A Motel, a Dollhouse, and College Dorm All in One



You are graduating from college. That means that this is the first day of the last day of your life. No, that’s wrong. This is the last day of the first day of school. Nope, that’s worse. This is a day.

-Andy Samberg

Since I recently wrote about my college apartment by the cemetery and my current “noisy neighbor” (who is still singing every night, by the way), I thought of an infamous college dorm I lived in my junior spring. Enjoy!


I arrived late at night. I pulled my luggage through the snow and ice, the cold air hurting my eyes. Spring break in New England—delightful.

I stood in front of the white, shabby two-story building that would be my home for the spring quarter. The dormitory resembled a two-star motel, the kind you might invest in bedsheets from a local Walmart before spending the night. As I stared in disapproval, I promised right at that moment, that if I ever became a rich alumna, I would donate a whole bunch of money to tear this building down, build a beautiful new dorm, and slap my name across the front.

Before walking in, I noticed that all the windows were dark, and I realized that I must be the first person back in the whole building. No lights were on in the hallways either. I reached over to where a normal person would choose to put the light switch, but we’ve already established this building needs to be torn down. I left my luggage by the door and felt my way down the hallway, searching for the light in vain. The hallway didn’t have windows, so with each step, I plunged further into the darkness. I felt like I was in a horror film, and the whole audience was yelling, “Don’t go in! Don’t go in!” but then I go in and die.

Well, *SPOILER* I didn’t die. The only horror is that who ever designed this building, put the light switch a good twenty feet from the front entrance. I’m sure that when they looked at the blueprint, they imagined the dozens of college students who would fumble around in the dark, lost and alone, looking for the light, and the architect thought this would be a clever metaphor for college life.  This is the only logical explanation.

As people moved in, I realized the building had greater flaws, the worst being the paper thin walls. The dorm was like an auditory dollhouse. You know how a typical dollhouse has a side without a fourth wall, so that you can see what’s going on in all the rooms? Well, this building was like the “sound” version of that, meaning I knew what was going on in the rooms next to me, the room across, and the room above. I could tell when my neighbors got home, when they brought friends over, when they brought lady friends over, the whole shebang. There are few things worse (and yet more quintessential) about campus life than working on an essay past 1am, then hearing moaning coming from the next room…

The walls were so thin, you could make out normal conversations too.  I heard one of the guys next to us bragging about having been the president of his high school debate team. He spoke like a jock reminiscing on his glory days. My roommate and I accidentally laughed too loud, and he immediately stopped.

Another time, I woke up to wailing coming from upstairs:

WHYYYYYYYYY!?! Whyyyy am I so drunk?! Why, why, why, whyyyyyyy—

The crying was interrupted by loud stomping, and I imagined her running towards the bathroom in their room. Loud gagging and vomiting noises ensued.

“Ah, our country’s young intellectuals and future leaders at their finest,”

I thought, then went back to sleep.

About the picture: This is from a two-star motel that found a smart way to repurpose their pool. I love that they left the plastic lounge chairs. I aspire to this kind of ingenuity.


4 thoughts on “A Motel, a Dollhouse, and College Dorm All in One

  1. This brings back so many memories… The first dorm I lived in had a major problem with sewer gnats. Every time you took a shower, you could kill 20 and there would still be more the next time you went back. The next year I thought I moved up in the world but when I studied abroad, the building they put all the international students in was actually condemned while we were there and was torn down over the summer. Not at all bitter about that, not at all.

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