Sometimes I wonder how Harvard honestly expects two people to comfortably live within their ‘doubles.’ Even if you manage to not physically hit one another while dressing in the morning, the tight living conditions will assuredly make one consider living in the common room. What a lovely spacious room is the common room! I can see myself in the mirror as I pick out an outfit, I do not have to fear claustrophobia, and I can stretch my arms out without hitting a wall. While I was aware that I would have to deal with my roommates entering and leaving my room, it seemed like a manageable negative consequence. Yes, there have been nights where I have been awakened by the door opening or closing. Yet the worst aspect of living in the common room is only discoverable when you have a significant other in the room with you.
It was about 2 PM on a Wednesday. My boyfriend and I had little work, a few hours before class, and a desire to be out of the cold. Of course, my first thought was to invite him into my spacious room. After taking off our snow covered boots and jackets, we quickly got under my covers and started an episode of Game of Thrones. His warm fingers found their way to my thigh; just a touch. However, that one touch sent my mind racing. I could not help but think about what else I wanted his hands to do. There was no way I could continue to focus on the show any longer, so I turned to face him. I start kissing down his neck, simply to make sure that he had the same mindset as mine. It did not take long for Game of Thrones to be turned off.
In the midst of removing clothes, he asked me, “Are you sure your roommates aren’t coming?” In retrospect, the correct answer is most definitely, “No.” I didn’t know their class schedule in the slightest. However, in this heated moment, I lied. “Yeah, we’re fine.”
As moments passed, I quickly forgot that I lived in a shared place. The common room transformed into my private chamber. I was pleasantly distracted from the realities of the common room. All it took was a sound of a turning key to whisk me back to reality. Although my boyfriend and I both had started to say, “Just a minute!”, it was too late. My roommate had opened the door and saw just about everything there was to see. We all made eye contact. She paused for a moment, considering her next move, and then quickly averted her eyes and rushed into her room, loudly closing the door behind her.
My boyfriend and I froze. He whispered, “What should I do?” I lightly pushed him off of me and signaled for him to start dressing. We were both mortified. At this point, nothing he could say or do could really ameliorate the situation. We tried to have a loud, PG conversation, as if to prove to my roommate that we weren’t doing anything sexual anymore. However, the awkward elephant did not leave the room, so I told my boyfriend maybe he should leave (hopefully with the elephant) and that I would see him later. He asked if he should say anything to my roommate and I promised him that that would only escalate the awkwardness.
Once he left, I gently knocked on my roommate’s door. I don’t know how many times I said, “I’m sorry” throughout our short dialogue, but there was little else that could be said in the situation. My actions had made her feel uncomfortable and all I could do now was promise that it wouldn’t happen again. Not so luckily for me, my boyfriend also lives in a common room, so there is always the possibility that this awkward occasion could come up again.
After this traumatizing experience, my only advice is for roommates to have a conversation about sex in your rooms/common room before an event like this happens. Develop a system to tell an unsuspecting roommate that the common room may be in use. Maybe put a sock on your doorknob when there’s ‘company.’ However, even with a conversation, there is no way that getting walked in on isn’t awkward. Hopefully, you and your roommates have a good enough relationship that you can all laugh at the situation later. As time passed, I tried to convince myself that this situation was simply a fee I had to pay for choosing to live in the lovely spacious common room. And next year, you better believe that I will be begging for a single.
Anonymous wished her room needed swipe access.