Before coming to Ukraine, my encounters with boarding schools were limited to books like Harry Potter and A Little Princess. I am now a resident at a boarding school along with about 80 students as well as various teachers, their number depending on the day. The school empties every other weekend, leaving me to sing as loud as I want to in the hallways or to enjoy the silence. (Though there was that weekend some college students from Beregszasz stayed in the dormitory for the weekend. They partied until 3am, and their leader woke them up at 6am … on a Saturday morning … with a whistle … blown repeatedly for an hour … )
I’m one of the few teachers who lives on the campus and certainly the only one who would consider it my home base. I live in the dormitory on the first floor in the only bedroom on that floor. The first floor also contains the large lecture hall, some storage rooms, a few doors I’ve never seen opened, two bathrooms, the library, and J. Edit’s sewing room. The well-lit, pleasantly untidy room smells like every theatre costume shop I’ve ever been in, and Edit often has the Ukrainian news playing softly on the radio.
My own room is called the green room, a name which has nothing to do with performance green rooms. It’s named for a much simpler reason – every part of its construction besides the ceiling and the moulding is green. Green is without a doubt my favorite color, but the ubiquitous nature of the color was quite distressing to me when I first moved it. The sea-green-ish walls were originally lit by a single flourescent lightbulb, which of course exacerbated the color to a depressingly sea-green degree. The room could have been the set for a movie about a creepy hospital. I have since purchased an incandescent lightbulb. Don’t worry. I do penance for my increased energy consumption every night.
The girls live on the second floor of the dormitory. Gabica, V. Edit, and J. Edit – the three dorm “mothers” – live there as well, and they come and go in a rotation I have mostly figured out. I only go to this floor occasionally; my bathroom doesn’t have a mirror, you see, or don’t see, as the case may be. So I sometimes run up the stairs to make sure I’m presentable.
The third floor houses the boys. Once I went up there to borrow a vacuum cleaner. That’s about it. Laci and Csaba are in charge of the boys. I haven’t the faintest idea how their rotation works.
There’s also a basement to the dormitory, with a game room, more storage, and a florescently-lit blue room that made me feel better about my green one. All in all, the dormitory is the tallest building around; when I’m out walking, its shiny roof sticks out above the rows of trees.
So that’s my home – the place where I lay my head. No moving stair-cases or secret attic rooms, but I’m content.