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My friend is in college and lives in a state-of-the-art, brand-spanking new dormitory. She has air conditioning, a laundry room for her floor, and her windows look out onto the quad. Excluding the latter, that could be a description 160 Mass Ave— or even 150, for that matter. As you might have guessed, I do not live in one of these two dorms. Which in my mind isn’t a huge deal, because I’m just happy to have a dorm at all.
I’ve suffered from insomnia ever since I was in sixth grade, and because of that I knew I needed to be in a single. I didn’t want to put someone through the shit show that is an all nighter for me— I’ll spare you the details.
For months I waited to hear if the school would honor my medical accommodation request. I worried the whole time because if they denied it, I would have to take a break from work to go apartment hunting. That was the last thing I wanted to do. My accommodation did come through, however. I couldn’t care less if they put me two miles off campus next to a guitar principal who played with his amp on 9 at all hours of the night. I was just happy to be able to live in a dorm.
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For those of you who have never seen it, 98 Hemenway is a gorgeously run-down building. Even though it’s early in the semester, I can already tell I’m going to love living here. I have friends on my floor, I get along well with my suite-mates, and I have my own closet and share a bathroom with only two other girls. I have a pretty sweet set up.
The lack of air conditioning, which means I’m sleeping in shorts and a sports bra with no sheets. It also means trying to fall asleep to the quiet, dulcet tones of my box fan on the second highest level (the first level sounds like a jet plane taking off, so I’ve relegated that to times when I’m out of the building). If I didn’t have issues falling asleep before the fan, I do now. If you live in one of the air conditioned dorms you’ve ever wondered what it would feel like to spend the night in an air popper. You’re welcome to spend the night on my floor. Except not really, because of the whole insomnia thing.
Don’t get me wrong, life in 98 is wonderful. Except the fact that my room faces the space between our dorm and the next building. Unfortunetly, When my blinds are open anyone can look in. When I say look into my window, I mean William Prescott would have been firing like crazy because not only can I see the whites of their eyes, I can see the whites of their too-tight Calvin Klein underwear. I can also hear everyone practice when they leave their windows open. Their windows are always open because, remember, no air conditioning. Then there’s the screaming. I am treated to a nightly symphony of rock music, operatic runs, and what sounds like dying college girls having a little too much fun for the hour.
On top of that, every so often the sweet aroma of lung cancer seeps into my room. Which is to say that every once in a while my entire room reeks of cigarette smoke. I consider myself lucky on that count,however, because my friends’ room overlooks an alley that hosts smokers of both cigarettes and marijuana alike. It’s kind of become a game, seeing who can smell it first. When life gives you lemons, am I right?
The stairs slant and we currently only have two washing machines for the whole building. The elevator is small and slow and doesn’t reach the basement. We have one run-down lounge. We have practice rooms with less-than soundproof walls, and one lone recycling can. 98 is not paradise to say the least.
But people help you carry your shit up the stairs. They hold the door, and introduce themselves, and if you need help you can ask. Our RAs made a crest for the dorm, and there’s a Facebook chat for all class of 2020 kids in our building. We walk together to class because we have a lot of time to kill on the way. There may not be air conditioning, but there’s heating and that’s more important. Sometimes my room smells like smoke, but I can always close the window or, you know, get out and actually do something.
Yeah, the stairs aren’t even so I have to walk up them extra slow. It kind of sucks to spend an extra hour doing laundry because of the wait for a machine, but for god’s sake I made friends in those two hours. We bonded over the clothes left in one of the two working machines, making jokes and exchanging advice, and I find it hard to believe that we would have met if we hadn’t been in that situation. I now have two more friendly faces to recognize.
As anyone will tell you about 98, we’re a tight-knit group. Honestly I’d take that over air conditioning any day.
I'm a singer songwriter from the suburbs of Chicago who's obsessed with marching band, writing poetry, words no one uses, and Pinterest.