get thee to a nunnery

We bought our new house in Belmont, MA, yesterday. For the two weeks before that, my family had remained in Washington while I lived in a Tufts University dorm room. Colleagues seem surprised and amused that I, gray and 41, should choose to live in a dorm. I thought it made practical sense: no commute, no shopping, no cooking. Of course, I could have had floor-mates who were a little more–shall we say?–lively late at night than I am used to in my staid middle age. At first, however, there was no one else on my floor–just rows of open doors and swept-out rooms that reminded me a little of “The Shining.” Then the doors were all closed and there were subtle signs of human habitation. The bathroom light, for instance, would be on in the middle of the night, when I had definitely switched it off before going to sleep. But no sounds. Who else could be living on the third floor of South Hall?

I found out one evening when I shared the elevator with a dozen Spanish-speaking nuns. A half-a-dozen more couldn’t fit on and had to wait for the next one. They wore gray habits and none was taller than my shoulder. They were so quiet and tidy that I can truly say: when it comes to floormates, better nun than none.