When I’m not writing this column at 2 a.m. the morning we go to print, working on other aspects of the newspaper or in class, you can find me in one of two places: the nearest Chick-fil-A (and not a campus restaurant either, because the experience just isn’t the same) or Armstrong Hall.
Three and a half years ago when I filled out my housing application along with my application for enrollment, I selected Keller Hall as my No. 1 preference. I had stayed in Keller for Honors Symposium, and I thought it’d be studious of me to stay there my freshman year — surely there wasn’t as much ruckus happening in Keller as there would be Armstrong.
August 1 rolled around, and I was assigned Armstrong Hall.
Now, three and a half years later, that’s one of the few places on campus where you might be able to find me on a regular basis. After living there as a resident for one year, I decided to return for the next three as a resident assistant.
While my duties include things like Yelling At Freshmen™ and being Chief Toilet Paper Dispenser at the front desk, I also get the chance to show prospective students around the dorm when they visit campus. I’m always excited to show them one of my favorite spots on campus, but by now, I pretty much know what to expect.
“Wow. Interesting,” says helicopter mom.
“Oh my. These hallways look like a hospital,” says smother.
My response is usually something along the lines of, “Haha! Well, he’ll learn to call it home.” But what I’d like to say is, “Look, Karen. I’m the only one allowed to make fun of my dorm.”
It’s weird — I’ve become ridiculously territorial of pile of bricks and the people that reside within. There’s certainly nothing aesthetically appealing about the dorm that makes me defend my turf. And frankly, sometimes the people inside (you know who you are, first floor short hall) make me want to leave and never come back. But you’re certainly not allowed to make fun of it.
It’s my territory, not yours.
Something similar has happened with my car, too. She (Bessy) is old — not as old as Armstrong Hall, but she’s old. A couple days ago, I was taking a friend for a spin, and he made fun of my radio system.
Sure the antenna is broken. Sure the disc changer won’t eject discs anymore, leaving me with parts one and two of Elton John’s 40 Greatest Hits (which I am not complaining about, let’s be clear). Sure I had to buy a $12 radio transmitter so I could listen to Spotify from my phone. Sure she still has a cassette player.
She’s vintage, thank you very much. And she’s a Toyota — so, take that.
It’s my territory, not yours.
I suppose a similar feeling occurs with Texans — with their oddly placed sense of pride in “God’s country” and their belief that everything is better in Texas.
But it’s their territory, not mine.
If we look back at the earliest disputes documented in history, we’ll see that many of these happened over territory; however, I’m not sure they’re worried so much with a mom’s perception of living quarters as they are losing all they own to an invading army. The right to property is seen widely as a basic human right, and I figure following right along with that is someone’s pride in their property.
As civilization has developed, we’ve seen claims to territory expand to include a person’s endearment to a fast food chain or a national sports franchise. The scope of territory has changed, but the pride attached to it certainly hasn’t been abandoned.
So, the next time you get up in arms because your Philadelphia Eagles lost the biggest game of the season, I’ll try to be a little more understanding. After all, it’s your territory, not mine.
And next time Karen from Atlanta visits Armstrong Hall, I hope she’ll realize the place is more than just brick and tile — it’s someone’s beloved territory.
I wave my yellow flag high in resistance to you, Karen. Don’t tread on me!