When I was in college, I never once slept in a dorm room.
For the first couple of years, I chose to stay at home. After all, the house was just a block from campus, I didn’t have to have a roommate, and, most importantly, I didn’t have to eat in the cafeteria. And then there are those other considerations like no one sneaking into your room at night to kidnap you and drop you off in the countryside in your underwear.
Now, 42 years later, I’m wondering if I missed something. And no, I’m not thinking the countryside in my underwear experience is that something.
I’m at a “scholars” conference. The standards must be low because they seemed happy for me to register. I’m on a beautiful campus in Nashville, Tennessee. And I’m writing from my very own dorm room. Granted, this is one of the newer units and I have a private room and bath. But, it’s a dorm room.
It was designed to hold two students. So I have two beds (in case I want to have a sleepover, I guess), two desks (which allows me to spread all of my junk over a larger area), two chairs . . . well, you understand, I have two of everything.
The beds are the most interesting feature of the room. In order to maximize floor space, the beds are elevated. (See picture.) Now, three and a half feet off the ground may not sound like much to you. But if you’re only 5’5″ like I am, “turning in” takes on more significance.
Once in the bed, everything is fine. I slept well last night, except between 11 p.m. and midnight when the folks staying upstairs apparently dragged a trunk with a body in it up the steps and then tumbled it around in the room right above mine. Those college pranksters!
The dismount from the bed this morning was exciting. It didn’t have to be, but I had forgotten about the elevation situation and athletically catapulted myself to a place where I thought the floor would be. I eventually landed at its actual location. Picking myself up and dusting myself off, I limped through my morning ritual and was soon ready for the day.
Since this is a conference with a majority of the meals included in the registration fee, I ventured off. I remember thinking, “This is just like college. Sleep on campus. Eat on campus. Go to class on campus. Everything on campus.” I was thrilled with the simplicity of it all and I was a little jealous of college students.
The breakfast was quite good. The only challenge was that the caterer had run out of regular coffee. I reluctantly drew a cup of decaf and muddled through what was otherwise a pleasant experience. When I completed my meal, I noticed that I had an abundance of time before my first session.
Another great convenience in modern times is the on-campus Starbucks. On my arrival there was no one in line and I ordered my grande Pike’s Roast and mentally prepared for the kick-in vitality I would soon feel. And the baristas were quiet friendly — with each other. The on-campus Starbucks is obviously a great place to be a student worker and they all seemed fascinated with each other’s lives. So much so that the young lady who was charged with filling my cup with coffee seemed totally incapacitated from pulling the lever. Each time she would raise my cup to the spigot and start to dispense the hot java, she would hear something from a co-worker that prompted her to respond. A full three minutes after I paid, I received my cup of black coffee . . . after I politely asked if she needed any assistance. I watched closely to make certain she didn’t put her finger — or anything else — in my cup.
And I began to think, maybe being on campus constantly isn’t the dream world I thought it was.
So this afternoon, I had a little extra time. “Since I’m right on campus, I’ll just run to the room and stretch out for a nap.” But once here, I hesitated. In full daylight the bed looks even higher and more formidable. And nothing in the provided dorm furniture even remotely resembles my recliner at home.
And I continue to think, perhaps being on campus even for a little while isn’t the dream world I thought it was.
I’m not through with Day 1 of the conference yet. I miss my bed, my recliner, my own coffee maker. And don’t even get me started on missing Nancy, my beloved bride of almost 39 years. At this point, I’m even missing Wonder Pup, that hellion of the back yard . . . that sweet, adorable behemoth of a puppy.
Two more days. Good class sessions to look forward to. Good meals. Good conversations with colleagues. Good times.
And a good understanding of why I never lived on campus.