Thursday, May 17, 2012

And this I dedicate to CRC

Today is one of the last days of the last weeks I'll be spending in my room. For two years - or the better part of the past two years - I've loved this place. I've come to know it better than I know my bedroom at home. It's cozy and warm. There are just the right number of plugs to keep all my electronic needs satisfied. I can practically reach across it to retrieve something from my desk without getting up. It's the packrat's dream.

But in a few weeks I'll be moving out of this dorm, out of this university for the summer and out of this life that I've known since freshman year in my dorm.

We're a very tight knit community. Or at least it felt that way for me last year. When I was looking for a place to live in senior year of high school, I remember looking online for as much information as I could find. I wanted a private bathroom. I wanted to be in a location close to the part of campus I would be frequenting. And I wanted to feel like I was in a community.

Well two out of three ain't bad.

I ended up getting the chance to live in a place where I would make all my closest friends at school, where I would become attached to everything and where I'd make invaluable life experiences. And it feels like I'll never leave. But I will be. And soon.

The first day I walked into my room is still incredibly vivid. It was barren and bleak and I had a ton of junk that I was ready to decorate with. I put up postcards and papers, threw a bunch of clothes in my closet and left my shoes strewn all over the floor. And I was home.

My bed. Equipped with a Wall-E plush toy.
As at home as I've felt at CRC, I've felt even more attached to my room itself. In preparation for this year, when I was going through the motions of picking out a new living space for my group of friends and myself, I made all the arguments in favor of the suite I lived in the year before. Sure, the points were right: 1. The first floor has elevator access for easy move-in and -out. 2. There are two showers to choose from in the shared bathroom between this suite and the next. 3. Was there even a three? I think those two sufficed. But the real reason I wanted to stay in this suite wasn't because I cared so much about the easy move-in or the bathroom. It was because my room has become my home. My itty bitty cramped and inexplicably cupcake-scented home.

By the first night I stayed over, I was already feeling the loveliness of my freshman single solitude. While all of my friends were hauled up in doubles with roommates whom they'd just met, I'd been blessed with my own living space, where I could stretch out (to some extent) and feel utterly alone should I need to be.

Still, I spent days trying to warm up to my co-residents. One evening while a bunch of sophomores who already knew each other were hanging out in my suite, I joined them. I felt so uncomfortable - not knowing what to talk with them about and barely knowing them in the first place - that I said barely a word. They asked me questions and feeling even more awkward, I ended up apologizing for not speaking and saying I just enjoyed listening. Still, I felt like in some way I'd joined a family there that night.

Right outside my single room door (and down a flight of stairs) was a friendly environment with screening rooms and a big screen TV, a meeting lounge where I went every Sunday and a host of other rooms I never frequented but was always comforted in knowing were there.

The thought of leaving it all behind scares me.

Not only will I be removing myself from the ease of living in a dorm where I know everyone's name. Or from a location so perfectly located that I never have to worry about being late to class. But I'll be leaving behind a room that holds a part of my soul in it. We're intrinsically linked.

I look around and like to think about all the memories in here. The chaos of my first relationship - though none of the chaos happened in my room - and the nights of staying inside by myself wondering why I was alone but then enjoying the fact that I had my little room all to myself.

It was here that I watched the Royal Wedding in the wee hours of the morning after I'd woken up with a sore throat and a runny nose. It was here that I heard the news that I'd been accepted to study abroad in London. It was here that I sat with my dad and cried while we watched Doctor Who together before he left to return home after coming to visit me at school. It was here that I've spent hours sitting by myself and feeling perfectly content - even if the walls are cement slabs painted egg-shell white and it only takes me half a second to walk across the whole space.

The walk to the front door. And dirty snow.
I'm not ready to give it up, but I have to.

I wonder what it will be like if I ever get a chance to revisit this place in a few years. Will the next resident in my room have changed the location of the bed? Will they move the dresser out of the closet? Will their refrigerator be in a different space in my room? My room. It's a phrase I'll never get over.

Somehow I want to leave my mark. I want this to be a place that I am forever linked with because in my heart, I really am always a part of this space, this room, this dorm.

After college, I'm sure I'll look back and remember a lot of different things about my time here. I'll think about my friends. I'll remember all the fun things we did. I'll think about all the boys I've liked and the nicknames I gave them. I'll remember the hours of sitting in front of my television and watching shows so I could review them online. I'll think about the daily routine of getting up at 7:15, washing my face and brushing my teeth and embarking on the day's adventures.

And at least 50 percent of all my collegiate memories - probably more - will be associated with CRC.

The past year has been different. I haven't grown as close to the people here. I haven't participated in as many dorm activities. I haven't felt as linked to the community as I would like. But the CRC in my mind is the one that existed for me last year. When I would go to every All College Meeting (ACM) and hope that the guy I liked would show up, or when I'd go all the way to the third floor to hang out with my friend Dana and realize that even though I loved my suite, hers was infinitely better. Those memories and more will forever color my vision of this place and of these years.

It's hard to let go of my room because it's a daily reminder of two of the best years of my life. Like walking away from my childhood home or seeing my grandma sell the house that I practically grew up in, this is a place that holds a million memories. Good and bad, but mostly wonderful.

I may not be ready to let go, and maybe I never will. But I'm lucky to have had a place like this at all. Somewhere where I feel part of a family but also centered and self-sufficient.

I'm luckier than I could ever have imagined I'd be.

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