With my first semester of college officially in its final stretch, I think I need to extend my greatest thanks to the place that keeps me going everyday: the Pauli Murray dining hall.
I don’t know if you remember, D-Hall,* but I first met you back in April. The flowers were blooming, a capella groups were singing and thousands of prefrosh diners were lined up outside of your magnificent double doors as we tried to squeeze dinner into our packed Bulldog Days schedules. I thought you wouldn’t notice me, a shy high school senior glancing hungrily at the endless buffet behind your grill, filling my plate with nothing but desserts, but I’m so glad you did. With just one taste of college life, I fell in love with you, D-Hall.
By some stroke of fate, in August you became MY dining hall. I mean, I guess you’d really been the MY dining hall all along, but I couldn’t help but feel like we were put together for a reason, you and me.
We’ve had some adventures in our short four months together, now haven’t we D-Hall? When I returned to campus, you weren’t ready for me. I spent all of Camp Yale cheating on you, with Morse and Stiles, of all places. It felt wrong, D-Hall, to treat you with such disrespect. But it’s what all of the scary, highlighted emails told me to do. Waiting for you to open was the longest week of my life. I walked past your beautiful stone facade, just waiting for the day to come, when I would once again get to eat in your plain, white-walled room. No moose head. No walrus bones. Just me and you, baby.
The honeymoon period of our relationship was stupendous. I made you a priority, even dropping a class so I could visit you at lunch on Mondays and Wednesdays. I greeted you every morning with a smile, and you welcomed me with open arms. Even on the days I didn’t brush my hair, you offered me warmth. And ice water. I would spend hours with you. Introducing you to all my friends from other colleges, letting them know that MY dining hall was objectively the best.
I can’t lie though, we’ve had some rough patches. Nobody’s perfect, not even you, D-Hall. Sometimes, when you serve cauliflower three days in a row, it pisses me off. I’m an Aries — I need excitement. Variety. Don’t play me with that bland shit. And, D-Hall, remember that time you tried that new thing? That thing you’d always wanted to do? Well, it made me uncomfortable. Nowhere on this good, green earth do cranberries belong in Brussels sprouts. And don’t even get me started on the grape pizza. I was just starting to get over my pineapple problem, but that’s the X Games mode of pizza. And I don’t play sports.
I just wish I could be this honest with you all the time. I know you ask for suggestions, even leaving me a golf pencil to write on half of an index card if they’ve not gotten soup spilled on them, but the thought scares me, D-Hall. Some days, I just can’t pick up the pencil for fear that someone will see me, and then they’ll know my secret. I’m a California vegetarian, and all I really eat is quinoa. I am a walking, talking stereotype. And you love me for it, but will they? Will the athletes who eat 12 eggs at once take pity on me, and my bowl of undercooked grains? Or will they laugh, D-Hall? I’m just not prepared to face that yet.
But I hope that with time, we can get to that place in our relationship. I’m in it for the long run, baby. I’m living in the moment with you, not thinking about the three-and-a-half year expiration date on our relationship. I want to learn from you, grow with you, return all of the silverware I’ve stolen from you. Maybe one day, if you’ll let me, I’ll build my own hummus bowl with the hummus that’s available everyday. Who knows how it’ll stack up against the artistic swirls you offer me every fourth week, but it’s worth a shot.
You’ve given me so much, D-Hall. The stress of finding a seat and looking like I don’t have friends (I have one now, I swear), the sweet potato fries that I eat by the bowl and regret later when my belt’s too tight, and most importantly, a place to call home. Here’s to growth in the new year that we will spend together. It’s me, and you and sweet potato fries against the world. I love you.
*The Pauli Murray dining hall is an establishment, not a person.
Audrey Steinkamp | firstname.lastname@example.org .