When I first arrived at the University of Michigan, the extent of my knowledge of Ann Arbor was my dad’s route to the football games and his friend’s tailgating spot. Back in Grand Rapids, I had plenty of places that provided my home away from home: The Starbucks across the Beltline, the backroad path to school, the Meijer book section. But when I moved to school, I lost those places. All at once I was thrown into this new home without a place to anchor myself. But the one place I felt truly comfortable was the nook under my bed.
The nook under my bed was where I sat and listened to my “calm songs” playlist when the first week of school was overwhelming. The nook under my bed was where I had a movie night with my new friends on a Saturday night instead of going to a frat. The nook under my bed was where I took naps in between Intro to Ballet and PoliSci because getting all the way up to my top bunk was way too much commitment. The nook under my bed was where I had deep talks with the first best friend I’ve ever really had. The nook under my bed is my safe space, my calm space, my place.
My nook has everything I need: My books and notebooks, outlets, chargers, food, water and mountains of pillows. Why go anywhere else when all I need is right here? I don’t have to spend money. I don’t have to dress up. I don’t have to put makeup on or do my hair. The nook under my bed takes me for what I am. If I want to curl up in my PJs with my hair in a towel, my roommate might judge me, but my nook certainly won’t.
With having a roommate for the first time, it’s comforting having a space that’s just mine. The rest of the room is a common area, it’s open to the public, but under my bed is like a separate room. When I hang my coats up, I can’t even see the door from my desk. When I’m sitting on the ground, I’m completely hidden from view. Friends stopping by can see the whole room — everything is on display. They can walk around, grab a chair and settle in. But they can’t see my nook unless they come into the room, they don’t go under my bed unless they ask.
In college we are expected to be social all the time. Not only to be social, but to go out, to party or do something Instagram-worthy. We are expected to be active every Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night, even Sunday night; to talk to a million people and forget their names the next day. To look like we’re having the time of our lives when sometimes all we want to do is relax in our dorm in the comfort of our nook. But sometimes it’s okay to stay in, by yourself or maybe with a couple friends, all sitting under your bed talking or watching movies. Sometimes it’s okay to not be constantly social. Sometimes we just need some alone time.
I haven’t been in Ann Arbor long enough to establish a special place. I don’t have a coffee shop that I regular (though that’s my goal for the second semester), I don’t have a bookstore I visit every Sunday (though I would like to), I don’t even have a special spot in the library I like to study. What I do have is the nook under my bed. I now plan to go out by myself or with friends on the weekend, exploring those coffee shops and bookstores and the sights of Ann Arbor. But I also know it’s okay to spend a night in the nook under my bed, laughing with friends, relaxing by myself and making memories.