Both of my older brothers went to small liberal arts colleges and I wanted to be just like them, so I did, too. I ended up choosing Carleton College, in Northfield, Minnesota because it was close-to-but-not-quite the same as where they went to school. My freshman year, I lived in this dorm, third floor.
There was a small lake/pond outside the dorm that had the unfortunate quality of being ideal for a kind of algae growth, an algae that smelled so bad it permeated the entire experience of my freshman year. There were a lot of firsts in this dorm — my first kiss, my first drunk, my first real experience of trusting a friend, my first boyfriend, my first major adult depression, the recognition of personal power and the recognition of how little control I actually have over my life, the loss of my virginity — and all of those firsts have this background canvas of “smells like algae”.
I also have a memory I cherish, laying on the floor of my new boyfriend’s dorm room and giggling hysterically as we both mocked and participated in his roommate’s attempt to speak in “fax” high-pitched squeals. Nerdy humor has always worked for me and sometimes I surprised myself with how much I miss those days.