It’s roughly 5 p.m. I’m plopped down at our six-seat kitchen table and observing my roommates as they begin to trickle in from their days on campus in search of food for their rumbling bellies. A symphony commences: microwave beeps, fridge slams, the click of our gas stove that has a laggy ignition.
This is the homey cacophony I yearned for when I was in on-campus housing—knowing you are surrounded. Doing mundane tasks together. Cleaning together. Existing together. Boiling water together. That’s what I signed up for in this living arrangement.
I love it. I do.
I really do.
Some of us come home with fresh news from the seven hours we’ve spent apart: sometimes good, sometimes bad. No matter the chatter, the movement of the scene is what I’m enamored with. So why do I still feel unsettled in this new home I’ve fostered with some of my closest friends? Why does a part of me still long for the on-campus world I left?
At home on the first day of classes, I was struck with an intense feeling. Not my senior year angst, not my first-day excitement, but something else entirely. I noticed it when my roommate was swirling her rigatoni around in the saucer we found on the side of the road. Rays of light bounced onto her feet, reminding me of how my dad used to tickle mine as a kid. I could see the orange glare asking to come in, so I quietly walked over to the window and pushed up the shade. The room was swallowed by the golden hour’s breath.
My pasta-making roommate was encapsulated in the solar glow—visibly luminous heat. Recognizable but irreplicable. It was then that I realized why our house felt so incomplete and unsettling to me.
It’s insular. It’s easy to get stuck inside. I’m quick to feel like I have everything at an arm’s length. All my basic needs are a walk away—a walk which does not require putting on my shoes. But why would I want to settle at “just enough?”
For me, home means an inside and an outside. I need time spent inside typing away on my couch in pajamas and outside warmth from the breeze weaving through grass. I’m energized by cooking with a friend and sitting alone basking in the light hitting Faunce steps. I want to sit on the roof with my roommates and smile because of the leaves falling on my head while I perch under a tree writing this.
It was entertaining to fantasize about having a home, and it’s here—so now what? I have what I wanted. But just because I have an apartment now doesn’t mean it’s the only place where life exists. I have an odd yearning for my old bed in Perkins. The chase for off-campus housing was so satisfying because it was nice to complain about dorm life. I am incredibly grateful to be living where I am. I am lucky to have the chance to do so. And, I miss campus.
I miss proximity to green spaces and running into people. The 15 minute walk from Fox Point to the green is hard to motivate myself to do, but the incorporation of both greenery and home fuels my biophilia. Humans’—and certainly my own—intrinsic love for the environment and living things has become obvious in my race to living like an adult. I never want to lose being a kid, playing in the grass, sitting under trees on the quiet green.
I have to remind myself that the word “and” is a powerful thing. Spending time soaking up Brown and the community that I’ve built for myself here is powerful. But taking time to do nothing, be alone, and acknowledge the sun’s beauty is brave.
It’s 5 p.m. and I walk into my kitchen. I say hello to my roommate making kale chips from our wilting greens, pull up our shade, and release a breath.
She turns around. “How was your day?”
“It was nice. Pretty busy, and I was able to rest when I needed to.”
I let the outdoors stream in and feel the comfort of merging my life, bound by “and.”
“How about you?”