The Next Dorm

Jon in his freshman dorm room. Next year he’ll have more space!

Tomorrow is the final day of classes at my son’s university. After that comes exam week, and then freshman year is over and he comes home for the summer. It’s been a strange year, with a lot of back-and-forth when campus closed because of rising covid numbers and students were sent home, and when Thanksgiving break and winter break were extended. Even on campus, most of the classes were online, with students tuning in from their dorm rooms.

Last year around this time, he was agonizing (and procrastinating) about finding a roommate and a dorm room. He ended up in a freshman residence hall in a good, central location, which was fine. He and his roommate were a luck-of-the-draw matchup, and while they lived together mostly amicably, they never really became good friends.

For next year, he originally talked about moving off-campus. His dad and I would have allowed it if it was what he really wanted, but we thought he’d be better off staying on campus, and in the end he agreed. Living off-campus means dealing with landlords and leases, having no intermediary if things don’t work out with a roommate, paying utilities, and having to figure out what to do if the pipes freeze or something breaks. I wasn’t sure he was quite ready for that; I like the idea of having another year with more of a safety net. Besides, this year’s freshmen were gypped out of a real campus experience, and I wanted him to have a chance at that.

I was afraid he’d have trouble finding someone to room with. With so few classes in person this year, and so many other activities canceled or held virtually, freshmen haven’t had the usual opportunities to meet people. But last month he suddenly told me he’d found a roommate. He said, “His name is Jonathan, he’s a Music Composition major, he plays violin, and he has perfect pitch.”

This sounded familiar, so I replied, “You’re getting a single?”

No, it’s actually another Jonathan who has a lot in common with my Jonathan, down to the curly hair and glasses. Last week was their scheduled time to choose a room in one of the upperclass dorms. They got their first choice of buildings! They’ll be in the one building that is on-campus apartments, and it’s very close to the music department. They’ll have a one-bedroom furnished apartment with a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and living room for the two of them. So they’ll have space for my Jon to leave his piano set up all the time, which should be useful for two music majors. They can get some space from each other, if someone wants to sleep while the other is entertaining friends or is studying. And there’s a full kitchen, so they can cook for themselves if they want to. There is even a Subway sandwich shop and various recreational areas in the building. It’s more expensive than a regular dorm, but it wasn’t unreasonable.

After they chose their room, I received a message from the other Jonathan’s father, suggesting we get together sometime this summer. Since the Jons will need dishes, cutlery, pots and pans, small appliances, and other items for their apartment, it seemed like a good chance for the families not only to get to know each other, but to work out who can supply what. We’ll wait until next month, when everyone’s fully vaccinated. I’m looking forward to meeting them.

I am feeling so good about the fact that he just went ahead and found himself a roommate this time! Last year’s procrastination and shyness about asking someone led to him rooming with someone he hadn’t chosen, with mixed results. He also looked into the dorm possibilities on his own, without me having to push him, as I did last time. It’s nice to see him taking responsibility. And I have a good feeling about the other Jonathan and his family. I think this is going to work.

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