Dorm rooms are built for function over form, kind of like conference room chairs are built for stacking not sitting. Dorm rooms are not interested in your enjoyment of anything. You are not here for aesthetics, you are here to wallow in the austerity that breeds great work. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.
It should not surprise me that the walls are completely bare, but it does. Or actually they are not bare. There is a mirror and two bulletin boards, one over the desk and one on the wall right beside the bed so if you wish you can lull yourself to sleep with important inspirational quotes from Rumi or Yoda. “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” “Do or don’t do. There is no try.” The bulletin boards are so anachronistic I can almost place myself in the mid-1990s, although I’m hoping the vestiges of paper attached to the staples left by some previous earnest undergrad were attached some time in this century.
I wonder if they still have the campus poster pop-up sales where you could buy reproductions of Starry Night or At the Moulin Rouge to block out some of the cinderblock. But the current equivalent for post-Millennials is probably something way more ironic or iconic, like movie posters for Ferriss Bueller’s Day Off or Pulp Fiction. Both of which are about as far removed from the current generation of post-secondary students’ life experience as Van Gough or Toulouse-Lautrec were from mine.
At my dorm room, the linen is refreshed every week whether you need it or not. The bath towels are easily large enough to engulf a small child especially if the small child still needs a car seat. The communal bathroom is not only down the hall, it is down the hall one floor down.
If you lock yourself out of your room by pressing the wrong button while turning the ergonomically correct door handle, all you need to do is walk down three flights of stairs in your bare feet, go out of the building and walk across the quadrangle to Alex Hall where the 24/7 reception desk lives. This is only necessary if you weren’t smart enough to think of phoning the desk from your room before you decided you needed to go to the bathroom and came back to discover you had locked yourself out.
But the campus is very peaceful at two o’clock in the morning, with briny air coming from an ocean that’s downhill enough to produce a breeze more gentle than useful. At least the dew on the grass almost washes the dirt from the parking lot off your feet. (Please refer to linen, above.)
Every Wednesday the internet login ID and password expires. This is because the dorm week runs from Saturday to Saturday. These are the rhythms, rhymes and reasons of dorm life. I am not giving away the farm to say my previously expired credentials are Df!p)Ulv&k^gt. When the nice summer student employee at the desk dictated it to me she said “after the ‘k’ there’s a thing that looks like a hat.” “A ‘circumflex’ perhaps?” I enquired. Did I mention this is a writing school? I think we are all doomed sooner than we think.