Katie Muriel, Contributor
Lately I find myself waxing poetic on a level that borders outright mushiness. Both my friends and I would diagnose this as my extreme Cancerian nature; I’m a squalling July baby who just never stopped squalling. Still, when I proposed writing this piece, it was met with enthusiasm from many including my dear friend Sarah Jane Tewksbury, who would likely let me write a piece for the paper on the validity of coffee for dinner if it was what my heart desired. But I digress. And this is not about coffee.
This is about 94 Bedford Street, an address at which stands a small, unassuming white house in a row of other small, unassuming white houses that typically go unnoticed by the average student unless they have business to attend to at one of these humble dwellings. But 94 Bedford is different. It’s special.
94 Bedford Street houses the Women and Gender Studies department at USM. I will readily admit to bias in this writing as WGS is not only one of my majors, but I also work study in the house. However, even if my work study funds had led me elsewhere, and even if my WGS major had remained a minor, I could write a piece just like this about how the WGS house is like finding a lush island after treading water in the Atlantic for days.
In this house, I have shared countless hugs, laughed so hard I cried, cried so hard I laughed, eaten dozens of meals, held hundreds of conversations. In this house I have sat down to study, comforted others and been comforted, screwed up and solved problems, expressed and received validation, felt and spread love. How strange to find home in a house I don’t live in. But WGS is undeniably my home.
On any given day, you can walk in and find a hot cup of coffee or tea, a piece of candy or a stray snack, a quiet place to center yourself or do work, and sometimes, you can even find a dog or two to pet. Most importantly, however, you can find acceptance. Whoever you are, WGS is a place where you can find people who care about you, even if they’ve never met you before. If you are marginalized out in the world, we are a safe haven for you. We have open arms, open hearts, and are committed to doing whatever we can to help you. I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that compassion and care are part of the reason 94 sees some of the most foot traffic on Bedford Street. It’s for this reason that I’m so proud to represent USM’s Women and Gender Studies department and proud to study in this field.
Dear 94 Bedford Street, this is my love letter to you. I love you even when you get spooky and close the door to the stairs all by yourself. I love your old and sometimes fragile body. I love your occasional broken door handles and your shelves full of books and walls full of art. I love your creaky floors and faucets that shake the whole house if not properly turned. Most of all, I love how you foster friendship and love and partnership and ideas and hardly ask anything in return.
94 Bedford, I love you. May your door always be open.