My Facebook timeline is filled with photos of dorm rooms.
The students I taught during my ninth year of teaching are now heading off to college, and a few of them have been gracious enough to “friend” me so that I can come along for the ride. Some of their dorm rooms are more chic and stylish than any apartment I ever lived in, but others remind me very much of the two years I spent in Jester at UT. Jester may not have been “cool” but it was affordable and sufficient and made a fine home-away-from-home. I made some good memories there.
I also found some good memories there.
The Stories That Hide Under Our Beds
In 1996, during my freshman year at UT, I found beneath my dorm room bed treasures dating back to 1977. The proof that no one had vacuumed under there in nineteen years came in the form of photographs and newspaper clippings and receipts and the student ID card of a girl who had lived in my room ten years before me. Being the packrat that I am, I kept these things, tucked inside my journal, and spent the next several years wondering about their owners. The ID card intrigued me the most. Here was a name and a picture and a date. I couldn’t help but speculate about the life of this girl named Amy Spear.
One year ago today, when I opened my old journal and stumbled upon these relics again, I finally decided to try to find her. So I posted her photo and my story on my blog and asked my readers to help us unite.
Twenty-four hours later, I had a Facebook friend request from Amy Spear. And six days after that, I was buying her a cup of coffee and learning all about her life.
To read the whole story (which involves a leprechaun and a trip to Houston and a batch of homemade cookies) click the links below:
Poking Around in the Past
As I scroll through the first week photos of the college freshmen I know, I see a lot of words like start and new and beginning and first and ready. Everyone’s looking forward, focusing on the future, determined to make those college dorm rooms their own.
My advice to you is this: Enjoy the newness of your space and make your memories there. But don’t spend so much time looking forward that you forget to look back… or under. There’s history in those rooms you now inhabit. Beneath the floorboards and countless layers of paint, stories lurk, and maybe a few friendly ghosts. Poke around a bit. You never know what (or who) you might find.