Finding a Princeton Family
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to deal with the notion of home and family in relation to Princeton. I’m from Alabama, and the only breaks I go back for are Christmas and summer. But that’s neither the home nor the family that this post will cover. I’m thinking of the family I have made here.
It isn’t a large family. Nor is it cohesive. The only thing some of these people have in common is me. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is the way this family fills my heart with a warmth that nothing else can compare to. Princeton is a beautiful place full of intellectual, dedicated and compassionate people, but that doesn’t stop loneliness from wriggling its way into our lives. There are times when I feel like there is nowhere I belong, neither here nor in Alabama.
But when I feel like that, there’s always one place on campus that I can go to feel better: my dormitory hall. In one room on the hall, I know I’ll find a cheerful group of girls who I am lucky to call my roommates. There’s the one with whom I can have the best Harry Potter discussions, the one who laughingly calls me either mother or grandmother (depending on her mood) and the one who always gives me a huge smile when she sees me. In another room on the hall, I can find my best friend, who’s always willing to sit down, listen to my complaints and give his thoughtful advice.
This family didn’t come naturally. Some of it didn’t even come by choice. I didn’t know in my first year that I would connect with one of my roommates so much that I would join her room the next year as well. This year, I had no idea that I would get along so well with my direct roommate. It was simply the luck of the draw. I chose to connect with my best friend, but I would never have met him if he hadn’t lived in my hall last year. And the first time I met him, I certainly didn’t think to myself, "This person will understand me so well—understand my thoughts and feelings, understand all my references (from Doctor Who to J. Alfred Prufrock), understand how to react to every situation we’re in together."
For me, almost every friend I have here is a coincidence, and I think that makes their presence in my life even more special. I’ve learned that you can’t discount anyone’s importance in your life. Even if they don’t seem special at first, they might mean everything to you in a few months.