Letters from the Hedge: Moving Out, Moving On

If everything goes according to plan (I am notoriously pessimistic and won’t be convinced until I actually have the key in my hand) this will be my last night living in a dorm.  Ever.  Furthermore, it will be my last night ever sleeping in a single bedroom, which wouldn’t be as big of a deal except I’ve had the privilege of a single room for the past calendar year.  Most of my things are packed, the proper documentation has been filed, I have a plan for how tomorrow is going to go … I have mixed feelings about leaving.  On one hand, I am 22, and to be honest it’s probably time for me to start growing up.  On the other hand, this has been my home for the past four years, and to think that I’ll never live here again is just so strange.  What am I going to do with this, my last few hours in on-campus housing?  I dunno, probably watch anime or play The Sims.  I never said my life was exciting.

Five Things I Won’t Miss About This Dorm:

1. The soda machine in the basement.  I’m truly not addicted to caffeine at the moment.  I can skip a full day, or even a week, without coffee and not get a headache or depression or any signs of withdrawal whatsoever.  So why do I still happily spend $1.50 on a drink that has over half the caloric value of a full meal??  Probably the only reason I didn’t get very fat and become very poor during my years at college was because the soda machine only accepted cash and I never had any.  Ah, but now it takes credit cards.  Truly the dark times are upon us.

2. The noise.  I was far more sensitive to sound when I was younger, to the point where certain prolonged noises, especially muted talking and laughter, would actually cause me to burst into tears.  But still, it’s very annoying when it’s 3 AM, you have an important midterm in eight hours, and everyone in your hall is still up.  I don’t blame anyone for this.  When 250 young people with wildly varying schedules and interests are crammed into one building, tensions are bound to run high.  I still won’t be sorry to say goodbye to these thin walls and crowded halls, though.

3. The all-you-can-eat food – and the eating environment.  We’re all adults, supposedly, so the serveries offer healthy food as well as hamburgers and pizza, so one can decide for themselves exactly how much calories and nutrition to consume.  I tended to go on kicks where I would eat exactly the same thing for months in a row.  Freshman year, every morning for breakfast I ate Lucky Charms and Yoplait.  People teased me about my unhealthy choices more than once.  My typical breakfast senior year was either scrambled eggs and biscuits or breakfast tacos and a glass of Coke.  That couldn’t have been any healthier, but I also ate almost all of my meals at my desk or computer while working instead of with people, so I was spared any snarky comments.  I’m very afraid of people watching me eat or cook now because I have no idea what they’re going to say about me.  Or my food.

4. The distractions.  It’s become a running joke (?) that I hate chemistry, even though I’m a chemistry major.  My hatred of chemistry courses, combined with the multiple other options available to me, created a study environment that would probably be challenging to a much more disciplined person than myself.  My boyfriend, whose GPA is approximately 5 million points higher than mine, lived off campus for three of his four years and consequently (he says) found it easier to concentrate because he wasn’t around for any study breaks or campus parties.  Since I don’t have a car and can’t afford the $2.50 for the light rail 7 times a week, I expect\hope that the same thing will happen to me.

5. The fire alarms.  Let’s see, what was my favorite fire alarm?  The one where it was 30-something degrees out and I forgot to bring a sweater?  Or the one where I got caught getting out of the shower and had to go outside with a wet body and wet hair, soaking through my pajamas?  Or the one the night (morning) before all the math finals?  I didn’t have a math final that semester, thank God, but I felt so awful for everyone who did.

Five Things I Will Miss:

1. Free everything.  Free toilet paper and soap.  Free heating, electricity, Internet, and water.  OK, technically it isn’t free because someone has to pay your tuition, but it all comes included, which is nice.

2. Free maintenance and housekeeping.  Yes, we have communal bathrooms, but they get cleaned for us.  Over the summer I had sugar ants in my room.  I just asked maintenance to come spray my bedroom, and within a few days all the ants were gone, and I could use my laptop again.  (I’ve heard horror stories about ants crawling into machines.)

3. The all-you-can eat food.  I probably ruined my cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but those waffles, bean and beef burritos, savory crepes, and dinner rolls were so worth it.

4. The distractions.  The last time I visited my boyfriend he said, “You know, I sort of envy you.”

“Why?” I asked, because I am really obtuse sometimes and forget that I actually have it pretty good.

“Because you’re involved with your school,” he said.  “You were involved with theatre, and writing, and community outreach, and -”

“Shhhh,” I said, even though it’s true, I was so heavily involved with different extracurriculars at one point that I ended up on the email listservs of both the student-run theatre company and the English department.  Although my grades almost certainly suffered, I have no regrets.

5. The friends.  Once I got that tiny little boost of energy to get up off the floor and go outside, I found a whole range of wonderful people.  I met them at parties, and through study breaks, and in classes, and through Facebook (!) and through student jobs, and the more people I met the more of their friends I met.  Since my university is pretty small, I could almost always find something in common with any new person – maybe we had both been in the same chemistry section freshman year, or maybe we went to the same concert at the music school?  Since my university is also physically small, I could meet up with friends at a moment’s notice.  Sometimes I didn’t even bother to change out of my pajamas or put on a bra, which let’s be honest, would be a bad idea anywhere outside of a university campus.

These four years have been a wild ride, with some of the best – and worst! – moments of my life happening in the very building I’m now writing from.  But now it’s time for me to go, so someone else can begin the wonderful, terrifying, crazy, life-changing experience that is life at college.

There are approximately 4 months, 1 week, and 4 days until I graduate.


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