Bathrooms are for Bonding


Communal bathrooms provide a space for freshman to meet new people. (Courtesy of Pia Fischetti/The Fordham Ram)

The year was 2019. I showed up to classes 20 minutes early. I slept in a twin bed approximately three feet away from a girl I had met only days prior. I sent frequent and feverish texts to my high school friends in a carefully named group chat. I was a freshman, and I hated college. Even worse to admit, I hated Fordham.

For all the scared, lonely college freshmen, or sophomores, or juniors, for that matter, who are reading this article, I am here to tell you that you are not alone. I know how annoying that can be to hear. I remember my mom trying to assuage my fears during tear-filled phone calls, quoting other moms from the Fordham Facebook group who posted about their own childrens’ troubles. I did not want to hear it, because my dramatic 18-year-old self believed there was no one out there who understood what I was going through. (Before you ask, yes, I have a Pisces moon.)

Everyone else at Fordham had made lifelong friends. Everyone else had plans on the weekend. They had traditions, like meeting up with friends in the cafeteria for dinner, or going out to their favorite bar or sleeping over in each other’s dorm rooms. I had run out of time.

I despised Fordham. I resented its tall, stoic buildings; bleak gray stones and skies. Learning about school clubs only fueled my rage, filling me with envy over fun campus events that I had no one to go to with. I felt guilty for choosing Fordham for my future; I was wasting tuition money and the prime years of my life in my dorm room, watching “The Bachelor” on my laptop and eating fudge-covered Nutter Butters by the box.

I felt I had done enough to earn some newfound friends. My lack of friends and other freshmen’s abundance was unjust! Though when I thought about it, I never went to any club meetings unless my roommate would come with me. And I never went out on the weekends. And I never really did anything unless my roommate was with me. I gained a wonderful friend in my roommate, but I was not truly putting myself out there. I was keeping myself in Martyrs’ room 402. However, I had a saving grace, the one thing that made freshman year worth it and turned around my social life: the Martyrs’ Court communal bathrooms.

Yes, the bathroom was less than ideal in some ways. There was a touch of mold in the sinks and some of the girls chose to forego shower shoes. There was no air conditioning, which meant we were forced to keep the windows wide open without any screens. Our screenless life led to me getting attacked by a dragonfly in a vulnerable post-shower state, but that is a story for another time.

Every night, I would pad into the Martyrs’ court bathroom with my plastic shower caddy to brush my teeth and wash my face before bed. Soon enough, my embarrassingly early bedtime schedule seemed to link up with a neighbor. She would come into the bathroom a few minutes after me and we would stand next to each other in silence, our electric toothbrushes whirring. This continued for a few nights, and each night, whoever was the first to leave the bathroom would say, “Goodnight.” That was all it took for us to recognize each other when we were placed in the same class and start texting and hanging out. Our meet-cute friendship boils down to saying goodnight to each other in the bathroom. I went from having one friend to two. That is how it begins to get better.

Putting yourself out into the world in the smallest of ways can lead to huge changes in your life. In order to feel less lonely, I had to learn to feel comfortable doing things alone. I know this logic sounds contradictory, but embracing your independence can open you up to more opportunities to meet new people. I decided to go to my first school club meeting by myself — The Fordham Ram. Does this count as breaking the fourth wall?
I got to pitch my own article ideas and brainstorm with other student writers. I was writing again and seeing my name published in a real newspaper. It was thrilling and rewarding and it made me excited about school. I respected my column editors, one of whom I would become co-editors and best friends with a year later. I got to work alongside one of my favorite people every week producing a paper we were both so proud of.

The end of freshman year creeped up. My roommate and I were basically attached at the hip, but she was transferring schools. Instead of waiting for a random roommate selection, I reached out to girls in my dorm building. One girl mentioned a friend who was also struggling to find a roommate. Without ever meeting this friend, I agreed to room with her.

Somehow, I got lucky enough to share a room with a new best friend for the second year in a row. We managed to make our own fun during a time of Zoom classes and GrubHub. She asked to show one of her friends our room, and I said yes. The next day, I saw that same girl in one of my classes. We sat next to each other.

In these small, simple ways, the list of friends and the collection of good memories I had at Fordham grew. Now, I can not wait for my last year at Fordham. The weekends do not seem long enough. Now, I think of study sessions in the cafeteria and scenic late-night walks in the snow with friends to Urban. I take the time to really look around campus after classes, because I know one day soon I will miss the beauty I am surrounded with, the changing leaves and gothic buildings.

When I walk past Martyrs’ Court, I still remember those days of feeling alone. I remember those phone calls to my mom. But mostly, I think about how Martyrs’ Court gave me some of the best people in my life.

You do not have to force yourself to go to every party or join every club. The smallest acts of bravery can have the most meaningful rewards. Sometimes, all it takes is saying goodnight in the bathroom.