By Malia Mendez
At the end of my freshman year, I could not have been more eager to leave my dorm. There’d been moments throughout fall and winter quarter when I felt myself already dreading the day I’d have to take the gold lights down and leave my room barren. By spring, though, this sentiment was long gone.
I dreamt of returning to my hometown room, where my bed was at a comfortable step-into height, rather than a jump-onto one. I had a full-size mattress, and when I rolled over in the middle of the night, my feet didn’t startle me awake as they slipped into thin air. I could turn the lights off when I wanted to, and not after a rigorous attempted reading of my roommate’s alertness, enduring awkward silence and finally asking permission to flip the switch.
Freshman dorming is a relinquishment of many forms of autonomy and a development of others, but I was glad to rid myself of the dependency on another room inhabitant, regardless of how much I liked her. For years I’d had the privilege of a personal room, partially since I was the only girl and my parents insisted that my brothers share. I’d missed the luxury of owning my own space, choosing when it was occupied or when it was just reserved for me.
Thus, applying to Ng was steeped in excitement over having this personal space again, whether it be a miraculous sophomore single or a two-room double. Being the introverted kid through and through, when I drew for a two-room double, I established from the beginning that I’d be happy to take the inside room, and my roommate was glad to hear it. I fantasized about having isolated respite, sleeping whenever and for however long I wanted to, and changing clothes without finding the nooks of the room that are hidden enough for you to retain comfort but not so enclosed that you limit the body movements you can make.
And yet, over the past week or so, I’ve found myself actually missing my one-room double. I often reach a point of wanting to return to my room for the comfort of feeling done with the school part of my day, but when I realize that no one else will be there, I am unsure I want to go back at all. After all, it is not that I need to be alone to rest, but simply to be back in my space. Coming home to the freshman dorm may not have always been so restful, but at least people talked to the residents in the room across from them. Ng genuinely reminds me of the Hotel Cortez in AHS; it always feels insanely empty (and eerily quiet, like where are all these humanities kids going anyway? Because we know it’s not the severely committal STEM clubs or career fairs).
It strikes me how incessantly in life I have had “the grass is greener” slap me across the face. When I’m here, I want to go home. When I’m home, I want to be here. When I’m in class, I insist that doing work alone would be better. When I’m working, I insist that class would be far less taxing. When I’m by myself, I want to be with people. And when I’m with people, I honestly just want to be by my damn self.
Needless to say, I thought I’d be far more obsessed with being in my room than I have been, but that also may be an indirectly healthy thing. No matter how much it drove me insane when I was trying to pack for this place, I can appreciate the value of Stanford’s freshman rooming system. Living with someone gave me a fast friend, and though we weren’t really close until the winter, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I could come home and tell her anything, which was invaluable during my rough transition into university.
My little room is cute and smells of vanilla, but it is always just a little bit lonely, even for an introvert.
Contact Malia Mendez at mjm2000 ‘at’ stanford.edu.