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Experiences

COLLEGE: THE PERFECT PLACE TO BUILD A HOME

After days filled with shed tears and prolonged goodbyes, which were referred to as ‘See you later’ from my sympathetic friends – I am back home.

‘Home’ taking on a loose meaning in the most recent time period of my life. As unpredictable moves and fragmented relationships began to consume me, the essence of ‘home’ was harshly ever-changing. I was being dragged down into the depths of my psyche with negative words and people being the cinder block chained to my ankle. With my thrashing arms and lungs begging for air, a break from putting the needs of others before me and forcing myself to the confinement of standards enforced by a fictional jury that ruled my every move. Austin, my University, dorm, and self, felt like a current of negativity I would never break free of. 

Yet, as I sit on a barstool, in a house that falls under my fathers name – I feel myself beginning to catch my breath. I feel the sentiment of home encompass me, from the soles of my feet, to the braids that sway from my scalp as I nod my head to distant sounds coming from the laundry room. A sentiment that can only be described as warm and welcoming, I feel the tension in my body unravel like a ball of yarn. However, I do not believe it is the barstool I’m sitting on that is invoking such a feeling (despite how comfortable it is) or even the house and the rooms producing distant sounds. As cliche and corny as it may sound, I believe that this warmth is coming from within myself. A seed planted within me that has begun to sprout despite the external circumstances. This sprouted seed symbolizing my personal growth and comfortability in companionship that is entirely my own. 

A development that occurred during my first year of college. 

Yes, this piece is indeed a review, recollection of events, and reflection of a completed college school year that pressed for a more mature Alexa. One that feels the need to refer to herself in third person… 

To begin, let’s not brush off the first sentence of this piece – I have cried an unfathomable amount these past few days. In fact, I’m positive that I will shed several more tears as the distance between myself and those who are dear to me further sets in. Recalling an article I wrote so long ago, I am working on turning these emotions into a glass half full view point for myself. As I aim to acknowledge the luck that has been bestowed upon me when considering the meaningful relationships I’ve formed during this school year.

Saying goodbye (or ‘see you later’) is something I’ve found I’m not quite good at. I’m the person that won’t stop looking back as I walk away. The person who will ramble about nothing so that I may spend a few more fleeting moments with the person I am meant to be departing from. Though, the kindness from the universe that brought such beautiful souls into my life (joining the pre-existing ones), is a debt I can never repay. 

To the friends I’ve struggled to part from as water evaded my eyes while my heart felt heavier than a ton of bricks, I am eternally thankful for you. For the unconditional support and love you’ve given me during times in which I, myself, didn’t believe I was worthy. To my loves that reside in the town I’m from, that I get to see more of now, and everyone else in between – thank you. Without the love, encouragement, spite, and at times what felt like pure hatred, I would not be the woman I am right now. The woman in the stool typing away and telling a part of my freshman college tale. 

Let’s embark on my fall semester, which I can only describe as polarizing. In all honesty, this semester was rough. It did get better as the end of it neared, but I believe that my suffering can be used as a learning lesson for not just you all, but myself – as I reflect on and process the disarray of events that occurred. 

To note, the story I’m recounting is strictly from my point of view, along with the emotions that were pulled out of me. The names of those involved in the story told have been changed and minor details about their lives have been altered in the slightest to avoid any unnecessary drama. However, if the people involved read this piece and wish to publicize it, I sincerely thank you for the promotion.  

Without further ado, here is a moment or a memory of a school year that pushed me to embrace the home I’ve created for myself within myself – which will hopefully only grow as I experience the plethora of semesters that lay ahead for me. 

DORMS, ROOMMATES, AND THE JESTERS

Yes, when referring to Jester in a plural manner as seen above, it is me sharing that I have lived both the West and East lifestyle within the same school year. I am nothing if not a world traveler in between the two of these buildings. In fact, comparing the Sun to myself would be completely valid – not just because I am the light of everyone’s life (please read the sarcasm here) but because I began/rose in the East and set in the West. Enough with my marginally funny similes and self fulfilling metaphors; moving from Jester East to West was an event I never wished for or wanted for myself. I mean what person would, after enduring the massive change from the comfort of home to a cinder block walled room with one window – and in my case a roommate that made this space all the more joyless with her inconsiderate actions. 

