Date: (fall 2003-spring 2004)
It wasn’t much to look at. Granted, I wasn’t expecting an expansive, well-furnished room for a dorm at Harvard — and in fact, I was grateful, compared to the crap Berkeley and Stanford dorms I had been exposed to, my rooming setup was VERY nice.
But… my immediate thoughts were, “damn, I have to spend a whole year here!?” I felt what I could only describe as a mild sense of claustrophobia. Then the nausea set in…
And the name… Wigglesworth? Had there seriously ever been a rich person on this planet named “Wigglesworth” who might have possibly donated this wing? I mean, maybe I’m being prejudiced here, but I’d NEVER do business with a guy who’s name sounds like it came out of a Harry Potter book.
And in fact, I did resist. Mercilessly. While many campus counselors and “guide to college” books and guides that I consulted recommended decorating a room as a means of learning to treat someplace as home, of learning to adjust and adapt, I steadfastly refused. I put up nothing but my books and what I needed for my studies. I refused to think of this place as home. This was where I slept and worked. That’s it. Nothing more. Home was back in California. Home was where my family was. Home was where I grew up. This. was. not. home.
But, as classes piled on work, and as I developed friendships with the people here, the room — which I had once detested just didn’t seem so bad. “Cramped” became “cozy”. “Dirty” became — well, “homey”. It was a place where I could relax, where I could hang out. I remember one day in November, I believe, when I looked down at the hardwood floor, cracked and splotchy in color, and covered in dust, and, despite its obvious imperfections, it was, to me at least, a beautiful sight to behold.
My “roommate” was from Boston and, for some reason, preferred to live off campus — I was thus left with an entire double to myself — my own bedroom, my own bathroom, my own common room. (To this day, I believe I’ve seen Andrei for a total time of less than two hours) And when it came time to head to the airport for my flight, I realized that I had just been a stupid idiot who hadn’t realized just how good the housing lottery had been to him.
My rooming situation, to this day, has never been as good as that of freshman year. And, no room since has ever been quite as homey to me.