After four years of boarding school, I somehow made the dumbass decision to attend a college with mandatory four-year on-campus housing. I’ve lived at school for nearly eight years now, and as a result, I have packed up and moved out every ten months for the better part of a decade. My dorm is my home, and I bring what I can to make it feel that way.

So when the president of my university sent out an email in the summer recommending that students “pack light,” I felt like he was asking me to return to my own home as a guest. I understand why he said this, of course, and I’m grateful to be on campus. But after seven years of dorm rooms, I want my first apartment to feel like my own.

And so I thought: if I can’t bring my furnishings, then I may as well make them. When Denison asked students to leave partway through the spring 2020 semester, they gave us boxes and sent us on our way. Upon our fall return, stacks and stacks of empty boxes sit in the entrance to my residence hall, as if to remind me that my presence here is tenuous at best. Cardboard is a cheap, sturdy, and incredibly temporary material, just like the outdoor tents our classes are now performed in.