The first time I walked back into this room I felt overwhelmed by the silence that consumed it. Everything was exactly where I had left it. It had the aura of a ghost town–clearly lived it, yet that life had evaporated from thin air. Books were strewn across the desk, laundry was still in the dryer and a damp pile was in the washing machine. The scent of plum body spray faintly lingered. The bed was made. I yearned to sit in this room forever, yet I could not get out fast enough.
My parents started packing my things, but I just laid on my back and absorbed as much of the room as I could. The room was filled with mundane memories, but also terrifyingly dark ones. It made my heart pound. I hated watching my room be stripped of its character. I said goodbye to bear walls and a vacant closet as if the room was a corpse. I feared that I would never be there again.
Just walking into the room, I remembered crying myself to sleep, laughing with friends, and the screaming and sobbing of the worst night of my life. I sat down on the unmade bed and cried. It was easy to compartmentalize the memories when I was back home, but when I saw the carpet that I had collapsed in a tearful mess onto, I could not ignore the memories. I could not help but second guess myself. Maybe coming back was a mistake.
A few minutes later, there was a knock at my door. It was a girl. “I’m Jen,” she said, “We didn’t know when you were coming.” I recognized her from her Facebook profile that I might have found when I first got the names of my suite mates. We talked for a few minutes and then she went back into her room so that I could unpack.
Admittedly, I was terrified; I was living with freshmen. Technically, I was a freshman, but it was my second semester. I felt like an outsider in my own school–the friends I had already made probably moved on and I hated meeting new people.
For some reason, I stayed. I stayed even when my parents asked if I wanted to leave five times. I assured them I could handle it, but I wondered if I was assuring them or myself.
Somehow, that was nearly eight months ago. Somehow, I am finishing my first semester as a sophomore. Somehow, I am going to leave this room in less than two weeks. After almost three semesters, I will never live in this room again. I will be living in an on-campus apartment next semester.
Someone else will be sitting at this desk in August. Someone else will put their posters onto these walls. Someone else will laugh hysterically in this room. Someone else will cry in this room. Someone else will return from their first college party and lay down in the bed, wondering how they got to college when freshman year of high school feels like last week. Someone else will get their heartbroken. Someone else will call this modest room home.
I tend to think this room is mine. I tend to think it holds my presence since it has been with me through more than my childhood house has. I sometimes imagine that although this will not be my room next year, it will still have my character. That, however, is a pretty narcissistic assumption. Rooms are inanimate objects, and they hold whatever presence is in them at any given time. Just as I will move on, this room will.