I’d like to believe that through my attempts to better myself and the energy I radiate, I have forgiven said inconsiderate roommate with time. I realized that carrying this animosity towards someone who seemingly valued me with very little regard, a statement based on the constant carelessness of her actions, was hurting me more than anything. I was the person who moved out of our dorm, who wept for hours on end by myself and to my parents, I was the individual who was mistreated. This might seem a bit extreme and I am trying to avoid completely painting myself as the victim because I’m sure in her recollection of the ordeal she is. Let me halt the postponement of telling this story, which is my side of the all-too-common affair of having a very bad, no good, terrible roommate… 

Prior to moving into our dorm room together we had already been in a spat over something we had different viewpoints on and had limited our communication after I pointed out inconsistencies on her end. Instead of taking this as a sign to not move in with this girl, I let it slide as my passiveness got the best of me. I also feel as if I just wanted things to work out so badly, that they would if I put aside aspects of my own comfortability in the name of up keeping a friendship. I mean, in hindsight I realize that I did not particularly like this girl, as she isn’t someone I would normally feel a connection to – but our dads are friends and their excitement for us to be attending the University together was on par with ours. I felt the external pressures to make this situation work and internal ones as well, as her presence would begin to consume my life. Her brazen behavior and skill to find the negative in every situation began to impact me to some degree. This prelude to the actual events that called for a move were all just red flags I strolled past with my rose colored glasses on. We were truly doomed from the start but I persisted regardless.  

In all sincerity, I also tend to be the type of person who will make a million excuses for someone in hopes of rationalizing something I know is wrong. I give people the benefit of the doubt often at the expense of my personal well being. Yes, I am fully aware that this is a very unhealthy way to go about life – I am openly acknowledging this and working on it in one of mankind’s greatest creations (next to the Twilight Saga and Milkshakes): therapy! This build up to an inevitable end was an issue that I may have enabled to some degree through such unresolved issues…

But, the story all began with the Austin City Limits (ACL) weekend one musical festival. I was to stay in an Airbnb to avoid a commute from the park to my dorm for my friends, but to also spend more time with said friends. I was going to be away for Friday and Saturday night, with plans to make my dorm room return on Sunday. Which is what happened. I went to the festival, I had a blast and as you all know (if you read my other articles…) almost fainted while waiting for Phoebe Bridgers to play – a success story in my book! When Sunday evening rolled around I texted my roommate that I was on my way back, with plans to take a shower and go to bed immediately. I was, of course, exhausted after such a physically and emotionally draining weekend, as anyone would be. 

As promised through my text message, I did indeed shower and sleep when I got back. I knew that an early morning of emotional farewells to my friends, who attended the festival with me, lectures, and an accumulation of work I didn’t do during the weekend waited for me. 

See, what I wasn’t expecting was some guy in my roommate’s bed. 

Something that we had both agreed to when signing our roommate contract was a ‘no sleepovers’ rule. We had both followed it until this moment and the rule was something I thought she didn’t care about having imposed on her. We just agreed to it and moved on – but when it was being agreed upon there was a mutual expression of relief from not having to endure anxiety because the other wanted a stranger to sleep over. I also wish to make it extremely clear that my reaction isn’t rooted in the war against sexually liberated women, it comes from the blatant disrespect and potential danger my roommate had put me in by having this person I don’t know stay the night. After what felt like 30 minutes of lying in an emotional puddle of shock, fear, and confusion, I got up to get dressed. Walking away as I let the door slam shut loudly, the anger began to bleed into the other emotions that consumed my being. 

I took my time getting ready (despite being late to meet my friends due to the paralyzed adjacent state that overtook me) with hopes that when I returned they would both be gone. We would have to discuss the situation later because I knew that I was still in too of an intense emotional state to participate in a well articulated conversation that would just end with even more intense emotions arising. However, the sliver of hope I had about them being gone evaporated with the breeze produced from me opening the door and seeing that they were both now awake.

To make a long story short, she saw no issue with what she had done and tried to start a conversation with me despite my visible agitation. They quickly left, I sent her another text stating we would talk later which she replied to with an apology – which I had assumed meant reality was setting in for her. But once again, this girl’s inability to self reflect would affect me furter. When I arrived back at the dorm a couple hours later, this boy was back in our room. And no, she did not ask. Once again. 

