My Sanctuary

My Sanctuary

From Chicken Soup for the College Soul

My Sanctuary

It is three in the morning on a Tuesday, and I’m walking toward table eighteen, the one I call home. I pass the waiters, give a brief nod to the regulars and take my seat. I order the “usual,” water and peanut butter pie. Yes, I’m at an all-night diner.

I start to take out my books, knowing full well that I will be stuck on the same page of Socrates that I’ve been on for the better part of the semester. Of course, it’s early—for my group that is. I wait for the empty chairs around me to be filled.

Just as the Muzak songs start to repeat themselves, Shana and Jenny walk in. I am greeted with the usual big hugs and smiles. Suddenly, the diner stops being a twenty-four-hour restaurant with bad service and becomes my place—my home away from the prisonlike confines of my drab cell, a.k.a. my dorm room. For the next couple of hours, we will joke about people we know, talk about books, muse on the meaning of life, quote movies and create new private jokes. Table number eighteen is our inner sanctum.

During my senior year of college, I started going to the diner for a reprieve from a dorm room that felt like it was closing in on me. Not to mention the phones, the stereo and the computer. How could anyone seriously expect to have good study habits? Some friends of mine told me about the place; they went there to study, and they really liked it.

So I tried it. It felt remarkably freeing. I started going there every night (except weekends, of course), and, believe me it was not because the pies were that great either. Maybe it would force me to pry open my books, and my grades would improve. Right? Well . . .

But that’s not the point. I mean, anyone who has gone to college knows that it’s not only about forcing yourself to wake up at 7:45 A.M. (after you had gone to sleep two hours earlier) to listen to a professor spoon-feeding you information regarding the significance of the Battle of Hastings. It is also about finding a little haven where you can create what will be the most important thing in your life—yourself. At a school of thirty-five thousand people, I found a small place that was as familiar to me as my Social Security number.

That place was the diner. It was where advice on dating and anything else flowed freely. Where we would get nutty with exhaustion and no one minded. There was a time I spilled water all over myself, and we laughed until we cried. There were the victory laps over acing exams.

Through laughter, tears, learning, growing and the occasional free ice cream, we found a sanctuary. A place where we could be ourselves.

Eric Linder

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