I was on the bottom bunk. And that was the extent of the relationship. We rarely spoke about the superficial and never spoke of more weighty substantial topics. There was never any quintessential freshman “why are we here” chats, but I do remember him asking several times on where to put items of mine he believed to be violating his space. I did not mind. He was quiet, and I was an introvert that needed to recharge when I entered my room – it worked – he was on the top bunk and I was on the bottom.

For this post, we will make my roommate’s name Frank. Frank had scars – lot’s of scars. I brought a boatload of baggage to the room and so did he, but his baggage was much more visible. Frank never shared his story, but at some point in his life, he was burnt. Half of Frank’s face and neck was visibly burnt. The first time I saw him without a shirt on, the same half of his chest and torso was also burnt. Later, coming out the shower, I saw his legs were also burnt. He wore his scars for the mirror and the world to see. I never asked how, when, what, or why, and he never volunteered. He was shy on Monday and apprehensive as hell the rest of the week. He was on the top bunk and I was on the bottom.

We lived together for four months. We spent most days together at some point during the day, and all of fall break and Thanksgiving break together never really speaking to one another. I was careful not to pass judgment on him for what had happened or what it had created in him. For all I knew, it was possible he was shy before the accident. Who knew if the way he was was baggage or just the shirt on his back? I never found out because he was on the top bunk and I was on the bottom.

My penitence for my actions is far less than my penitence for my inactions. When I was first reading scripture in my late teens and early twenties, I was not yet a believer. I fell in love with Peter the Apostle. He had brass balls and his faith allowed him to chew bubblegum and kick ass – and he was all out of bubblegum. He walked on water, he lopped off ears, he had big (and no) faith and big words, and he royally fucked his savior publicly three times. But he did not live life on the bottom bunk while others lived on the top bunk – he brought the two together with his actions. Like most apostles, his faith would bring worldly death – death on an inverted cross – head at the bottom, feet at the top. I love Peter. I gave my first born the Anglicized name of Petros – Stone. I pray Stone never lies on the bottom bunk while he hears someone cry on the top bunk.

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