Dorm Hopping: An Unexpected Journey

Let’s get one thing straight right now: traditional dorms at WashU are the bomb.com. They are the bee’s knees, the cat’s pajamas, the building embodiment of Batman. I. LOVED. LIVING. TRADITIONAL. I loved it so much that, during my freshman year, I never really visited any other dorms, even the modern ones. In fact, it took a full semester and a half before I had set foot in any modern room not labeled “Multipurpose.” I remember that first time as if it were yesterday (mainly because, at any given moment, I’m not sure what day it is).

T’was the night before Spring Break, and the South 40 was essentially deserted. Everybody had zoomed off on the Metro toward Lambert Airport, waiting for planes to take them home or to exotic destinations. I, on the other hand, was waiting for my Easy Mac to finish heating in the microwave while my friends, Anne and Andrea, sliced cookie dough onto a sheet tray. The weather was misty and dismal and boredom abounded. When the clock stuck nine, the cookies were reduced to crumbs, and our card game had become a blur of hearts and spades. We were BORED. I was about to call it a night and retire to my bed to watch cupcake videos on YouTube, when a single question was uttered that changed the course of that evening’s events: Anybody wanna go dorm hopping?

We had contemplated dorm hopping before, but our plans had never come to fruition. Every other time the question was posed, there was always something else to be done, some assignment to complete, or some meeting to attend. This time, there was no impending task to tackle. Instead, the only thing that lay ahead was a much needed vacation. We peeled ourselves off of the common room couches, pulled on our most comfy sweats, and set out for Park-Mudd. What we found there left us both awestruck. Kitchens on every floor, spacious laundry rooms, common rooms and lounges encased in luxurious dark wood and furnished with soft (faux) leather couches. We sat for several minutes, savoring the plush cushions beneath us, but all the while I couldn’t help feeling that something was off.

We made our way along, stopping in Wheeler, Elliot B, Liggett, and Koenig, pausing every so often to test the furniture, play a round of pool, and casually collecting abandoned treats we found around (a lot of Reddi-Wip and a surprising amount of Girl Scout Cookies). The modern facilities were amazing, but I couldn’t shake a strange feeling coming on. Yes, these dorms were nice, but they weren’t really what I was used to. It wasn’t until we stopped in the lobby of South 40 House that I knew what exactly the main difference between these modern dorms and fair Beaumont was. Sitting in what reminded me of a hotel lobby, I had a realization: it was silent, and not just because everybody had gone for Spring Break. The building itself made no noise. Arriving in Umrath House, our last stop before cozy Beaumont, I found that the case was the same. The environment was beautiful, but just not what I was used to or, honestly, what I personally preferred.

We arrived back in Beau and plopped down on the lobby chairs, chilling in the glow of the yellow flood lights outside. I remember sitting there, taking in the faint light of the evening, listening to the groans of the pipes, the whir of air through the vents, smelling the scents of clouds of popcorn steam and cheesy Easy Mac, wafting down from the floors above or the kitchen around the corner. I felt comforted, safe, and warm. I felt at home. I thought back to the previous September, when I had returned to Beaumont Hall after a particularly hot and sticky student retreat and had decided that Beau was my home. Sitting there in the dim light of the lobby with my friends, I closed my eyes and smiled, my love for my traditional home reaffirmed.