On Jan. 23 when my email ringtone went off, I left my Principles of International Law book to check the message. It read: “Housing Assignment.” At first, I was perplexed as I looked around my double-room at Florence Moore Hall, not knowing how to react. Skimming through the email, my confusion turned into pin-point clarity: They decided to move the students of my hall to another building. The first thing that popped into my brain was the memory of my endless number of boxes, sealed with silver tape, tearing my back muscles with every step closer to my new room. Honestly, I was not looking forward to packing my whole room again, and undergoing this burdensome process, but sometimes, the challenges hit you before you can hit them back.
Everything happens for a reason. Yet, I couldn’t comprehend the reason behind all the uncertainty suddenly manifesting in our daily lives and in the months that have decayed ever since the clock struck midnight on Dec. 31. I would compare the current situation to skiing on a steep, rocky and unpredictable slope, covered with a thick layer of ice. It is foggy on this journey. Our bodies are sweating; our hearts are filled with fear and anxiety. We can’t see what’s ahead of us, and the scenes mutate and mutilate with the blink of an eye. Change used to be pleasant. Now, change is a storm on this slope, puncturing the silence just when everything seemed to be settled and frosted on the surface.
Saturday, Jan. 23 at noon, I find myself facing a tall, elegant pink building, designed with greenish vine leaves and coronated by naked trees. I stare at it for a good while, scrutinizing the finest details of its majestic architecture. At first, I thought it was some kind of historical heirloom that was meant to be admired, not occupied, but turns out it was my new home for the next 10 days. As I walked towards the gigantic door, it was inscribed in gold on glass: Roble Hall. I felt so tiny, so short, so young next to the enormous columns guarding the main entrance, sculpted with gothic motifs. And then, there was the piano, worn-out wood by the generations of Stanford students that have bounded through its patterned keys, generations that have sat in pairs on the black leather chair to sing along to melodies crafted by the pedals and the heart. I imagined myself maneuvering a musical world of mine, following the metronome’s lead, drafting each triad to match the exhilaration that kicked into my being every time I listened to a harmonious arpeggio, mimicking the pulse with my hand to regulate my excitement, humming the newly written amalgam of major and minor key that surprisingly told a story. I guess they were missing the commas, the exclamation and interrogation marks, some punctuation, or what we call in music, some staccato. Staccato … yes, it is definitely the right word to describe what I felt on that Saturday morning, in a place I never visited, yet one that I would call home for the next eight weeks. A whirlwind of emotions, so timely, yet so flair and in an uncommon span of inexactitude.
From the moment the news was revealed until the sight of the piano, I could not comprehend the purpose of this sudden transition in the midst of a global transition, but as I rested on the green velvet couch facing the instrument, it all made sense. I was relocated to find one of my missing pieces, one I never thought was absent in me, one that I used to have and that I lost with the fast-paced life we signed up for while growing up. I think Roble is a place where I remember what once made me smile, where I reconnect with the lost music notes that used to rhyme with my daily routines. Ever since quarantine started, I stopped singing. I stopped playing the piano. I stopped enjoying the sound of my voice merged with the warmth in the air. I forgot what it felt like to dive into the music world and willingly drown into its beautiful margins, unwilling to reach the surface again. I think this missing piece is my nostalgia for the things I loved and the reignition of a long lost passion: music.
At that moment, I left my brown boxes in a corner of my room and rushed to my computer. Opening my music instrumental playlist, I found an old video of myself singing at one of my school’s talent shows. Smiles and tears were covering my face, seven years later; ironically, it was my mom’s reaction to my performance seven years ago. I was watching my younger self unfolding purely and innocently her passion before the eyes of strangers, and she was proud. I paused the video and took a deep breath, and it felt like this will of revealing my musical sensitivity spurred again from the sight of that old piano and the remnants of a passionate music melody singing in my within.
Since the first night at Roble, I have not stopped singing. It was as if I rocked myself to sleep, or maybe, I had to sing to let my thoughts blend into the night, to let my thoughts transform into dreams.