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Disha Hoque

Dishin’ it with Disha: A goodbye letter to my freshman dorm

I’ve always been a sentimental person. I’ve kept journals and diaries since I could hold a pen, I have bibs from every race I’ve run stored in a box, and I’ve made scrapbook pages filled with receipts and printed wrapping paper since fifth grade. I save dried corsages from high school dances and “BFF” necklaces I never plan on wearing. I take photos of everything I find worth looking at again, from random stickers I find plastered on poles to clouds I think are pretty. My dad frequently teases and accuses me of having a borderline hoarding problem, but despite this, I still can’t seem to part with the little mementos that come with all of the experiences I’ve lived, regardless of how sappy or dramatic I’m aware I seem.

Now, as I sit at the desk chair in my now packed-up freshman year dorm, my moving bags filled with items from the past year, I feel a mix of loneliness and gratitude. How could a room that, just yesterday, held so many memories be so quickly left without a trace of the past nine months? I feel like the kid who would cry on the bus ride home on the last day of elementary school, but then I realize how lucky I am to have something so sad to leave, even if it is just for a couple of months.

I remember preparing for graduation and starting college less than a year ago, when I felt similar emotions saying goodbye to my friends I had grown up with and a town that had started to feel a little too small for me. Now, while saying goodbye to my new college friends for the summer, I feel a similar bittersweetness as I had in August.

I remember sitting in my “real” bedroom just nine months ago, only an hour away from campus, wondering how I would ever love a place more than I loved the bedroom that had offered me so much comfort through grade school. That room saw tears after bad days at school, laughter from sleepovers with friends and countless dance parties at 2 a.m. I remember lying in my childhood room wondering how anywhere else could know me as well as that room did, and scared to move into my freshman dorm and start college.

Now at the end of the school year, I sit at my freshman year dorm room desk and unexpectedly feel a similar way about my dorm as I once did about my childhood bedroom. How could I ever love a place as much as I love my second floor dorm room? I wasn’t prepared to feel such a sense of belonging and gratitude toward a space I was initially so fearful of. My dorm room held so many unexpected new experiences, like meeting my roommate for the first time and later staying up with her every night talking about anything that came to mind, our first time getting ready for a “real college party” and a space where so many people had slowly become our closest friends. How could a room know me better than the one that held the encouraging sticky notes my roommate and I had left for each other before exams or had my first published articles decorating the walls? The scratched up cabinet drawers and cinderblock walls had somehow come to be covered with memories of the past school year and highlighted all of the new experiences and growth I had experienced in college. Looking around these now barren walls, I feel a little lost on how any other space could understand this even half as well.

My dorm room had held a myriad of pieces of the academic year, like the trashed and matted light blue rug that became a spot for friends to sit on and debrief about the past night, share niche childhood board games on and dance on when getting ready to go out. The rug, along with other central parts to our previously decorated dorm, was now in the dumpster outside of our hall.

Sometime between finishing decorating our dorm room and trying to turn in my assignments on time, I’d found visitors in this room that wipe away my tears and listen to me go on about how much I love to write late at night; friends who will sit with me at the library on a Saturday night as I work on my procrastinated homework; friends who are more than willing to walk to Sonic with me during a thunderstorm just because I was excited for 99 cent corn dog day.  

As I sit in my now-empty freshman dorm, with all of my belongings shoved in tote bags and cardboard boxes, I think about how many others have sat in this same room in years prior and felt the same way. I think about the worn out sharpied names on our door frame of previous residents of room 233, and the leftover floral contact paper in the drawers that initially offered my roommate and me reassurance that our room was, in fact, a “girl room.” I look out the window, the same window that was frequently used to call out to friends and people watch, and wonder how many others had just as hard of a time saying goodbye both today and in years prior.

I’ve grown accustomed to coming back to my dorm room with displayed flowers on my desk, the stolen spoons hanging up on our cabinet doors and to friends coming to hangout every evening. Knowing that next year I’ll be in a new dorm room, with the task of creating a whole new set of memories and experiences, feels both exciting and daunting at the same time.

I know I’ll be back in a few months, but I feel sad knowing my everyday routine will never be exactly like the memories I’ve made this year. Despite this, just because my room number is changing, the quality of my college experience is most likely not going to.

Keeping mementos and being sentimental about spaces is part of appreciating new experiences, but moving into new spaces and experiences never stops. Part of being okay with change is knowing that these meaningful experiences exist outside of physical objects and places, a lesson I am still learning.

A lot about myself has changed in the last nine months, from the length of my hair to the people in my close circle, and feeling nervous about the future probably isn’t disappearing anytime soon. Despite this, there is joy in knowing that the amount of people I care enough to say goodbye to is only growing with these new experiences.

I am still a sentimental person. I leave my first dorm room with saved wristbands from Halloween, random gifts from friends, and a stolen dining hall spoon from the first week of school packed away in my bags, hoping that I will leave the next year feeling a similar way— so full of love and not sure what to do with all of it aside from keeping small reminders of it.

Disha Hoque is an incoming sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of  The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Disha know by tweeting her @dishahoque05.

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