The first thing I noticed when I got off the elevator on Hogan 7 was the laundry room. I had never lived on the same floor as a laundry room. Then, I noticed there were no other suites on this floor. And the last thing I remember really thinking about when I actually walked into my suite was the skylight. An actual, living, breathing skylight. And yes, it was slightly dusty, but the high ceilings and the inescapably bright sunlight could only be captured by two words: luxury living. This was the high life.
When I came to Columbia four years ago, I had a lot of dreams about what college living would be like—popping in and out of friends’ rooms, intellectual conversations running deep into the night, shared kitchens with sloppy shelves and easy cooking—and, on Hogan 7, I didn’t realize that I had been given seven months to live out those dreams.
Under that skylight, I cried long and hard after a painful heartbreak, I watched Disney movies among faded blankets, eating Trader Joe's Sea Salt Brownie Petites, and drinking cheap wine, and I both offered and was offered boiling water for countless mugs of tea. I spent hours in the dimly lit hallway talking to friends who were running to class or heading home from a long day at work, laughing in hushed whispers as not to disturb someone who was cramming for an exam or heading to bed early.
On March 16, as I quickly crammed stuff accumulated over four years of college, I tried not to think too much about what the next few months in the suite would have looked like. Pictures in beautiful outfits against the one nice wall before fancy senior events. Longer hours of the sun beaming through the skylight as spring bloomed in its full glory. Friends congregating and family streaming in to celebrate the end of college careers. But most importantly, more movie nights, more tears, more tea, and more conversations built on laughter, incredulity, and pure abandon.
I am not back home yet. Like the rest of us, I don’t know when the pandemic will pass, and for reasons involving quarantines, international flights, closing borders, and visa applications, I don’t know when I will board an airplane to Bombay. I spend half my days talking on the phone—with old friends and new—and I visualize where they might be sitting. Where do they call home now?
And yet, I do not miss Bombay. It will always be there, waiting for me. I just miss the skylight.
Enjoy leafing through our fourth issue!