Empty blue mattresses

June 24, 2011. Blue and white caps and gowns dotted the football field. From my chair in the front row, I remember thinking to myself, “I will never be in the presence of this exact group of people ever again.” 

Since then, I can count on one hand how many people from my high school graduating class I’ve gone out of my way to see since that June evening over two years ago (the answer is three –– not kidding).

But my lack of friends from high school is an entirely different matter; the real point here is that there are moments we seriously can never get back. And places, too. Physical locations are just as important.

Polka-dots galore, welcome to my freshman dorm room.
Polka-dots galore, welcome to my freshman dorm room.

I adored my freshman year dorm room. I have so many memories trapped within the walls of room 157 in Loughlen Hall. My friends and I watched Jenna Marbles videos and snuggled in my bed. We got fancy with wine the night before one of my finals and shoveled handfuls of classy taco cheese down our throats, the next-best thing to Gruyère.

It hits me when I remember that room doesn’t exist anymore. And some of those people in the memories don’t even attend the university now. We’ll never recreate that group of people or the place we once called “home.” The then-polka-dotted walls are back to their original white cinder-block state, with lonely bed frames housing empty blue mattresses.

I’m currently in limbo, picturing my dorm room from this past year instead of looking forward to a new white box to call my home. And what I’m thinking of and picturing doesn’t even really exist anymore. The frame does, the touches that made it Emily’s Room don’t.

Next time you’re in a group of friends, look around. Memorize facial expressions and laughter. Take the time to discover what each person contributes to the gathering and ponder what it would be like if he/she were not there. How do your surroundings make an impact? What if you could never return to that particular place? You’re living in a moment that may never present itself again. Cherish it.

I hope that if/when my parents sell my childhood home, the new owners take the time to look it over and imagine bare feet tearing through the different rooms and up the staircase. I know I will be.

The minute that “SOLD” sign is posted, I’ll have lost access to a portal containing countless memories; one that can never be reopened once sealed.