The Apartment

Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Thank goodness apartments don’t have emotions. If my one bedroom apartment did, I can guarantee that its paint would be chipping off as rapidly as the layers of my sanity. Every morning, I’d wake up to the sound of my alarm clock simultaneously ringing with the gruesome screams of my four year old cousin. I’d race to the bathroom, only to find out that I had to wait in line behind my other cousin. Attempting to save time, I’d make my way to the kitchen and fix myself breakfast while I waited for my turn. I’d get out my favorite box of cereal just to find out that my other cousin (yes, a third cousin) had finished all the milk. By then, I’d be running late for school, so I’d quickly brush my teeth in the kitchen sink and run out the door hoping to catch the train on time.

In the beginning of freshman year, my parents announced that some of my relatives were going to move into our one bedroom apartment. Initially, I felt a jolt of excitement because I hadn’t seen my relatives in six years. Afterwards, it hit me that their family consisted of five people and that my family consisted of three people. Despite my not-so-great math skills, I could already begin to tell that these numbers weren’t going to work out. The apartment walls soon trembled with the boisterous sounds of my cousins arguing, my uncle talking on the phone, and my aunt watching drama serials on television. With all these distractions, I found it almost impossible to focus on my school work. Although I’d lived in this apartment for six years, it no longer felt like home.

Unexpectedly, my new home became Bronx Science. As soon as after-school clubs began, I felt myself slowly breaking out of my tightly wrapped cocoon and freely stretching out my wings. NASHA, a cultural dance club, made me fall in love with how vibrant and free dancing made me feel. With the constant noise that prevented me from being heard in my apartment, dancing became my new way of communicating. Each movement had its own message and gave off its own emotion. Every finger and toe was carefully choreographed to speak its own words, while the total movement itself gently swayed to form a graceful sentence. I wanted to hold onto the euphoric sensations that I felt while I was dancing in school — but I knew that as soon as I stepped into my overcrowded apartment, my wings would vanish and I would go back into my cocoon.

As the annual NASHA show inched closer, my dance group and I started practicing through Skype by individually performing on webcam. My little cousins tried to watch me practice during these sessions, but I would immediately stop dancing out of embarrassment and close my computer. One day, however, I decided to take initiative and asked my cousins if they would like to join me during one of my practices. Their faces lit up with eagerness as they tried following my dance steps while discovering their own unique expressions, their own vivid movements.

After all that chaos, I brought into my cousins’ lives some of the same enthusiasm that I had for dancing. The way they immersed themselves in carefully perfecting each gesture showed me how dance also allowed them to express themselves. Initially, I had felt that my apartment had constricted me when, in actuality, it was me. As soon as I decided to open myself up, the walls that once seemed to cave in now appeared to smile at me from every corner. The boisterous noises that once filled the apartment were now replaced with sounds of laughter and love. The paint on my apartment walls no longer seemed to be chipping off. Instead, those walls were repainted with the warm colors of enthusiasm as my cousins and I connected, dancing as one.

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