I hear the Campanile ring six times and look over from my desk to my roommate, Sarah, who is deeply involved in a physics problem set. "Dinner?" I ask eagerly, already putting on my Birkenstocks and heading for the door. Sarah is reluctant to stop in the middle of a physics problem, but alas, it's 6 pm.
Walking into the dining hall I can see that it's taco night… for most people. To my right, Louie and Izzy are already eight bites into their special, made-to-order chicken breast that they eat every night.
Sarah and I join the line behind Celine, who turns to me and immediately asks, "How are you feeling about the election so far?" I should've known that was coming. "Celine, you know I am terrible with politics. But how are your classes this semester?"
While I'm collecting utensils, I feel a light tap on my left shoulder, and I already know that it's Jeremy trying to trick me. "JEREMY," I say, whirling around to greet his mischievous face.
As I walk by the table where the freshmen congregate, I overhear snippets of the many conversations going on — someone is talking about something funny that happened on the Tahoe ski trip last weekend. The table can sit about ten comfortably, but I swear there are seventeen people seated around that table every night.
There's still a spot left at my favorite table and I seat myself in between David and Neil. David has been looking tired in the evenings ever since Jacob recruited him to join the lightweight men's crew team, but I know David is tough. Katie and Emily are talking about whether it's possible to stop at both Trader Joe's and Philz Coffee tomorrow before their 9 am classes. Connor and Nick are very involved in a conversation, until Sophia interjects to discuss how much reading she has to finish by tomorrow morning.
Kentaro, his helmet still strapped on, has just walked in with his bike. He begins to fill four large, empty Tupperwares with enough food to last at least three days. He greets Dr. Lieu and Mrs. Lieu, who are headed towards their unassigned, assigned seats in the back of the dining hall.
Hearing a cacophony of shouts, I peer over my shoulder and see Ralph, Will, Matt, Jacob and Harrison seated in a semicircle watching football on the TV. Ralph seems preoccupied, and I can hear that he and Will are debating whether or not it's possible to be an NFL star on a vegan diet.
Theo abruptly stands up and walks over to the iPad that is connected to the Sonos speakers. Moments later, "Like a Rolling Stone" is blasting throughout the dining hall. Scott and Zack are seated in the back of the dining hall, probably working on a CS project, but upon realizing that focusing on code would no longer be possible, they get up to join dinner.
Jack and Sophie are showing off their newest version of "Hibble," a dehydrated energy food that is a human form of kibble, designed for the toughest adventurers who want all their vitamins and minerals in compact nuggets.
Nilo walks in and asks every person she greets, "Are you coming to Constitutional Committee tonight?" Soon after Nilo has walked by, Jacob saunters in, his law school messenger bag slung over his shoulder. Jacob, back again this weekend. Surprised? Hardly.
Turning back to my table, I look at my friends seated around me, smiling and laughing. The daily worries about midterms, projects, problem sets, papers, internships, and research seem to fade away with the last notes of "Like a Rolling Stone." These people I share stories, meals, and home with, are my family. And that night, everything felt good and right.
- Caroline B.