The very notion that the passion for making the walls of your room technicolor and bright diminishes as one grows older seemed absurd to me. After sneaking into all kinds of rooms to encounter Winnie the Pooh, Van Gogh’s paintings or sometimes Brad Pitt, I could not picture a college student who would resist the temptation of putting at least one (or, most likely, all) of these on his or her wall.
Then, I saw the rooms of seniors. And my notion of a brightly decorated college room began to shake. Williams seniors seem more likely to put a small painting by one of their arts major friends rather than a poster with smiley faces, or they might prefer a peaceful landscape to a Dali painting. In fact, landscape photos proved to be most abundant, and sometimes students brought them from countries they visited during their junior years. Regardless of whether the landscapes featured a foaming waterfall in Canada, a bright beach in Spain or a dark Russian forest, a sense of serenity seemed to emanate from all of them.
Unlike what I expected, personal photos in senior rooms proved to be almost as common as they were in freshman rooms. This time, though, seniors showed the way they grew (or let’s just say “changed”) during their three years at Williams. The confused face of a freshman, followed by a smug sophomore relaxing in a sofa, and a hard-working junior holding a cup of coffee in one hand and the computer mouse in the other, followed one another in a predictable yet amusing progression.
Needless to say, some seniors did go as far as to keep the posters they first put in their freshman dorm rooms, but the maps of home states and the photos of favorite baseball teams did not prevail this time around. Rather, there was the weird Chinese calligraphy someone did for them during sophomore year, the always-popular “Starry Night” by Van Gogh and, well, Brad Pitt.
But the seniors are getting calmer in their old age. This is more evident in the off-campus houses where people tend to put cooking recipes on their wall more than posters, and where the comfort of sofas, armchairs and curtains surpasses everything else. In terms of light, senior rooms appear less lit than sophomore and junior ones. Seniors go for the dim and chic atmosphere that disposes them more to meditation than to the writing of papers that are due in an hour. Bookshelves and tables are still present but they seem to be placed in a way that takes up the least amount of space (after three years of complaining about your room being small, you do succeed in making it look big, I guess).
The corkboards and message boards that juniors showed a penchant for are still there, always covered with messages. This time, though, things look more organized and simpler (perhaps it’s the absence of the bright “post-it” notes that generates this feeling).
The space in senior rooms seems to fit all their wishes and moves; it is a space where one can enjoy serenity, reminiscence or maybe sit down planning himself or herself an equally, if not more, enjoyable future.
But don’t worry; they are not turning into serious adults quite yet. There are still glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceilings. . .