The laugh of disbelief I couldn’t hold back displayed to the pair that I was still unhappy with this guy’s presence in our dorm – I would also like to note that if I did want to use everyone’s names and there was no penalty, I would still have to refer to this stranger as ‘some guy’ because his name has remained an unsolved mystery in my life. They quickly left the room and once again my roommate quickly returned and tried to converse with me as if all was right in the world. 

To wrap up this story, I took time to calm down and spoke to her about how inappropriate and inconsiderate what she had done was. Bringing up how she made it ten times worse by bringing that guy back to our room after knowing I was upset. She apologized in passing and out of obligation after I commented on her lack of remorsefulness. Days of awkwardness passed and there was a fleeting moment when I believed things might work out – which was ruined as she shared some unprovoked statements made about me from that random guy. 

If this reads as less serious than the actual event, I apologize for the build up. But following this entire situation my life was consumed by negativity and stress, I felt unsafe in my own dorm and everything felt off. 

I was lucky enough to move out in a somewhat timely manner, but this was an issue that would still affect me in some way. At a later time it would be revealed to me that this now past roommate of mine was telling people that I was ‘crazy’. While blaming our issues and the sudden move on my mental health barriers. To state that I felt overwhelmed in every way is an understatement, ranging from complete disbelief and embarrassment that such things about me were being said to people. It felt as if a never ending affair of strangers getting to invade my space and aspects of my life I don’t often mention had attached itself to me. 

This story is by no means to make the future residents of dorms scared, I mean always enter a situation with caution and some form of hesitance…

I shared on a platform where it will remain infinite, i.e. the Internet, to emphasize that ‘no home/place in the world’ feeling I was often overcome with throughout this past school year. 

When I was still within the confines of that dorm room I felt so lonely. The sadness that followed was intensified as I subconsciously isolated myself to the space that was a leading factor in derailing most of the progress I had made thus far – with regards to trying to find comfort and homeliness within myself. 

With the move to West came the chance to begin patching up the regression caused, and a chance at such improvement was everything to me in that period of time. So, I looked up that classic poster of Rosie the Riveter and rolled up my sleeves ready to DIY some internal home renovations. Though there were setbacks, lonely relapses, and a myriad of crying sessions that if photographed could be turned into a compilation of random places throughout the University to cry at. 

All things considered, this time period with all its difficulties and jump scare circumstances forced me to grow. The weight that was anchoring me to the bottom of the ocean was secured with a lock that I just had to find the key to, or attend magician school and use the power of illusion to escape from- thus fulfilling my ‘Now You See’ character arc I created because I really liked the movie and more importantly, allowing myself to feel at home regardless of my geographic location. To find that home-y comfort in TV shows, books, or even through gazing at pictures pasted to my wall. Things that mean something to me, that to some degree have influenced the person I am. To find things I enjoy and attach myself to them so that despite lacking a tangible place of my own, I have media artifacts and miscellaneous objects that are infinite in both their effect on people and meanings (personal to me). Never limited by space and time, forever allowing me to bask in the solace they offer. 

Throughout my first year of college I would learn how to adapt and alter what home means to me, allowing it to be a comforting concept instead of a collection of walls and windows. College is tough, adjusting to college is a challenge that will feel catered to you and your personal fears/insecurities managing to make it feel even worse. The purgatory of teenage-hood and adulthood that most students are pushed into further this notion of not having a place of your own in the world. Of not having a home. Yet, I believe that through perseverance and patience, you’ll find yourself and the home you are to not only those around you, but you as well. 

College is what you make of it, it’s like decorating your room or customizing songs you enjoy into playlists because you know that either of the things listed mean more than just the practice of doing it. I encourage you all to plant the seeds or continue nurturing the tree that has sprouted and find that warm feeling of home within you… and of course the people that hold importance in your life as they encourage personal growth/care. Apply that cheesy, overused statement ‘home is where the heart is’ to yourself; as long as you and your heart are connected, you are home.

A first generation college student trying to navigate my college years! I'm a Capricorn super passionate about social justice, feminism, and reality TV…yes, Jersey Shore is the best piece of media I have ever consumed. While pursing a degree in Film and English my goal is to brighten your day with my articles and various 'hot takes' I have! In advance, thank you for your support and reads (because you don't know how much both truly mean to me).
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