So there I was, wandering the Internet for a work project on dorm essentials, when I started to wonder if anyone had posted a photo of my old dorm online. It would be kind of cool to take a look at the old place, maybe inspire me to write a fantastic post, so I typed in A. Richards Hall and hit Enter.
Up popped a Wikipedia article with a tree-shrouded photo and everything. It was just as I remembered it. A two story building made of pale red brick, shaped like a shallow U. Each side held six apartments with a large common area in the center. Each apartment had three bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. A sort of perilous bathroom, meant for multiple occupancy. Sink in the middle, then on the left, a shower and a toilet, on the right, a bathtub. Each of the amenities had a flimsy shower curtain to shield you from the prying eyes of whoever else was in the bathroom at the time. What the designers did not figure into their plan was my crazy roommate who found it hilarious to take a Polaroid of us in the shower or on the pot. She would snap a photo and run through the apartment holding it over her head while the injured party chased after, sometimes wet and dripping, trying to get the picture from her before it could develop.
The walls were made of cinderblock painted in candy pastel colors. The bedrooms were lime green, the hall strawberry pink, the kitchen a warm lemony yellow. Many of the holes in the cinderblock were half full of paint which was a good thing since a couple of my roommates were fond of throwing pies at each other. Luckily their pies of choice had fillings the exact same color as the walls. As long as they threw lemon in the kitchen and strawberry cream in the hall, it didn’t matter if they missed a few spots in the cleanup.
We lived in Apartment 8 which was upstairs on the right front of the building. There was a large tree outside, but since it was Winter Semester, it wasn’t much more than an impressive array of sticks. Which one of the pie-throwing roommates thought made it perfect for festooning with her roomie’s underwear in order to celebrate her birthday. Of course, more pie throwing was required in response.
They also stole a sawhorse. A 12 foot blue and white striped sawhorse. Brought it up the back stairs into the kitchen and left it there for weeks. It was right there for all to see, visible from our huge kitchen window, but the campus police never showed up to claim it. Eventually everyone got tired of going over or under it to get from one side of the room to the other and it disappeared as mysteriously as it had arrived.
At the end of the semester, we were presented with an award for most spiritual apartment. Obviously the other girls in the building didn’t know about the sawhorse. Or the pies. Or the Polaroids. But we all shrugged and grinned like we deserved it.
Chockful of memories, I went to Images and typed in Heritage Halls, the name of the entire complex of buildings A. Richards was a part of, hoping for more photos.
And got a picture of a steam shovel taking a huge bite out of the side of one of the buildings.
I went back to the first photo and there beside the pretty image were some dates. 1953-2012. In fact, most of the images had dates beside them. 2012, 2013, 2014. Big renovation project. Not enough room. Not enough electrical outlets. Everything was being replaced, removed, upgraded.
Apparently A. Richards had been one of the first to go.
More searching, more destruction. I thought of the candy colored walls tumbling down, still embedded with ancient bits of pie. Of those useless bathroom curtains fluttering to the ground. Of all my happy memories landing in a pile of dust.
I found a photo of the new hall, four stories tall, beautiful, modern, rising like a gorgeous young phoenix from the ashes of the old one.
But it wasn’t my phoenix.