The View Outside My Hewitt Window

Aliya Schneider

The first thing I did when I walked into my Hewitt 5 single was look out the window. Wow.

“Mom! Look at this!”

The day of the housing lottery, I got one of the last Hewitt rooms facing Claremont, eager for a view other than the inside of the quad, or the neighbor’s windows and the garbage bins across from my Plimpton shaft. The sticky air from pre-NSOP heat during my move-in as an OL last summer proved to be more exciting than I anticipated, with my very own New York view.

Not only could I see the street, but buildings, beautiful buildings, and even Riverside Park. When it isn’t dreadfully hot anymore, I thought, I would bike along the path I ran on as a first-year. Little did I realize my bike would become no more than a piece of decor in my room. Maybe when it is not so dreadfully cold I’ll use it.

With this window, I would get sunshine. My mom told me that when the leaves fell off the trees in the winter I would be able to see the river. It seemed too good to be true. But here I am, looking even past the river, at the buildings across the water. I wake up to pull my shade up and get a glimpse of day. When I come home for some late afternoon reading, the sun is bright, but so tempting to look at. Even when it sets too early it has a grand exit. When there’s snow, I hear the plows bang down the road at night. Tonight I see a body walking, another couple walking together, a group of freshmen leaving the park, occupying the quiet street out my window.

The building across the street from me has apartments, not dorm rooms. Out my little window and into theirs, I see big living room plants and family-sized couches and bookshelves and a terrace. An alleyway, or, more accurately, a parking area, lets out a rim of light under the gate. The building next door to this apartment bends around the corner, and the street curves around the bend. It is as if the architects of Morningside Heights wanted to make sure that I would have a view of Riverside Drive. The cars are parked across the way, and the naked trees let me see the lights on the buildings across the river. Like kids lined up on those suburban bumper stickers that have drawn on stick figures for everyone in the family, one is a bit taller than the other. Each building has a bright light on top, forming an urban constellation.

I wonder how many people have looked out of their window and into mine. Maybe none. I love Barnard, but looking out and being able to see not only Claremont, Riverside Park, or the river, but the buildings beyond, I remember that there are endless possibilities of where I will end up when I no longer have this Hewitt window. Maybe I’ll be shafted again, and maybe I won’t even have a window. But, the beauty of it all is that right now I have it, and safe inside the Barnard gates, I have a view of a sliver of the outside world. Hopefully Barnard will have prepared me. Hopefully I have prepared myself.

It’s time for bed and this darn curtain doesn’t know the difference between pulling down or pulling up. I wrap my face in my throw blanket to block the light coming in, and in the morning I wake up, looking out my Hewitt window.

By Susan Steinfield

By Susan Steinfield