The summer between my junior and senior year of college, I lived in Alumni Hall – one of the NYU dorms – with my college roommate, Andrew. It was a formative summer for me for a host of reasons, one of which was that it was my first time living in New York. Looking back on it, there was a funny sort of “play acting” going on: we were living in a fake apartment (dorm rooms) working at fake jobs (internships) for two months. But, at the time, it felt like we were on the cusp of adulthood in a thrilling and exhilarating way. Drinks dates and cab rides and grimy side streets, all cast in relief to the comparatively bucolic
collegiate setting we were used to... it felt the entire summer like we were living in the first five minutes of a movie.
Of course, in the years since, when I walk past Alumni Hall, I roll my eyes. I note the security guard sitting in the lobby and the chaos of St. Mark’s Place, and the whole scene seems wholly juvenile. Once when Andrew was in town, we walked past it and I had to remind him that that’s where we had lived that summer. We both looked wistfully in its direction the way you might when coming across a drawing you did when you were eight.
Last week, my little brother, who turned 21 in October, moved into Alumni Hall for the summer. I went to visit him last Tuesday. He had warned me that he’d have to come down to let me in, but the security guard just smiled and let me through when I said I was there to visit my brother. I met my brother’s roommate, and I asked them both all sorts of questions -- “What are your hours at work?” “What do you do for lunch?” – that made me feel like an aunt. The two of them talked about happy hours and majors and air conditioning; I did a lot of nodding. I’m six years older than my brother, but sitting at that kitchen table -- next to an unopened box containing a fan and an unplugged alarm clock -- the age gap between us felt like either minutes or decades, it was impossible to discern which.