8:30am. It’s a sunny morning just outside of Boston in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts when Adalaide Diehl sluggishly rolls out of bed. Her dorm room is quite small, but a clean floor, small pictures on the wall, and a string of Christmas lights hung about make for a pleasant ambiance. A store of colorful bins lies beneath the bed, and above a purple comforter is pushed to the side. There is not that much “stuff” in her dorm room. It is not crammed with everything from back home in Upstate New York, not like her freshman bedroom, with the food and clothes everywhere, the wall mirror making the tight squeeze twice as unbearable. Trinkets piled on the mini-fridge, a glass of chopsticks on the bookshelf, a half opened drawer of snacks. No, this room is clean. It feels large, breathable, livable. It is the room of an adjusted person.
8:55am. Adalaide begins a five-minute walk east to the education building from her dorm at Roncalli Hall. Green grass grows thick on campus, and the gothic-style buildings are white, tan, and grey stone, bright against the blue sky and warming in the morning sunshine. She grabs a bowl of oatmeal to-go from the dining hall then enters into her work building where she is a technology consultant, there to assist people with all their technical problems, which largely constitutes getting the wifi password or sending an email. After her boss informs her of the cookies waiting in the breakroom, Adalaide takes her seat in a black swivel office chair and waits for people to come in, cookies on her mind. In the meanwhile she browses the Cosmopolitan Snapchat on her phone, sending relevant articles to her friends and family. The stories run out, so she opens her Microeconomics Theory notes, cookies still on her mind. Except for the sound of the air conditioning and the flipping of pages, the her shift passes in silence. I’m totally going to Snapchat those cookies. Caption: “Life is worth living.” Fam’s going to be so jealous. At 9:15 she starts her break and eagerly skips to the break room next door. Adalaide bursts through the break room doors, but to her immediate disappointment, only blondies and a rogue chocolate chip cookie sit in waiting for her. She puts her phone away: this plate is not worth Snapchatting. With a mild pout on her face, she grabs a k-cup of Costa Rican roast instant coffee and starts the brewer. Her eyes absently scan the room in waiting, only to hone in on the plate of cookies. Should I eat one? No- I don’t even like blondies… YOLO? No, I shouldn't… But what about the chocolate chip cookie, it can’t taste that bad, right? And it would be so Snap-worthy… Her eyes linger on the plate… But first, coffee. She turns around to grab her mug of coffee, but to her surprise is a large and growing puddle of steaming brown liquid in the spill-tray and on the white-tile floor. A dumbfounded look dawns on her face as she realizes that she had forgotten the mug. Adalaide quickly grabs a mug from the cupboard to catch the last drops of coffee, then with the brown paper towels provided at every minimum-wage workplace, she futilely attempts to sop up her mistake. A couple of old yellow sponges from the sink soak up the remainder of the puddle. In a few short but frantic minutes, laden with paranoia of her boss inconveniently popping in to witness her “blonde-moment,” the crisis is averted. A content expression washes over her face, only to suddenly be replaced by annoyance. Or I could’ve just dumped the drip- tray in the sink… The pleasant smell of Costa-Rican roast instant coffee wafts upward from the trash bin, hardly conciliatory but pleasant nonetheless. At 9:55 she leaves work and sets out for learning. Today’s first class is Culture Studies, a small conversational-based class of nine people. Then is Statistics in a large lecture hall, where just over one hundred students sit taking notes to the professor’s lecture and Powerpoint. Half- listening and half-doodling, Adalaide sits through class. She has her lunch break, which she voluntarily spends in her dorm. Her last class of the day begins, Microeconomic Theory. With questions very “conceptual” in nature, this class asks its students to analyze the economic principles at play in a scenario then consider possible solutions to choose the appropriate answer. That it so say, it is a difficult class. Yet Adalaide listens intently with an aura of ease about her, copious notes scrawled into a spiral notebook and looking like she truly fits, especially compared to only a year ago when she was facing hell in the Premedical program. An hour passes quickly, then she leaves the lecture hall with a friend, Melissa- short and Caucasian with long ombre-hair and a prominent jaw. Today she wears a statement belt with a large silver buckle and a white smile.
“You know, I kind of want gelato.”
“But I’m trying to be healthy and all, so like- I don’t know. Do I even really deserve it?”
The sun boils the top of Adalaide’s head, the breeze doing very little to help.
“Um, yeah. You’ve gone to every class today,” Melissa jokes, “I’m so proud of you.” At Boston College, skipping class is not unheard of. Melissa’s belt catches the light and blinds an unsuspecting passerby.
“Oh my God, sorry!”
The girls giggle to themselves until the student is out of earshot, then immediately burst into laughter, doubled over and staggering down the pathway to the dining hall.
“Did that really just happen?” Adalaide starts between debilitating gasps.
“Yeah, I think so.”
“So, anyway… gelato?”
“Yeah, let’s go.”
The girls purchase their gelato then bid adieus. Adalaide proceeds to Stokes, where she plants herself in a cushiony armchair facing a window overlooking campus. Outside bright green leaves flutter on tall trees, casting speckled shadows on the lawn. Some students sit on a bench in an animate conversation. A couple on laptops is tucked away in the shade. Others casually stroll by, off to who knows where. Adalaide rests her feet on the window ledge, mango gelato in hand, and muses about life in general. Anyone walking through that hallway would witness an image of ease, and it certainly feels this way for Adalaide, especially compared to a year and a half ago. Her freshman dorm on Newton campus was a metaphor for freshman year, with its clothes spilling about and the unconquerable claustrophobia in that crowded room, feeling as if she was swallowed whole in an endless cycle of worries about her major, her grades, her future, her social life- her everything. But this year is proving to be like her Roncalli Hall dorm- clean, clutter free, relaxing, and comfortable. She is no longer drowning in clutter; she is sailing, with her mango gelato melting slowly into a delicious slurry. She promptly finishes it, gets up, and goes to meet friends for a study session. She’s finally adjusted to life as a college student, it only took a year and a half.