Maybe I started loving you in the kitchen. I remember one late Sunday morning in fall: I could smell something cooking, cinnamon-sweet, wafting down my hallway. I looked in to find a group of my friends huddled around the stovetop, French toast a-sizzling in the pan and dinner-party jazz ("Happy Moods" by Ahmad Jamal) filling the light-soaked room. The smell drew more and more people until the kitchen was filled with friends and mismatched plates and borrowed silverware and merry chatter. We all sat shoulder to shoulder around the too-small dining room table, and, when the last piece of French toast was gone, we sat in a lazy silence as the warmth of our bodies and the sun through the window made us drowsy.
Or did I fall in love with you in the bathroom? Maybe it was all those bleary-eyed conversations muddled by toothbrushes ("hey, you. . .did you sleep ok?"). Or maybe it was the black Sharpie graffiti on the inside of the bathroom stall ("I don't love you anymore"). Anyone who knows you can bond over your so-called "imperfections": the sinks that never release more than a trickle, the showerhead that spits finicky little jets of cold water, or the abandoned stone ring that has been sitting on the counter unclaimed for weeks.
Though maybe it wasn't the kitchen or the bathroom. Maybe it was the windows. They're huge, stretching nearly from one side of each room to the other. On a warm day, the light starts to filter through in the afternoon, all golden-orange, and casts everything in a soft glow. When it rains, those giant windows are covered in thousands of tiny water droplets, distorting the outside world and casting long, warped, speckled shadows on the floor. On a cold day, you can watch the snow collect on the peaked rooftops of all the quiet houses in the neighborhood, free from the chaos of what’s below.
I guess I don't know precisely what it was. But somehow I let my guard down and you became an implicit part of all my memories, a constant feature of the background. Fall feels like traipsing through your community garden, searching for any wayward raspberries that haven't yet been picked. Winter feels like venturing out the front door during a blizzard and jumping into the snow drifts built up around the trees, then hurrying back inside to warm up by the heater, leaving wet boots in the hallway. Now spring feels like throwing the windows open in my room, letting in the warm breeze and the sound of birds chirping and little kids in bright jackets playing at the daycare across the street.
If I'm being honest, it wasn't love at first sight. When I first met you, all sullen and quiet and brutal edges, I even resented you. No, there was nothing remotely beautiful about your construction. You simply were—steadfast and utterly boring to my naive eyes. How ignorant I was to think that your beauty would have been visible from the outside. Now that I have had the pleasure of your constant company through these last three seasons, now that I know you inside and out, I am deeply and unabashedly in love with you, dear Perkins Hall.